I’ve been getting this question a lot lately and thought I’d address it right here: ‘If retinols so freakin’ awesome why do so many cosmetics companies use mild retinol derivatives like retinyl palmitate as opposed to the big R itself?’
The answer’s pretty simple; retinol is a potent ingredient. It’s something you shouldn’t just buy and slap on your face sommer so. You need to build up tolerance for it, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. If not, you could end up with redness or peeling. This is why Environ have a range of retinol creams at different strengths so you can get used to it before using their big kahuna retinol cream. Thus, as big beauty brands would much rather appeal to a wider audience and not have to deal with upset customers shrieking ‘X brand turned me all red and then my whole face peeled off!’ they tend to use the softer, less potent retinol derivatives that’ll play nicely with the masses.
So, if you’re a diehard when it comes to anti-aging, make a point of looking out for products that contain actual retinol and list it fairly high up in the ingredients list. A few of my favourite retinol-focused brands include the aforementioned Environ as well as RegimA, Neutrogena, RoC (which I buy via eBay as it’s now sadly discontinued in SA) and Paula’s Choice, an amazing American brand that now have a local website so you can buy online.
There’s a lot of pressure on cosmetics companies to innovate and bring out new lines every few months so they’re always touting new and amazing ingredients; things like the essence of a golden orchid that only blooms at midnight or the extract of a rare sea cucumber you’ll only find in Brazil but the fact is retinol’s still the golden standard in wrinkle-busting. If it weren’t, it wouldn’t be the number one go-to product recommended by dermatologists around the globe. It’s just not very ‘exciting’ anymore.
Anyway it’s also worth mentioning that retinol alone isn’t going to save your face. A good beauty routine is one that ensures your skin gets a good mix of ingredients proven to help turn back the hands of time, so make sure you’re also using other products that contains collagen-encouraging antioxidants like vitamin C and E.
Last but not least, don’t bother wasting your cash on an ‘anti-aging face’ wash. It doesn’t matter how many anti-aging ingredients it contains, retinol included, as they’ll only sit on your face for all of ten seconds before being washed down the drain. Rather ensure your active ingredients exist in your creams and serums so they’ll actually absorb into your skin to work their magic. One more thing; if you’re using an anti-aging face cream there’s no reason to buy a separate eye cream. (Feel free to challenge me on this and I’ll refer you to a zillion experts who say the same thing and aren’t invested in making billions a year by selling you an extra, often more expensive, anti-aging cream in an even smaller jar.) The only reason you’d need one is if you want to address a different concern, like puffiness or dark circles caused by lethargic circulation*.
Okay, so I’ll shut up now. I hope this clears things up.
*For the record, the majority of under eye circles are due to the fact that the skin under your eyes is thinner than the rest of your face. In this case, you can zap them with a good concealer or possibly consider getting a filler like Juverderm injected underneath your eyes to thicken up the skin. It works like a bomb and should only cost around R2000 with a result that’ll last nine months. A great option for men, but as a girl, I’m happy to stick to a great cover up.