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July 30 2014

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Retinol: A Rundown

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This column features weekly tips and advice from a revolving cast of industry leaders, on hand to discuss your beauty dilemmas, from blemishes to Botox. To submit a question, e-mail celia_ ellenberg@condenast.com.

Why is retinol such a lauded ingredient—and why do most creams recommend using it during the night and not during the day? Are there any forms of retinol that can be used in sunlight?

“Doctors Kligman and Fulton are credited with the discovered uses for Retin-A, which is more commonly used in cosmetics in its over-the-counter adaptation, called retinol. First used for acne, it was later discovered as effective in an even larger market: antiaging. Retinol is a prescription vitamin A derivative that has shown to stimulate blood flow, increase collagen synthesis, and promote cell turnover. But as part of this process, the skin can become quite irritated and dry. Of more concern is that the newly revealed skin cells are delicate and should not be exposed to the sun, which is why it is recommended for nighttime use only—and even when used at night, retinol-treated skin is still sensitive and requires an SPF during the day.

I am not aware of any effective form of retinol that could or should be used during the day. As a matter of fact, if any product claims it, I would want to look into the true level of the ingredient and the effectiveness of it. Remember the mechanism: If the product is effective, by nature, you should not use it during the day. Retinol is also susceptible to light and air (oxygen), causing it to oxidize. There are very few over-the-counter retinol products I would even suggest using, although I know SkinCeuticals has one that is encapsulated with a time-release form of retinol to protect its efficacy and minimize irritation.”

With over 20 years of experience developing products for some of the most recognized brands in the skin care industry, David Pollock has become a strong voice in the “safe beauty” movement. Speaking out and educating consumers on the potentially harmful ingredients in personal care products via his own website, frequent radio appearances, and the informative book Just Stop The Lies, Pollock launched his first product line, PUR Attitude, this month.

Photo: Courtesy of Skinceuticals

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