Retinol

What is Retinol?
Retinol is one of several Vitamin A derivatives commonly used in skincare. Several isomers (simply, versions) of Retinol exist, each with a different chemical property inherent in its physical structure. Fun fact! The isomerization (change of chemical geometry) of the 11-cis Vitamin A chromophore to all-trans is essential to vision. But this chemical nomenclature is already nerdy enough, we won’t go into that biochemical mechanism here. Needless to say, Retinol and its Vitamin A cousins are no stranger to the body’s biochemical environment. By itself, Retinol is a beautiful yellow-orange crystal, soluble in oil.

How does Retinol work on the skin?
While more skincare-specific research needs to be done, it’s generally understood that Retinol works on the skin’s surface as a fat-soluble topical antioxidant: the conjugated hydrocarbon chain absorbs free radicals that would otherwise disable healthy skin cells via oxidative stress. One more time, with less science: when the skin is exposed to free radicals (from any number of sources), Retinol takes the hit for skin cell fat molecules, reducing the destruction of cell membranes. Or, Retinol absorbs free radicals so that healthy cells don’t die before they otherwise would.

Retinol is thought to be an effective anti-acne agent by chemically promoting desquamation, the shedding of dead skin cells, thus preventing those dead cells from clogging pores, reducing the chance of future outbreaks. It’s also lauded as an anti-aging ingredient through its ability to encourage the healthy growth of new cells, whose growth may help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. When it’s used in a leave-on lotion or face cream (we use it in the Repairing Night Cream), Retinol can help reduce clogged pores and the look of wrinkles.

Retinol may even help reduce the look of acne scars by restoring the normal inflammatory repair work that topical corticosteroids may have inhibited. Retinol may also help with acne by enhancing the chemical activity of other anti-acne topical active ingredients. Other vitamin A derivatives include tretinoin, which some claim is more effective as a topical agent than retinol. The jury is still out on this definitive statement. 

What is Retinol doing in my Repairing Night Cream?
Generally speaking, correct use of Retinol in topical products is found in to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while increasing the growth rate of healthy cells. The exact mechanisms by which this occurs and in which conditions it occurs most effectively are yet to be exhaustively investigated. Studies, however, do point it it’s safe yet effective topical activity, making it a perfect Geologie ingredient.

In the Geologie Repairing Night Cream, Retinol works all night to supercharge the skin’s natural restorative processes.


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