If your skin care regimen does not include retinoids as yet, then you are surely missing out on an important element. Retinoids are clinically known to take care of acne, wrinkles and a host of other skin issues. They boost collagen production by speeding up the cell turnover and reducing inflammation.

Retinoids vs retinol

Retinoids are a family of compounds derived from Vitamin A that includes beta carotene and other carotenoids, retinol. Retinoids are proven to improve skin texture and tone by increasing cell turnover and lightening dark spots.
Retinoids have been used both topically as well as systemically for the treatment of acne. Retinoid tazarotene is also used to treat psoriasis as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
On the other hand, retinol, also known as Vitamin A, is a first-generation retinoid.
As it is a precursor to retinoic acid, it is classified as a cosmetic rather than a drug, and it has made its way into many OTC formulations.
Users need to understand that retinols must be manufactured and packaged right to avoid oxidation and loss of potency. The amount of retinol in a product must be high enough to be effective.

According to Dr Urvi Panchal, consultant, Clinic Dermatech, manufacturers do not mention the concentration of retinol on product packs, making it tough for buyers to make an informed purchase.
“Another flipside is the inclusion of esters which are topically ineffective. Therefore, it is highly recommended that consumers only use the dermatologically-prescribed products. In OTC retinol products, retinol is usually combined with other ingredients to hydrate and brighten the skin. Although these products are gentler than prescription retinoids, they contain less amount of active ingredients and take longer to show desired results,” she says.

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Side-effects of using retinols

One has to ease into using retinoid-based products. Dr Karishma Kagodu, plastic surgeon, says, “Retinols are definitely the holy grail for anti-ageing. But for those just starting to use retinol, here are a few tips.”

  • Do not use retinols if you are pregnant/ planning a pregnancy.
  • Always use retinols only at night along with a moisturiser.
  • Retinols may make the skin sun sensitive, so use a sunscreen in the day.
  • Retinols can be used thrice a week or on alternate nights. They don’t have to be used daily.
  • Make sure your product contains retinol and not other topical retinoids like Retin A/tretinoin. The latter contains higher amounts of potent retinoic acid which can irritate the skin. These are prescription grade and are usually used to clear acne and not as an anti- ageing product.
  • Use a serum-based formulation for more oily skin and a cream-based retinol formulation for dry skin.