A beginner's guide to retinol.
Skin Care

What is Retinol? A Beginner’s Guide to Using This Powerhouse Ingredient.

Retinol is often referred to as a powerhouse ingredient. The reason it’s referred to as such is because it is strong. Its strength is what makes it effective, but also what makes it dangerous. Keep reading to learn how to properly tame this skincare beast.
Photo by Park Street on Unsplash

Retinol. An ingredient that is heard of by many and understood by few. It’s often referred to as a powerhouse ingredient which makes it all the more mysterious and alluring.

Many of you may be sold on the idea of incorporating it into your routine without actually knowing what it does or how to use it. Although I don’t blame you for quickly jumping on the retinol bandwagon, I can’t stress how important it is to understand this ingredient in its entirety so as not to damage your skin. The reason it’s referred to as a powerhouse ingredient is because it is strong. Its strength is what makes it effective, but also what makes it dangerous. Keep reading to learn how to properly tame this skincare beast.

WHAT IS RETINOL?

Retinol (also known as vitamin A) is an over-the-counter form of retinoid, which is usually prescribed by a doctor. Retinols work by increasing collagen production as well as increasing the rate of cell turnover. New York dermatologist Shari Marchbein, M.D. mentions that retinols ‘also help treat acne, blackheads, and clogged pores by reducing stickiness of the cells that clog pores, as well as speeding up the rate at which the skin turns over and regenerates.’

Because retinol is an over-the-counter retinoid, it is milder than prescription retinoids which makes it ideal for at-home use. Ideally, one should slowly build up their resistance to retinol and eventually apply it every single night. Key work here is slowly. This is a process, folks. Patience is required.

WHO IS IT FOR?

As mentioned above, retinol serves many purposes. It prevents wrinkles, brightens dull skin, treats acne and fades dark spots. With that logic, retinol can help everyone from mature skin, to acne sufferers and anyone in between! Over time, retinol can help increase the production of collagen and elastin in the dermis. Not only does this ingredient provide short term results, but it also aids in the long-term health and appearance of your skin.

If you have perfect skin with no issues whatsoever, lucky you! In your case, most dermatologists would recommend you start using retinol in your thirties, just as your collagen production begins to slow down. In fact, as dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale University explains: ‘Up until your early-30s, your cells turn over every 28 days, creating a fresh layer of untouched, pristine skin. But after you hit your mid-30s, your cell regeneration slows down, turning over every 50, 60, or 70 days. Retinol, however, sinks into your skin and speeds up cell turnover, causing your body to churn out fresher, smoother skin again.’

HOW DO I USE IT?

We asked our medical aesthetician, Paule, to inform us on how to properly incorporate this ingredient into our routines. For beginners, she recommends starting off by using it twice a week, every 3 nights for the first 2 weeks. If your skin is tolerating it well- i.e. not too red or irritated, then you can add another night per week to this regimen. As time goes on, you can maintain that same time frame: increasing by one night every 2 weeks until you’re up to using it every single night.

If you’ve been using your retinol every night for a few months, and you feel like you want to increase your retinol strength, you absolutely can. However, be sure to start the process all over again. Using it twice a week, every 3 nights for the first 2 weeks and increasing slowly. I cannot stress how important it is to go slowly, as retinol can burn like no other. Trust me.

If you feel like your skin is dry when using retinol, you can apply your night cream or moisturizer on top of it, 10 minutes after you applied your layer of retinol.

IS IT SAFE FOR SENSITIVE SKIN?

For those of you who have sensitive skin, Paule recommends using retinol with a slow release system. A slow release system ensures that the active ingredient is released into your skin in small doses over time and not all at once, which can cause irritation in some people. She also recommends starting at a low percentages. The SkinMedica retinol 0.25 and the SkinCeuticals 0.3 are great for beginners with sensitive skin. PCA Skin also offers a retinol treatment designed specifically for sensitive skin. Paule also mentions that people with sensitive skin should start with using retinol once a week and should add a layer of moisture on top to soothe and hydrate the skin. If you experience any irritation or discomfort, discontinue use.

So there you have it! A beginner’s guide to retinol. As you can see, it’s not hard to see why this ingredient is touted by so many in the industry. There’s no such thing as a miracle ingredient, but this one is pretty close! Discover our selection of retinol products and get a clear, glowing complexion for the new year!

