Retinol is probably one of the most misunderstood skincare ingredients out there. This is unfortunate because retinol is by far the most effective “correcting” ingredient in skincare. Other ingredients have surfaced in the cosmetic market promising that they are just as effective as Retinol without all the side effects.

It is true that ingredients such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 are beneficial because they keep the skin cells moving and grooving, however, they are incomparable at producing the same degree of activity within the cell. When an individual is suffering from a chronic skin disorder or progressive aging of the skin, these ingredients are not able to produce the same injury response as Retinol, which the necessary part of creating a corrective action in the skin.

How Retinol works

Retinol works by attaching itself to the cell and stimulating a response that significantly increases activity. Imagine the retinol molecule as a pack of rambunctious children that have come to invite the cell to bounce on the trampoline and keep up with them. This increase in activity creates an inflammatory response within the old damaged cell that the cell is too weak and tired to keep up. Instead, the cell creates a “cell death” response called Apoptosis. By clearing itself out, healthier cells have space to form. During retinol use, this process occurs continuously until the new cells are strong enough to withstand this increased activity and keep up with those rambunctious retinol molecules. It is at this point that the skin becomes tolerant and stops reacting to the retinol, leaving the skin strong and healthy.

The retinol process is different for everyone depending on how sluggish and sick an individual’s skin is. Reactions can range from mild to extreme, but reactions such as redness, irritation, itchiness, tingling sensation, dryness, flakiness, and tightness are completely normal.

Remember, this inflammatory response is necessary for retinol to be effective. This is nothing to be afraid of at all, however, the retinol process can be uncomfortable while tolerance is building. For those individuals suffering from chronic conditions such as acne and rosacea, it is incredibly important to create this type of reaction in the skin to flush out the damaged cells. For individuals experiencing progressive aging due to sun damage, it is also important to stimulate cell turnover and allow the skin to start producing a healthier, stronger network. Whatever the issue with the skin may be, it is important to create that reaction for the skin to learn how to heal itself.

Retinol is an efficient workout for the skin. The only thing to be fearful of in the case of Retinol use is how your skin would continue moving forward (retaining damaged cells) if retinol is not a regular part of your skincare regimen.

The Radical Night Repair Challenge

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen us talk about the radical night repair challenge that is done twice a year to give the skin a complete overhaul. One of our favourite skincare professionals, Dr. Rachael Eckel calls this challenge a “HIIT Workout” for the skin, which could not be more accurate. Using ten pumps of Radical Night Repair in the morning and at night, for five days straight, is a great way to get skin cells moving, kill off unhealthy cells, and bring out the healthy cells that give your skin that Smooth Glow!

During the retinol application stage of the challenge, Aimee’s skincare routine consisted of MORNING AND NIGHT:
1. Exfoliating cleanser (in the shower)
2. Complexion Renewal Pads
4. Firming Serum
**This routine is only for the duration of the challenge. Aimee’s routine is back to her regular GSR after the challenge is complete.

During the peeling stage of the challenge, Aimee’s skincare routine consisted of MORNING:
1. Exfoliating Cleanser
2. Complexion Renewal Pads
3. Exfoliation Accelerator
4. Daily Power Defense
5. Firming Serum
6. Hydrating Creme
*using the cold setting on my hairdryer during the whole time!

– Exfoliating Cleanser
– Firming Serum
– Hydrating Creme

Retinol may be a tricky ingredient to use because of the reaction that it gives the skin, however, when you remember that the result is healthy, glowing skin, it is temporary pain for a permanent reward (with regular skin maintenance, of course!).