• Hayley Mountjoy

Who Is The Fairest Of Them All?

Retinol. Most of us have heard of it, some of us may have tried it but how many of us actually know what is it and how it works? Beauty editors everywhere love talking about this super ingredient and when scientists recently revealed it was the only ingredient proven to reverse the signs of ageing, retinol gained a cult following. It can also be used to treat pigmentation and acne scarring but more on that a bit later. To properly understand how retinol works, I want to talk about skin ageing. Did you know from the age of 25 your skin is classed as 'mature'? If you didn't feel old before, I bet you do now!


Essentially, there are 2 factors that affect how our skin ages. The first are intrinsic factors, such as the natural ageing process. This is largely determined by genetics. These things are out of our control. The second are extrinsic factors, such as our lifestyle habits (smoking, drinking etc) and our environment (sun exposure, pollution etc). These are things we can control. A combination of these intrinsic and extrinsic factors trigger specific biochemical reactions in the skin which lead to ageing. This manifests as wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation and dehydration.




In our 20's, environmental damage and constant exposure to damaging UV rays begin to take their toll on skin. Free radicals attack the skin’s structural integrity. Cell renewal and turnover rates begin to slow and reduce. However, we don't always notice physical signs of damage at this age so assume none is being done.

In our 30's, collagen and elastin fibroblasts breakdown, resulting in our first wrinkles. Cell renewal and turnover continue to decline, leading to a duller complexion and uneven skin tone.

In our 40's, the skin is thinner, barrier lipids are not as pronounced and dehydration can be an issue. More prominent signs of skin ageing may also appear, such as dark spots and a significantly duller complexion.

In our 50's +, our protective barrier lipid layer lessens, leading to increased dehydration and more potential for sensitivity. Skin shows wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation.


Still with me?! If you read my previous blog you will know I'm a sucker for the science! So now we have an understanding of how our skin ages, lets get back to what effect retinol has on this process.


Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is part of a group of ingredients called retinoids.

Retinol works with our skins natural collagen in 2 ways;

1) it increases our production of collagen fibroblasts

2) it decreases the break down of our natural collagen by inhibiting one of the biochemical reactions caused by UV exposure.

As it strengthens the fibroblasts in the dermis (check out the skin cross section further up), this helps lines and wrinkles on the surface skin appear much smoother.

In addition to increasing collagen production, retinol speeds up cell renewal which can have a peeling effect on the skin, meaning this product can also be used to treat pigmentation and acne scarring with fantastic results!


However, not all retinol products are made the same. How effective it is depends on the strength of the retinol and how the product delivers the retinol to the skin. Overnight Retinol Repair contains 0.5% retinol. Which doesn't sound like much. But trust me on this, when it comes to retinol less, is definitely more. Once your skin is acclimatised, you can upgrade to 1%. Dermalogica use microencapsulated retinol, which means we are able to deliver a more potent retinol at a lower %, which has a controlled release delivery and it doesn't lose concentration. Retinols that aren't microencapsulated are unstable, meaning they lose concentration before they have a chance to penetrate the skin. Rendering them totally ineffective.




So how can we fit this wonder product in to our skin routine?!

Overnight Retinol Repair is designed to be used at night, after cleansing and toning before your moisturiser. Its important to acclimatise your skin to the retinol to avoid irritation by gradually decreasing the amount of buffer cream. This can vary from person to person depending on the individual tolerance levels so I recommend getting advice from a qualified Dermalogica skin therapist before you start using this product.

Its really important that this product is only used at night because the sun light will affect the retinol and its efficacy will be compromised.

Of course, it goes without saying that you must always wear SPF during the day (yes, even when its cloudy!) Obviously, UV damage is completely counter-productive when we are trying to reverse the biochemical effects on our collagen!


There are a few points to remember when using this product:

  • Do not use 72 hours before or after waxing or exfoliation

  • Avoid the eyes

  • Consult your doctor before use if pregnant or breast feeding

  • Use active creams/serums in the morning, do not layer with Overnight Retinol Repair

  • Not suitable for use while taking Accutane medication


The secret to eternal youth is out!



I have samples in salon, please ask if you would like try it!

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