Demystifying your lotions & potions – Retinol

Demystifying your lotions and potions!


For many, reading the label on the back of our cosmetics containers is about as informative as trying to read a novel in Russian having never studied the language before.  In other words, it’s a pretty confusing square inch of paper!  As a result,  Appearance Based Medicine is introducing a new series of blogs on skincare ingredients to try and demystify your lotions and potions! We hope it helps!

Today we’ll be taking a look at Retinol – a key ingredient in many anti-ageing skincare products – and finding out what it is, what it does, and how best it should be used if you want to get the best results out of your skincare products.

Scientific studies have shown that Retinoids are capable of making a positive difference to everything from smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, to reducing the appearance of dark spots and making pores appear smaller.[i]  Indeed, one Cochrane review published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy stated that “Retinoids are capable not only of repairing photo-aged skin at both the clinical and biochemical levels but their use may prevent photo-ageing.”[ii]

Retinol is an animal derivative of Vitamin A that actively works to increase production of fibroblasts in the dermal layer of the skin, increasing the production of collagen and elastin and improving the strength and resiliency of the skin as an effective natural barrier[iii].  Prescription-only treatments for acne (as well as other skin issues such as wrinkles and some of the visible symptoms of prolonged sun-exposure) contain ‘Retinoic Acid’; Retinoic Acid is the actual ‘magic ingredient’ that the body needs for optimal skin health, and is naturally produced by the body from Retinol, though Dana Sachs, an associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School, advised that ‘there is a lot of literature showing that while Retinol is more gentle than Retinoic Acid, biochemically it does exactly the same thing – it may just take longer to see results’[iv] Unfortunately, Retinol as a chemical ingredient is subject to degradation[v] if it is not stored correctly or in appropriate containers.  It can also cause skin irritation, particularly if it is used incorrectly.

At Appearance Based Medicine, we sell a number of products containing Retinol both in Clinic and in our online shop – products such as iS Clinical’s Poly-Vitamin Serum, a product carefully designed and developed by dermatological experts to:

* Promote cellular efficiency and regeneration

* Revitalise ageing and compromised skin

* Increase collagen production

* Improve skin tone and elasticity

All iS Clinical products come with clear usage guidelines that I strongly recommend you read before application.  In addition to this, if you have any questions or concerns about using skincare products containing Retinol, I’d be more than happy to answer your questions with the benefit of my clinical knowledge and experience – feel free to email [email protected] and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

You can also book in for a consultation with me at the Appearance Based Medicine Clinic for a detailed skincare assessment using our Stratum Skin Analysis System, as then I will be able to tailor skincare product advice to your unique skin requirements and recommend specific iS Clinical, Lycogel, Skinade or Jeunesse products for you to try to target your skin concerns.

[iii] Katzev, P.K., Katzev Phillip K, 1991. Retinol skin care composition. U.S. Patent 5,002,760.
[v] Liu, J.C., Wang, J.C., Yusuf, M., Yamamoto, N. and Kazama, S., Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products, Inc., 2000. Skin care composition comprising a retinoid. U.S. Patent 6,080,393.