All You Need to Know About Retinoids


An extra candle a year on your birthday cake comes with its own side effects. The inevitable and unacceptable to all of us is ageing. But then, the needles of a clock have never fallen into the hands of a human. So, can we reverse time? At least on our face and our skin? Yes, through an anti-ageing rescuer – Retinoid.

Retinoid is a huge umbrella term that encompasses the entire gamut of Vitamin A derivative ingredients when it comes to skincare. Here is what you need to know about Retinoids.

What are Retinoids?

Retinoids, derivatives related to Vitamin A are topical or oral products that help with acne, anti-aging, and hyper-pigmentation. If you have ever come across products with retinoic acid, retinol or tretinoin, you are sure to know of retinoids. They help in the normalization of hyper keratinization, i.e. they assist in sloughing off your skin’s dead cells at a more normalized rate such that the dead skin cells won’t drag together and thus won’t clog your pores.

How Do They Work?

Retinoids work through the binding process of specific retinoic acid receptors (RARs) in the skin and activating them. This activation of the receptors brings in the collagen (the skin elasticity agent that delivers a youthful appearance) production and skin desquamation. Different receptors act differently when activated. The combination of all these factors gets the retinoids to enhance the way the skin sheds and rejuvenates itself by stimulating a cellular turnover through the deeper skin layers, contacting the living cells to produce healthier, new cells. Retinoids are like cell-communicators instructing the skin cells how to perform in the best possible way.

Different Forms

Retinol, retinyl retinoic acid and palmitate are all categories of retinoids, but where they differ in through their strength. Retinoic acid, which is available only through prescription, is the only one among the three to directly affect the skin. The other two types of retinoids are found in over-the-counter beauty products and are still effective, it is just that the way they work is slower. The skin secretes enzymes which naturally alter retinol and retinyl palmitate into retinoic acid.

Benefits of Using Retinoids

Long term usage of retinoid essentially alters the skin by manipulating the gene expression such that new skin cells are formed and divided to function at their best. Consistent usage of retinoids keeps the skin clear, evens out the skin tone, repairs sun damage, and prevents pre-mature aging. This skin-enhancing factor, besides other anti-inflammatory properties and exfoliating, make retinoids the Holy Grail for anti-aging and acne treatments. Even those with a clear, wrinkle-free skin can use retinoids as a preventative measure to maintain the skin’s health in the long run.

Sensitive to Light

No doubt that retinoids are highly effective acne-fighting and anti-aging ingredient; but they possess a rather unstable molecule which breaks down very easily when exposed to oxygen and light. On the product label if you see the word “microencapsulated”, it indicates that the formula comprising retinol contained in tiny, invisible spheres which break open with their application to the skin. These capsules guard the retinol from light and heat, so they won’t degrade so quickly as you open the product. Besides, they control its release and help it penetrate deeper into the skin. Due of its light sensitivity, never forget to wear sunscreen along with a retinoid.