Skin Care

How to Treat Hyperpigmentation

Before getting into how to treat hyperpigmentation, let’s define what the term actually means, shall ...

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Before getting into how to treat hyperpigmentation, let’s define what the term actually means, shall we?

This umbrella term describes a condition in which the skin is discolored or darkened due to an array of factors. In fact, hyperpigmentation can be caused by past blemishes, eczema and psoriasis flare-ups, melasma, and of course, excess sun exposure. We would argue that sun exposure is at the root of most stubborn hyperpigmentation issues. That is why one of the main steps in treating hyperpigmentation is daily sunscreen application. The sun is not our friend. At least when it comes to keeping a clear, youthful complexion. 

Many of us, myself included, scour the internet to find the miracle product that will save us from our stubborn hyperpigmentation. The sad truth is that treating dark marks is a long process that requires patience and different types of treatments. Topical products can only do so much and more intense treatments like lasers are recommended to really eliminate the issue at its core. That being said, you should always consult your dermatologist with any skin concern you may have.

While topical products aren’t a cure-all solution in most hyperpigmentation cases, they can definitely help. We’ve asked our aesthetician and Tata Harper Specialist Emmanuelle to name a few products that will help you treat your dark spots and reveal a clear, glowing complexion. Here are her recommendations.

EXFOLIATING CLEANSERS

Exfoliation and cell-turnover are very important when it comes to tackling signs of hyperpigmentation. These cleansers contain active ingredients like AHAs, BHAs and brightening ones like Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide that all help fight hyperpigmentation. Ideally, you would use these cleansers as a second step in your double-cleansing routine, following your oil cleanse.

VITAMIN C SERUMS

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant known for its brightening properties. It is an ingredient found in most products designed for treating hyperpigmentation. It’s also effective in combatting free radical damage, keeping your skin healthy and glowing! This is definitely a must in a skincare regimen.

TARGETED BRIGHTENING SERUMS

If you’re already using Vitamin C and a good cleanser but need an extra punch, think of incorporating a targeted treatment serum into your routine. These 3 products are packed with active ingredients designed to assist in targeting and improving the appearance of discolouration, leaving the skin more evenly toned and healthy. Lytera is one of our bestsellers and works at brightening the overall complexion, not just the dark spots.

RETINOLS

Topical retinols work by increasing cell-turnover which helps diminish signs of hyperpigmentation quicker and more effectively. They also increase the production of collagen, improve the skin’s texture and help fight signs of aging. Another must in a skincare routine. The con of using topical retinols is that they can be irritating to the skin which is why you should start slow and with a low dosage. If you have sensitive skin, a naturally-derived retinol like the Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate oil might be a better option for you!

HYDROQUINONE

Hydroquinone is an ingredient used to lighten hyperpigmentation. Both of these Vivier products contain 2% Hydroquinone, which is the highest dose you can receive in Canada without a prescription! If you have stubborn dark spots that just won’t leave, Hydroquinone may be a good option for you! People with sensitive skin may not be able to tolerate this ingredient, which is why it’s important to talk to your dermatologist before use.

SUNSCREEN

Sunscreen may be the most important step in fighting hyperpigmentation. In fact, even if you have the best skincare routine full of active ingredients that target dark spots, if you don’t protect your skin with an SPF, you may as well be pouring your products down the drain. Sun exposure is the number one cause of hyperpigmentation as it causes the production of melanin in your skin. No matter the time of year, you need to be applying an SPF of at least 30!

Ready to treat your hyperpigmentation once and for all? Make your way to our website!

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Skin Care

5 Anti-Aging Skin Care Ingredients You Need to Know About

As we age, our skin loses firmness and elasticity—causing it to look saggy and loose. Fine lines and wrinkles seem to start appearing out of nowhere, and while we are not trying to look like the 20-year-old versions of ourselves, we still want brighter, smoother and younger looking skin. Discover the 5 anti-aging products that will help you age gracefully!

As we age, our skin loses firmness and elasticity—causing it to look saggy and loose. Fine lines and wrinkles seem to start appearing out of nowhere, and while we are not trying to look like the 20-year-old versions of ourselves, we still want brighter, smoother and younger looking skin. Discover the 5 anti-aging products that will help you age gracefully!

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