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What Age Should I Start Using Retinoids?

15 Mar 2022

Think of retinal like your 401K—better to start today than tomorrow.

It’s always going to be tricky to crown a single ingredient as the must-have, does-it-all, omnipotent power in your skincare regimen. But, if any is to be ordained as such, it’s reasonable to argue that retinoids are that one thing. 

The all-encompassing umbrella term for vitamin A compounds, retinoids are skincare’s answer to fashion’s little black dress, and makeup’s red lipstick–which is shorthand for saying there’s a style and shade out there for everyone, irrespective of your age, or any other defining personal feature. 

“Retinoids are the thing to reach for if you’re looking to help with your skin’s overall health and appearance, whatever your skincare goal or age bracket,” explains Laura Cline, Youth To The People’s Senior Director of Product Development + Education. “If you start using them before you hit your 20s you might use them with less frequency as someone in their 40s, but it’s certainly not going to hurt.”

In fact, incorporating retinoids sooner than later can act as an insurance policy–a sort of 401K payment plan to protect your future skin from uneven skin tone, clogged pores, and visible signs of aging. 

“Retinoids come in a few forms,” says Cline. “There are prescriptions which are pure retinoic acid and are medically prescribed drugs, and then there are lower strength, cosmetic-use retinoids which can be used by anyone looking to achieve real results without a lot of side effects, or a doctor’s signature.”

At-home retinoids to look out for include retinol (which is the most common), and retinal—with an A. Sometimes referred to retinaldehyde, retinal is the latest innovation in its category, promising greater potency and faster results than retinol, without a lot of the aforementioned unpleasant side-effects associated with prescription-strength retinoids–like redness, severe dryness, itchiness, flaking, and peeling.

“Retinal is one of those ingredients that you can start using and right away see a difference,” says Cline, adding that because it works quickly to encourage skin turnover and make space for healthy looking and feeling skin, it’s equally adept at helping those who experience congestion by unclogging pores as it is those aiming for  bouncy, firmer looking skin. It’s why YTTP formulated with retinal in the brand new Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum.

If you’re new to retinoids as a whole, Cline encourages starting out gradually with retinal, giving your skin time to gradually acclimate before amping up the cadence to maximize results. It is best avoided for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and others with concerns should consult their physician. 

“Begin using the Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum once a week in the evening, then twice a week, and eventually build it up daily if it feels right for your skin,” she says. “It’s likely you’ll experience an overall boost in radiance instantly, but to hit your bigger skincare goals, you’ll need to wait at least one full cell turnover cycle, which is typically around 28 days for most adults.”

Written by Elsa de Berker for Youth To The People

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