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Arguably the most widely used ingredient in the management of skin ageing and treatment of acne, few ingredients have the boasting ability for delivering benefits to the skin that topical retinoids and retinol have, with the research and evidence behind it.

Hailing from the Vitamin A family, simply put, retinol products are over the counter formulations that contain retinol esters; think retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde which require a conversion process by our skin to become retinoid acid whereas prescription retinoids; think tretinoin, adapalene is retinoic acid and works as soon as it is in contact with the skin.

Both forms have their positives and negatives in regards to cost, adverse reactions, and accessibility. Something always discussed in consultations if retinol/retinoids are right for you.

My philosophy on the frequency of retinol/retinoid use for anti-ageing has always been reflective of the decade you sit in.

My clients would know that in many cases I have asked them to reduce usage depending on their age, skin type, and concerns. I always prescribe that they use the retinol product based on the decade they sit in.

I have seen many clients in their 20’s and 30’s using retinol/retinoids far too much with evident signs of overuse on their skin; excessive oil production, sensitivity, irritation, and vascular permeability.

The reason why I have always prescribed frequency of usage based on age is that where retinol/retinoids really works is speeding up the cellular turnover of our skin which decreases as we age. This is the complete renewal of our epidermis where the most superficial cells are replaced with new ones. Notice I didn’t call them dead skin cells; that’s because none of our skin cells are dead-hence why I’m an advocate of treating even your most superficial layer with the utmost of care (no harsh scrubs ever), but more on that in posts to come.

In our 20’s, the rate at which our skin turns over a full skin cycle is approximately 28 days; this slows down with age with some studies suggesting that from the age of 36, your age then determines the rate at which your epidermis completely renews. Fancy that!

With that said, my general guide to retinol/retinoid use is as follows:
20’s – twice a week
30’s – three nights a week
40’s – four nights a week
50’s- five nights a week
60’s – six nights a week
70’s – seven nights a week

Of course, this is general advice and skin type, the formulation used (crucial), other ingredients used in the regime, and skin concerns are always taken into account such as the case when we are treating acne as most clients will work their way up to nightly usage.

As with everything in our repertoire, we choose products based on efficacy and have selected the best in this category for your perusal here.