How Does Retinol Work?
When you apply retinol, your skin turns it into retinoic acid at a cellular level, which promotes cell turnover, and increases collagen and elastin production. Basically, retinol helps generate fresh skin, so that means less dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles and even acne. I gathered that you can use products with retinol in them, or you can go straight for the stronger retinoic acid products (by prescription). However, I also learned that retinoic acid, while it may show results faster, can also cause sensitivity and skin flaking. According to this article, they essentially will do the same thing, but it will take longer to see results with retinol vs retinoic acid. There are also products that contain retinyl propionate, the even gentler (but maybe weaker) version of Vitamin A.
Retinol Can Cause Skin Sensitivity
So apparently it’s a common misconception that retinol is an exfoliant, which is why some people experience redness and flaking when using it. However, that is due to the cell turnover and shedding of dead skin. I read that you can power through it (and your skin may adjust) or you can use a less potent product. Retinol, although it reveals beautiful fresh skin, it can also make your skin more sun sensitive, so you should wear at least SPF 30 daily.