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Most of us are constantly seeking eternal youth, in terms of our skin at least, looking for the next thing that will reduce wrinkles, tighten skin, plump up those cheeks and give us back that glow of youth that sadly we had no idea we had at the time!
Many of us will already have a retinol or 2 gracing our dressing tables or filling out bathroom shelves. But for the uninitiated what exactly is this miracle product that promises to turn back time on our skin?
What is retinol?
In its most basic terms, retinol (or retinoid/retinal/retinaldehyde or any other variations) is Vitamin A. So products that contain Vitamin A are essentially a form of retinol. Most over the counter retinol products contain a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A – one that is mild enough to use as part of your skincare routine.
Retinol has received cult status in the skincare world due to its ability to reduce, and even prevent, the signs of ageing. Its anti-ageing properties are so impressive that it’s considered to be the gold standard of skincare ingredients.
So what does retinol do?
Retinol promotes skin renewal and enhances collagen production, which leads to smoother, firmer more youthful-looking skin. It can also improve the look of dark spots or pigmentation and reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
So how does this miracle product achieve such amazing results? Rather than removing dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, Vitamin A sinks deep into your skin’s dermis – the middle layer of your skin. Once it’s in there it neutralises free radicals, the unstable atoms that damage your skin, boosting collagen production and elastin. This leads to plumper, more glowing skin. So good at boosting collagen and elastin that stronger retinoids are often prescribed by dermatologists to treat acne-scarred skin. Sounds pretty amazing right?
So are there any downsides?
While not exactly a downside it does come with a word of warning – it’s potent. And if used incorrectly Vitamin A can make your skin dry, flaky, red and just overall irritated. Always best used at night due to the risk of sun sensitivity, you need to build up a tolerance to retinol. Starting by using it once or twice a week and building up to nightly use. Otherwise, you could be faced with a couple of weeks of the dreaded retinol burn! Sun damage is also a real risk with regular retinol use. It’s therefore extremely important that a daily SPF is used to protect your skin. On top of this, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using retinol products.
It’s also worth noting that retinol products, either serums or creams, come in different strengths, starting from 0.01% up to 1% pure Vitamin A. Novice users or those with sensitive skin should start with low strength retinol and build their way up.
La Roche-Posay B3 Retinol Serum
I have sensitive skin, which can also be dry and sometimes eczema-prone. So it has taken me until now to take the plunge and start using a retinol serum. Wary that any of the more potent retinol serums would just be too irritating to my skin, I was happy to come across La Roche-Posay’s B3 Retinol serum. This super-sensitive serum contains 0.3% retinol, made up of 0.1% pure retinol and 0.2% gradual release retinol. Alongside vitamin B3 to soothe skin and promote moisture retention, as well as glycerine for intense hydration. Basically, it’s strong enough to reduce my fine lines, and even out skin tone, while also being specially formulated for sensitive skin like mine. Win-win!
Using the product
The lovely light texture of the La Roche-Posay B3 retinol serum means it sinks into my skin easily, leaving no residue. It’s also scent-free which for us sensitive type is a plus. The lovely red glass bottle has a dropper application that delivers just the right amount of product. And the coloured glass helps to stop the serum oxidising in the light, again another plus point.
I used the serum once a week as instructed, waking in the morning expecting some irritation, dryness or redness. However, I was surprised to find that my skin tolerated the product really well, within the first use my skin was softer, smoother and more hydrated. Gradually as directed I increased use to 3 times a week. And then nightly use after 3 weeks, with no adverse side effects, proving this serum is just as kind to skin as advertised!
I have religiously used this serum for about a month now, and I’m so pleased with the results! My skin looks smoother and feels firmer, and those fine lines on my forehead have diminished. As well as this my skin looks more plump and youthful, the beginnings of sagging on cheeks that I was aware of before have definitely improved.
When I finish this bottle will I consider moving up to a more potent retinol serum? Yes. However I would 100% recommend this product to anyone looking to start their retinol journey, its skin-friendly, moisturising formula is the perfect way to introduce your skin to the wonders of Vitamin A!
La Roche-Posay 0.3% Retinol plus Vitamin B3 Serum is £38 and is available from the following retailers: