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Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is the closest thing we have to a skin care miracle: It can boost collagen production, improve the appearance of sun damage, fine lines, acne, scars and dark spots. Perhaps for this reason it is also shrouded in some mind-boggling mythology. One of the most oft-repeated distortions is that retinol products can only be worn at night. But, in recent times, the transformative ingredient has found its way into daytime-ready creams. What gives? We tapped the founders of three leading skin care brands—Drunk Elephant, Verso and Dr. Dennis Gross—to explain the new wave of retinol wonders. They allow you to super-charge your morning routine, and do less at night. Just remember to pair these game-changers with SPF.
This month you debut A-Passioni Retinol Cream. Why did you decide to add it your line up?“Because I listen to my gut and to my consumer … and my mother. Everyone wants retinol in their lives and it’s the one ingredient every dermatologist says you need. I did take time to educate myself before I developed this product and I learned that many of the myths surrounding retinol were surprisingly not true. It can be used with Vitamin C during the day under sunscreen. It can be used alongside AHA/BHA exfoliants. In fact, these types of acids actually help improve the penetration of retinol when used together. Also, retinol is not an exfoliant and peeling and redness don’t need to be a part of the picture. If they are, it’s a sign your skin hasn’t built up a tolerance and it can be pushed through. Retinol was the only derivative of vitamin A I wanted to use in my formulation. While it is gentler than the prescriptive retinoic acid, it does exactly the same thing biochemically, taking just a little longer to deliver the results. Retinoic acid, which is what retinol becomes once in the skin, has the ability to connect with the cells and teach them to behave better and act younger. For this reason, it is an incredible ingredient for a myriad of issues from acne to ageing skin and all that’s in between.”
What is it about A-Passioni that makes it safe for daytime wear? “Retinol is safe to use during the day, it’s a myth that it’s not. As long as you are diligent about wearing SPF, retinol, combined with Vitamin C and worn underneath broad-spectrum sunscreen, helps defend skin against environmental damage. Retinoids do not increase the risk of sunburn either, as we’ve long been told, and they boost collagen production, even slowing down the production of collagenase, the enzyme that breaks it (collagen) down in skin. Also, vitamin C actually helps retinol stay stable and last longer. And retinol does the same thing for vitamin C—it’s a very healthy relationship. Our vitamin C has enzymes in it to help clear the path for enhanced absorption of the retinol."
Is your form of retinol encapsulated? Many of the new products appear to follow that approach.“A-Passioni uses an encapsulated, controlled-release form of vegan retinol. That allows for maximum stability and a slow release to skin, which gives you results without the kickback traditionally associated with high-strength retinols.”
Do the additional superfood ingredients make it less irritating?“The supporting players in A-Passioni are much more than anti-irritants. Research demonstrates that retinol can be used during the day, and that pairing it with vitamin C improves the effectiveness of a sunscreen when worn underneath. We wanted to stack the deck by adding superfood antioxidants that offer free-radical protection for skin, including potent defence against UV-generated free radicals and blue light from electronic devices.”
Many of your products, including Verso Day Cream, use Retinol 8, a stabilised Vitamin A complex. What makes it appropriate for daywear?“First, it’s a misconception that retinoids increase the risk of sunburn. In some early studies, people described putting on a retinoid, walking into the sun, and immediately burning. But that redness is likely related to heat exposure. Retinol 8 is a stabilised vitamin A derivative and is effective in very low concentration. Verso Day Cream has a concentration of 0.06% as an example.”
Beyond convenience, what is the benefit of using retinol products during the day?“The general benefits of using vitamin A are so great that each individual needs to discover the best way to use it, whether it’s day, night or both. Our Retinol 8 complex is eight times as effective as traditional retinol and half as irritative. Retinol 8 stimulates collagen production, thereby reducing the signs of ageing. Retinol 8 targets your skin’s most vital needs, considerably improving its quality and texture while keeping your daily routine simple.”
Is it advisable to use your retinol-fuelled day and night creams in tandem? Is that too much retinol? “Yes, they work great together and no it’s not too much retinol. We use the same concentration of Retinol 8 in both our day and night cream (0.06%). Verso Day Cream is formulated with niacinamide to repair and enhance the skin barrier, and anti-inflammatory turmeric to prevent premature ageing. Verso Night Cream also has oat extracts for calming and resting the skin at night.”
What is it about your Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer (and accompanying products) that makes it safe for daytime wear?“Our Ferulic and Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer is formulated with both retinol and ferulic acid. The combination helps both ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively, while releasing active ingredients quickly and evenly. The ferulic acid makes retinol more moisturising, more powerful, and less irritating. Combining retinol with ferulic acid also drastically reduces sun sensitivity, which is why the majority of the Ferulic Acid + Retinol line can be worn during daytime (as well as at night).”
We’ve long been told to avoid retinol products for day. What changed?“Retinol causes skin to become more sensitive to light, which is why some experts advise to wear retinol at night, although it is perfectly fine to wear retinol during the day—just be sure to wear SPF. The addition of ferulic acid with retinol further decreases skin’s sensitivity to sun, which allows it to be worn during the day. In older retinol products, the sun could potentially breakdown retinol—this is no longer the case with newer formulations. We use an encapsulated retinol.”
What is the benefit of wearing retinol day and night? Is there such a thing as too much retinol?“Using retinol both day and night will give you faster results, especially if you are looking to lighten dark spots. As I mentioned above, just be sure to wear sunscreen during the day. It is possible to overdo retinol, but really only if you are using a prescription retinol.”
Interviews by George EpaminondasJanuary 2019
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