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Whether you are looking to stave off the signs of aging or already have some creeping up on you, chances are you’re searching for a remedy. So, I am sure you have heard of or come across retinol and hyaluronic acid.
Even though both are hailed as anti-aging super ingredients, each has its own specific benefit.
Here you will learn what those benefits are, which would be better for your skin, and how to incorporate them into your routine.
Let’s start with hyaluronic acid
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a slippery and gooey-like fluid that is naturally produced in our bodies. It is found in our eyes, joints, and skin.
Other names you may see in a list of ingredients in products are hyaluronan and sodium hyaluronate.
HA can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it a humectant.
This powerful ingredient has become a buzzword in the beauty industry and for good reason!
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Hydration– Since it’s a humectant, this means that it attracts and keeps moisture in the skin. As we get older, our skin loses moisture, which leads to dryness and wrinkles. By using HA, you can keep your skin moisturized and plump.
Reduced Appearance of Fine Lines & Wrinkles- Because HA helps to hydrate the skin, it can also help to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. It does this by plumping up the skin and filling in any gaps caused by dehydration.
Improved Skin Texture- In addition to reducing fine lines and wrinkles, HA can also improve the overall texture of your skin. By keeping it hydrated and plump, your skin will look smoother and more supple.
Increased Elasticity- As we get older, our skin loses elasticity, which can lead to sagging and wrinkles. By using HA, you can help improve the elasticity of your skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.
Protection against environmental Stressors- HA also has antioxidant properties, which means it can protect your skin against damage from environmental stressors like pollution and UV rays.
Helps Wounds Heal- While maintaining moisture, it also helps relieve inflammation and regulate tissue repair.
How to use hyaluronic acid
HA is readily available over the counter and can be found in serums, creams, moisturizers, lotions, foam, and ointments. You can apply it to your skin 2 to 3 times a day.
But you can also find it in supplement form to increase your HA levels to benefit your skin along with your joints and eyes. Talk to your doctor before starting anything new, especially if you take other meds.
Professionals use hyaluronic acid as filler under your skin to help restore or enhance the natural shape or appearance of your skin. And because it’s produced naturally by the body, the chances of having an allergic reaction are low.
Are there any side effects?
Research has shown HA is safe to use, even while pregnant or nursing. It’s also suitable for all skin types.
It generally plays well with other ingredients with no adverse reactions. However, you always want to check with a dermatologist if unsure.
Also, you shouldn’t use above 2% hyaluronic acid because dryness and irritation can occur.
Not all products are made equally
When you go to choose a hyaluronic acid product, the molecular weight may be on the label because HA can come in different sizes.
If the acid has a low molecular weight, the deeper it can absorb into the skin. Of course, the higher the weight, it will just sit on top of the skin and be less effective.
Remember the other name, sodium hyaluronate, for hyaluronic acid? Usually, it costs less, but it’s also a smaller molecule.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a serum that contained both molecules? One to work deep and one to work on the surface.
Well, you’re in luck, because there is! It’s L Oreal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
This serum has what they call “macro” and “micro” molecules. The micro goes deep into the skin to hydrate and work on lines and wrinkles, while the macro holds and attracts moisture to the surface.
Now let’s get to know retinol
What is retinol?
Retinol is a form of vitamin A commonly used in skincare products, such as creams, gels, lotions, ointments, serums, and moisturizers because of its ability to improve skin texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a more even skin tone.
It has also proven useful for the treatment of acne.
While retinol is readily available over the counter, the more powerful form, tretinoin, has to be prescribed.
Benefits of retinol
Reduces the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles- Retinol is well known for its anti-aging properties. It can help stimulate collagen production, which in turn will reduce those pesky fine lines and wrinkles. Also, it should go without saying, your skin’s elasticity will improve.
Improves skin texture- Retinol helps improve skin texture by promoting cell turnover. This means dead skin cells are shed more quickly, revealing smoother and brighter skin. Increasing skin cell turnover will also help make your skin thicker.
Fades dark spots & hyperpigmentation- By inhibiting the production of melanin, retinol will fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Minimizes the appearance of pores- Retinol helps minimize the appearance of pores by preventing them from becoming clogged with oil and debris.
Helps with acne- Not only does keep pores from becoming clogged but it also helps regulate oil production. It also helps the swelling and inflammation that comes with breakouts.
Boosts skin hydration- Helps boost hydration by improving the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
How to use retinol
If you have never used retinol before, you should perform a patch test first. Wait a couple of days to make sure you have no negative reactions. I cover the side effects below.
Retinol comes in different strengths from 0.1% up to 3%.
Dermatologists generally recommend beginners start with 0.25% or 0.5%. Depending on how your skin tolerates the strength will help you determine how much to use it at first.
You can start by applying it once every 3 days and gradually work your way up to applying it every night. That’s right, at night is when you use retinol products.
Retinol is sensitive to sunlight making it less effective to wear during the day. It also makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight so always wear sunscreen when using retinol products.
If your skin is used to retinol, then you may be ready to try tretinoin.
Tretinoin is more powerful than retinol and can be up to 20 times as strong. Which is why it’s only available with a prescription.
However, in this age of the Internet, you don’t have to go to the office to get it. You can get a free consultation and the first month’s supply for just the shipping cost through Dermatica.
You will first have to select the state you live in so they can check if they can deliver there. From there you will fill out your skin goals and take some pictures so they can prescribe the right formula specifically for you.
They start with the lowest strength and gradually increase it as your skin gets used to the formula.
What are the side effects of retinol and tretinoin?
If you use either of these for acne, you should know that you may break out more at first. As skin cells turn over more, new clogs will rise to the top. Just stick with it and it will get better!
If you start with low strength and work your way up, you may not experience any side effects at all. However, you should be aware of the possibility.
As your skin gets used to the treatment, side effects usually disappear. However, if they persist, you may want to contact your doctor.
The more common side effects include:
- Mild Burning
- Mild Itching
- Mild Stinging
- Mild Scaling
- Mild Redness
- Mild Chapping or Peeling
- Warm Skin
- Dryness of Skin
- Lightening of Normal Skin Color
- Lightening of Areas Treated on Dark Skin
If any of these effects are more than mild, you should contact your doctor.
If you experience any of these and they become a nuisance, there is a little trick you can try. Instead of applying retinol or tretinoin before your moisturizer, you can apply it after. Doing this will help keep the irritation to a minimum.
Another side effect worth mentioning, that you can have complete control over, is sunburn. But this will only happen if you don’t wear sunscreen while using retinol and about a week after if you stop using it.
Who shouldn’t use retinol?
Not everyone can use retinol or tretinoin.
If you are pregnant, nursing, or can become pregnant, you should avoid using either. There is a high risk of the baby being born with birth defects.
Those with overly sensitive or hypersensitive skin should use high caution, as well as those with dry skin.
If you have food intolerances or high allergic reactions, you should ask your doctor before using a retinol product.
So, which one is better?
Now that you know how each one works, it’s not a straightforward answer.
Both hyaluronic acid and retinol can be effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles. So, if you can use both, you should.
Hyaluronic acid will hydrate the skin, help plump up the skin, and smooth out fine lines by attracting and retaining moisture.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that will help stimulate collagen production and increase cell turnover, which will improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of wrinkles over time.
While everyone can use hyaluronic acid, there are those who need to practice caution with retinol products.
Whether you choose to use one or the other or both, ultimately, the best choice will depend on your individual skin care goals.
All comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome!