Retinol (Vitamin A) is one of my favourite skincare ingredients. Just like a good Vitamin C serum, a good retinol product can be completely transforming for the skin. It not only reduces/treats fine lines and wrinkles, but has a lot many more benefits, like it reduces pore size, controls excess oil production, evens out skin tone, reduces pigmentation, and stimulates collagen production.I have written about retinols before. With the onset of winters, I believe it is the right time to talk about these.Some things to definitely keep in mind –

• Always start with low strength retinol. It is a potent ingredient, so let your skin get used to it

• Retinols are not for everyone. People with sensitive skin should consult a dermatologist before using them

• Tretinoin, Tazorac and Differin are all prescription-based strong retinoids. Use under a dermatologist’s guidance

• Retinol makes your skin sensitive to the sun. Applying sunblock daily is a must, else you might end up with sunburns and more pigmentation

• Avoid using high strength retinols in peak summer months. Re-introduce them in cooler months

• A good moisturiser is a must. You can mix a pea size of retinol in your moisturiser. Apply it before or even after using your moisturiser. See what works best for you

• A pea size is more than enough for the entire face; a bit more if applying on the neck

• Use it only at night, unless advised by your dermalotolgist to apply during the day

• Keep your retinol in a cool, dry place. They go bad fast

• Avoid applying powerful ingredients like acids (glycolic acid). Use one potent ingredient at a time

Lastly, retinols work best when you know your skin type, and then go for the strength accordingly. They come in gel, serum and cream forms. Take a dermatologist’s guidance to choose the right one with minimal side effects.

Here are some favorites –

The Ordinary – Granactive Retinoid 5% In Squalane (high strength, zero to low irritation)A highly advanced form of retinoid (non-prescription), it is very gentle on the skin. I’m currently using it at night and the results are good – and no redness or dryness. I apply a few drops all over my face and neck followed by a moisturiser.

Sesderma Retises 0.50

I have used this one in the past. It contains Vitamin C along with good strength retinol. They say you can apply it in the day as well, but I prefer night use. No redness or dryness in this one too. First timers should start by applying 3 times a week for 2 weeks and then every night.

ZO Skin Health Retamax 0.5 (high strength)

It’s my favorite! A blend of stem cells, antioxidants, active vitamin A, and biomimetic protein that helps activate skin regeneration. You might get redness, dryness and the skin might feel itchy too. I use this one strictly under my doctor’s supervision, and again, for a short period of time.

Obagi Tretinoin Cream 0.25

This one is strictly prescription-based. It is strong, and is also used for treating acne. Other benefits- refines pores, reduces pigmentation and enhances collagen production. It causes irritation, skin peeling and makes your skin highly sensitive to the sun. Use for a short-term only.Love,Shagun#StayRealStayYou