Demystifying retinol


Retinol is another name for vitamin A. It’s a type of retinoid, the family of chemical compounds related to vitamin A. Other retinoids include retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, and retinyl palmitate. In addition to being a trusted treatment for acne, retinol is famous for its anti-ageing properties as well. Retinols increase the cell turnover rate, unclog pores and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinols now come as OTC serums, creams and night reparative creams option. One can easily introduce these in their routine skincare regimen, as they have very less concentration of retinol that gently improves the skin quality over time.

There is a lot of misinformation regarding retinols in general, mostly due to lack of understanding of the exact type. All retinols are retinoids, but the reverse is not true. Retinoids have a much higher cell turnover rate so it is given for unresponsive acne or severe acne conditions. But retinols on the other hand cause controlled cell turnover which leads to rejuvenation of skin in a subtle manner.

There’s no such specificity of use for Indian skin or any gender specifications. The only thing that one needs to know before using retinol products is if their skin is hypersensitive, too dry or too irritated.

Dos and Donts:

  1. Start with a small amount. Too much too soon can lead to dryness and excessive peeling of skin.
  2. Use sunscreen always while on any of these products.
  3. Buy dermatologist recommended products, as not all retinols are effective. Retinoids, in this regard, is best left for the doctor to decide, as wrong strength, large quantity or use when not required can further harm the skin.


Before buying a retinol based product, it is recommended to have a skin assessment done with a qualified skin specialist. Not only will this help understand whether these products will be of  help to enhance skin structure, but also rule out if incase one does not need them. There’s a wide range of tempting creams n serums in the market, and without proper knowledge of your skin type and the product of choice, you may end up only worsening your skin. Hence, professional evaluation is the first step towards deciding on retinol regimen.

Retinol, would be best suited when introduced in the bedtime regimen, as most of the healing and reparative action of the skin happens at that time. That is also a time of the day, when one is not exposed to other harmful effects of the environment such as sun damage, dust, pollution, heat/cold waves etc. etc.