Skincare

All you need to know about retinol and anti-ageing ingredients

Anti-ageing’s most potent ingredients just got more gentle to use – here’s everything you need to know about bringing the magic to your routine.

Dermatologist Lisa Connelly answers commonly asked questions about retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronicacid used in anti-ageing skincare. In partnership with La Roche-Posay, she explains how effective they really are and how to introduce them to your daily skincare routine. As the Director of Integrative Dermatology in New Plymouth, Lisa is all about science and efficacy – not woo-woo promises.
Is retinol effective?
The short answer is yes. Retinol is a form of vitamin A. When it is applied to the skin it is converted to retinoic acid. Its active form retinol has a potent effect on the skin both on the surface and at a deeper level. On the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) it stimulates cell renewal while in the dermis (second layer of the skin) it improves collagen production.
Why is collagen so important?
Collagen is a protein that gives strength and structure to the skin. As we age, natural collagen decreases, making our skin look and feel less supple. We can reverse these changes by ensuring our collagen production is maximised by using products that prevent its degradation or promote its production. Healthy collagen will increase the thickness
of the dermis, helping to keep skin plumped up.
So retinol is an effective anti-ageing ingredient?
Yes. Consistent use of retinol will resurface and improve the look of fine lines on the dermis, as well as operate on a deeper level to improve collagen production. Anti-ageing skincare
does work but you have to be savvy. There's a broad range of anti-ageing products out there and you can easily get lost, so make sure you check the ingredients are right for you.
Can I use retinol if I have sensitive skin?
Traditionally retinol was quite irritating to the skin. The new La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum is quite clever in its formulation as it has been combined with the soothing B3 vitamin, which protects against irritation by supporting a healthy skin barrier. La Roche-Posay is dermatologically-tested for people with sensitive skin and its new Retinol B3 Serum is no exception. However, when using on sensitive skin, it is always best to trial a new product on a small area first. If you do not have a reaction after several days of use, you can apply it more widely.
Can you apply it around the eyes?
It is not recommended anything be used around the eyes unless it has been specifically developed and tested for the eye contour area, such as La Roche-Posay Redermic Retinol Eyes.
Should sunscreen be worn when using retinol?
Yes. Retinol can make your skin sun-sensitive. I recommend regular use of a sunscreen when using a retinol-containing product. Sunscreens are our first line of defence again light-induced ageing (this includes infrared, UV, visible and blue light) and I consider them as essential tool in any anti-ageing skin regimen.
What does vitamin C do for skin?
The radiance-promoting antioxidant ingredient, found in Pure Vitamin C10 Serum, will help with protecting the skin from environmental damage. It does this by neutralising free radicals to prevent the degradation of collagen.
What about hyaluronic acid?
It's actually a sugar and its main function is to retain moisture in the skin. It holds onto water and gives skin that hydrated look. Like collagen, we lose hyaluronic acid over time, so replenishing it is essential. This can be done at many levels from injectable fillers to highly-concentrated serums. The Hyalu B5 Serum is a good option for those who prefer a less invasive approach.
Should you just use all three together?
We don't all age the same. The best treatment is the one that is right for you. While one patient may benefit from several products, others may only need one. For some people it is the hydration that is more of an issue, particularly in cooler weather, in which case a hyaluronic acid serum would be suitable. Someone with high-intensity UV exposure may require more antioxidant protection from vitamin C, while another may benefit from the exfoliative effects of retinol. I would apply the Retinol B3 in the evening because it is a photo-sensitive ingredient, meaning there is an increase risk of UV damage. Vitamin A also becomes degraded by the sun. You can use hyaluronic acid or your moisturiser on top. You would typically apply Hyalu B5 Serum or Pure Vitamin C10 Serum in the morning, depending on where in your treatment plan you want it.
When can I expect to see results?
Retinol and vitamin C are likely to take three months to see the full effect. However, hydrating products like hyaluronic acid can improve the appearance of the skin within a shorter period of time.
Why serums?
They're a more direct way for the skin to receive active ingredients. The goal is for these active ingredients to be absorbed into the skin rather than sit on the surface. Serums, such as La Roche-Posay Redermic Retinol B3 Serum, La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum and La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Serum penetrate deeper into the skin and complement the hydrating effect of the moisturiser.
All La Roche-Posay serums RRP $74.99 from selected Life, Unichem and independent pharmacies, Chemist Warehouse and themarket.com.