I first used a retinol (Vitamin A) based product in my late 20s. Reckless sun exposure, while on beach holidays, had aggravated my pigmentation problem, and my doctor prescribed the strongest version available. After about 5 months, he recommended that I switch to over-the-counter products for everyday use. By this time, I had seen the results of this almost miraculous ingredient and I loved it! I have been using it ever since, and I cannot recommend it enough.

A high quality, light retinol product can transform your skin. I would go as far as to say that if you start early enough, and use it regularly, retinol can keep invasive anti-ageing procedures at bay for a long time. Retinol can reduce pigmentation, boost collagen, increase production of hyaluronic acid, improve skin firmness, reduce dark circles, fine lines and wrinkles. It is also excellent for treating acne, acne scars and reducing enlarged pores. It is an antioxidant and can exfoliate wonderfully well. But it is important to keep in mind that retinol is very potent and needs to be used correctly.

To begin with, there are 2 forms of Vitamin A. First is Retin A (tretinoin), known as Retino A in India. This is a strong, potent synthetic version. It needs to be prescribed and should not be used by pregnant women. It causes a lot of redness, flakiness and peeling. You could be allergic to it as well. People with sensitive skin should avoid using it.

The second kind is retinol – a natural form of vitamin A which is a milder, over-the-counter product. It has minimum side effects and does not require a prescription. This is added to your night creams, serums and oils. Always follow the instructions to avoid side effects. By now you all know that sunblock is a must. While using retinol you must use SPF 30-40 sunblock everyday. As for all you beach babies and sun worshippers – stop using Retin A and retinol one week before your vacation and increase the strength of your sunblock to SPF 50 . Avoiding exposure at peak times when sun is the strongest (10am-4pm)

Right now, I am using Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil Night time Treatment. This contains 0.1 percent pure retinol which is the maximum strength that can be sold over the counter. I use it every night, though the instructions say it should be applied 3 times a week. But then, I have been using retinol for many years and my skin is used to it. First time users should definitely follow the instructions on the pack and strictly avoid contact with the lips and eye area. In case of any discomfort, please consult a doctor immediately.

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Some other excellent retinol based products include:

Ponds Age Miracle Cell Regen Deep Action Night Cream

This product has very promising results. It has been tried and tested by quite a few ladies in my family and they highly recommend it.

Ponds age miracle - cdn.aplava
Photo credits: cdn.aplava

Avene Retrinal 0.1 Cream

This is very mild and gentle on the skin. It takes a while for results to show, but it is well worth the wait. This is available at Religare pharmacies as well as online.

Avene - lifewith kathy
Photo credits: Lifewithkathy

Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum

In addition to Vitamin A, this serum also has other anti-aging, and hydrating key ingredients, such as alpha lipoic acid. It is infused with coconut oil and sunflower seed oil. It is available on www.iherb.com

mad hippie - iherb.com
Photo credits: iherb.com

Dr Reddys Revibra A15 Pure Retinol Cream, 28 Vegicaps

The instructions say this can be applied during the day, but I advise against it. During the day, we also apply a number of other products like sun block, foundation, make up, and the combination might trigger acne. Plus, retinols are correctors that should be applied on its own, on fresh, clean skin. Most importantly, your skin heals at night while you sleep, so it makes sense to apply this at night for best results.

Dr-Reddy-Strea-a15-review - wise she
Photo credits: Wise She

Obagi Tretinoin Cream

This is a prescription formula. It has excellent results but also quite a few annoying side effects such as redness flakiness peeling and swelling. Always consult your dermatologist before experimenting with this one.

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As a word of caution, before trying on any retinol based product, please do a patch test to see how your skin reacts to it.In case of any irritation caused, stop product usage immediately.

Try out a retinol enriched product and let me know how it works for you. Write to me below or using #stayrealstayyou on Instagram @shagunkhanna