In every vitamin, you’ll find pleasing beauty benefits. Vitamin A however, is a cut above the rest. Its influence on the skin reads like a who’s who of skincare benefits as it works to improve uneven skin tone, stimulate collagen and elastin, minimise fine wrinkles and accelerate healing. It’s also long been considered the holy grail for anti-ageing and treating acne. Vitamin A is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover, so even without a specific skincare issue, it delivers the most noticeable glow.
For many, vitamin A is as confusing as it is beneficial, and resistance to implementing it into one’s skincare regime (even with all the stellar benefits it affords) often stems from the understanding that it can be harsh on the skin. In addition, there’s the uncertainties around what type and strength to use and how and when to use it.
As a refresher for those in the know, vitamin A does not refer to a single ingredient but a class of compounds (or derivatives of A). In this class live a family of r’s; retinoids, retinol, retinal (or retinaldehyde), and retinoic acid. This list alone is enough to fuel more confusion. But if we narrow our focus, it’s most commonly retinol which is found in professional skincare and yields game-changing results.
Here are some guidelines to introduce retinol safely and effectively into your skincare regime:
• When beginning your retinol journey, always start with lower percentages/concentrations and in smaller amounts, with the aim of gradually increasing this over time as your skin adjusts. Joyce Blok’s Vitamin A 0.5% is our gentle gem and a perfect place to start.
• Retinol is best applied at night. There are two schools of thought here: one being that it causes sun sensitivity, another that retinoids have been shown to break down and deactivate in the sun (which explains the opaque packaging they come in). But from those in either camp, the conclusion is always the same. Use retinol only at night, and regardless, SPF every day to protect from damaging UV rays.
• Retinol should be applied a couple of times a week, every other night, increasing to nightly (so long as it’s tolerated by the skin).
• After cleansing and drying, retinol should be applied first. Other products can be layered afterwards and the general rule of thumb is lightest to heaviest in formulation.
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