Retinol cream is a widely available, popular facial treatment that claims to maintain the youthful appearance of the skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles. As a natural form of Vitamin A, Retinol is essentially similar to other Vitamin A derivatives such as retinyl palmitate. It has only recently started to be used in skin care products due to the fact that it is unstable in its natural state. However, recent advances in skin-care technology have yielded apparently stable compounds that promise to provide all of the benefits of tretinoin (Retin-A) without the side effect of sensitivity to sunlight. In fact, Retinol is metabolized by the skin cells into the same active ingredient. Usage of Retinol cream has been shown to increase skin exfoliation by stimulating skin cell production. Like other skin care creams that target wrinkles, Retinol based creams also claim to hydrate skin cells and stimulate collagen production. The hydrating process plumps up the skin cells, which further masks the effect of wrinkles. It is claimed that only Retinol (and other Vitamin A-based creams) are able to penetrate the skin cell membrane and renew the cell’s DNA. However, it is difficult to conclude if these studies are biased or not.
Retinol-based creams are among those best proven to reduce the signs of aging. It works in conjunction with other proven topical treatments such as Coenzyme Q-10, Vitamins C & E, and Alpha Hydroxy Acid. The amount of Retinol contained in products advertising it can range from as little as 10,000 IU per ounce to 600,000 IU per ounce. There is little evidence to suggest that creams containing less than 100,000 IU of Retinol per ounce are effective, despite the consistently positive results from higher concentrations. Retinol creams are sold in several forms, the most prevalent of which is as a night cream intended to combat wrinkles. There are also formulations intended for daily use which target acne, scarring, age spots, and other pigmentation flaws. Retinol-based creams should be used for a minimum of 30 consecutive days for best results.
- Fewer side effects compared to other Vitamin-A based treatments.
- Available over the counter, unlike other Vitamin-A based treatments.
- Vitamin-A is a natural, necessary nutrient.
- Is more of an ingredient additive than a stand-alone treatment.
- Side effects can include skin irritation, especially at higher doses.
- Retinol-based products may lose potency over time, making it inadvisable to buy in bulk.
- Retinol is a pretty old fashioned approach to fighting wrinkles, and there have been many significant scientific advances in the field since the heigh of this ingredient's popularity.
The Bottom Line
Retinol-based creams have an established track record of rejuvenating tired, worn down skin. While demonstrably effective at reducing the visible appearance of wrinkles and lines, the effect of Retinol creams on reducing under-eye bagging and pouching has not been proven. When used in conjunction with other contemporary skin treatments, Retinol based creams can be effective and safe. Given the current plethora of Retinal cream choices on the market and the lack of FDA regulation, it may be wise to stick with familiar brands at moderate doses, rather than the inexpensive, low dosage creams and expensive, ultra-high dosage compounds that make up the two extremes of the Retinol product range.