Retinol is a classic skincare ingredient that delivers serious anti-aging benefits. But despite its prevalence, misconceptions about retinol continue to exist. Read on for the real deal on retinol: we’ll dig into the facts and fictions around this stellar anti-ager.
MYTH: Retinol works by exfoliating your skin.
TRUTH: Retinol can cause peeling, but this is due to irritation, not true exfoliation. Retinoids actually work by changing gene expression and boosting collagen production, which in turn smooths wrinkles and evens skin pigmentation.
MYTH:Retinol increases your sunburn risk.
TRUTH: This is widely accepted, but totally untrue! Retinol products break down in sunlight, which is why they are packaged in opaque containers and should usually be used only at night. Retinol products do not make skin more susceptible to sunburns, however (this is backed up by clinical studies).
MYTH: You should discontinue use if retinol products irritate your skin.
TRUTH: If you can push through it, slight skin irritation is often part of the process when first using retinoids. Clinical trials have shown that after 2-3 weeks, the skin typically adapts and begins to tolerate retinol products. However, if discomfort is prolonged or extreme, it’s a good idea to reduce use to 1-2 times a week or dilute the product with a non-retinol skin cream.
MYTH: You shouldn’t use retinol around your eyes.
TRUTH: Actually, studies have demonstrated that people who use retinol around the eye area see the most dramatic results, which is unsurprising given that the effects of aging tend to show up most notably around the eyes. If you accidentally get a retinol product in your eye, it may sting but it won’t cause lasting harm (just be sure to flush thoroughly with water).
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