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Retinol Can Turn Back Time

Retinol Can Turn Back Time

Are fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts, oily skin, or uneven texture a problem?

Are they becoming more difficult to treat over time?

And no matter what skincare you use, you’re not getting the desired results?

The reality is, you can’t wait forever to get results; this is where Retinol comes in.

It has a stellar rep as a wrinkle-fighter, diminishing lines over time and promoting collagen production.

TBH, smoothing lines and wrinkles only scratches the surface of what Retinol can do for your skin.

First things first. The benefits 

The first thing you need to do is adjust your approach to your products.

Stop looking for the next “holy grail” skincare cream and turn your attention to ingredients instead.

Retinol is wondrous for many skin frustrations, from acne to ageing.

A chemical compound related to Vitamin A deserves of taking centre stage in your skincare kit – especially if you have been battling with any of the following concerns:

  • acne
  • pigmentation
  • skin firmness
  • rough texture
  • excessive oiliness
  • inflamed breakouts
  • fine lines and wrinkles
  • skin roughness and dullness
  • pigmentation from age spots

With such a long list of conditions that benefit from this treatment, it sounds like an A-list product for celebrities, but whilst you’ve no doubt heard of it, using it can be another story.

So, join us as we cut the confusion for this article and impart our Retinol wisdom to you.

Why is it the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Skincare World?

Great question! We’re glad you asked. Retinol, a topical derivative of Vitamin A, is the most researched anti-ageing ingredient globally.

To understand how it works, we first need to get a little technical and understand collagen, the major structural protein in our body.

We liken it to internal scaffolding – without collagen, there would be nothing to hold the cells together.

When you are young, collagen is produced by your body, but your collagen synthesis slows down as you age.

Environmental factors such as UV exposure, diet, stress, and smoking break down the collagen fibres, and your skin begins to rough, uneven, saggy, and wrinkly.

For Retinol to become active, it must first convert to Tretinoin. Enzymes do this in the skin, where they can work in several ways to improve skin health:

  1. First, it increases the amount of collagen in your skin by inactivating Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs), the proteins in the skin that break down collagen. These are also made more active by UV rays.
  2. Next, it increases cellular turnover – that is, it increases the rate at which new skin cells replace old ones.
  3. Finally, Retinol is also an antioxidant; it blocks reactive free radicals generated by UV exposure or toxins in the environment, wreaking havoc on your skin.

So What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a retinoid used in over-the-counter skincare products rather than prescription medications. Although Retinol is super effective, it’s different molecularly from prescription retinoids.

The big difference between Retinol and retinoid—specifically, prescription retinoid—is strength. “Retinols contain a lower concentration of the active retinoic acid ingredient, which is excellent for most of us in terms of tolerating it because it works more gradually.

Retinol on ingredient labels comes under a few guises retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, retinyl linoleate, Retinaldehyde, and propionic acid.

These ester forms take more steps to be converted to the active retinoic acid. The more conversions, the weaker the product.”

Retinyl palmitate, for instance, is an ester form of Vitamin A that has been considered a milder, though still very active, form of Vitamin A that is easily tolerated by your skin.

Retinyl palmitate is converted to Retinol and Retinoic acid once it has entered the cell, which accounts for most of its effects.

The molecule’s palmitate moiety has a vital role; it’s a high-energy molecule that is highly desirable to cells, which absorb it from the interstitial fluid into the intracellular compartment.

The energy from palmitate converts Vitamin A into the various isomers of Retinoic acid. More than 80% of the Vitamin A typically found in the skin is in Retinyl Palmitate. Our anti-ageing Immortelle is a retinol cream.

Effects of Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Acetate

Cell walls are not easy to penetrate; mechanisms have to exist to facilitate the transfer of chemicals from outside the cell wall, through the membrane, and into the cell itself.

We have discovered tiny secret passageways through the cell wall for various chemicals – only those with a required ‘password’, or shape, may enter any particular passage.

There are places on a keratinocyte cell wall where Vitamin A, in the form of Retinyl Palmitate, Acetate, or Retinoic Acid, can enter the cell. These are called retinoid surface receptors.

How Retinol Works on Your Skin

The most popular form of non-prescription is Vitamin A.

Retinol is converted into potent Retinoic Acid inside the keratinocytes, the cells responsible for a solid physical barrier on the skin.

Retinol is less irritating to the skin than Retinoic Acid. It is found naturally in shallow doses within our tissues, and when higher doses are taken up by the skin cells, the cell membranes may become damaged.

This may explain why Retinol often causes mild peeling of the skin when first used. As the surfaces of the cell walls develop more retinoid receptors, the irritation disappears.

Retinol is otherwise just another form of Vitamin A and will produce the same results if used in the exact dosage as Retinyl Palmitate or Acetate.

Retinol is two metabolic steps away from being Retinoic Acid – this is one of the falsities that has deceived many formulators and clinicians into believing that it will deliver Retinoic Acid more efficiently than Retinyl Palmitate.

What is overlooked is that Retinol is only one metabolic step away from Retinyl Palmitate. That is the preferred metabolic route for Retinol applied to the skin – this is why we use Retinyl Palmitate in the Naked Chemist formulations.

Topically applied Retinol is almost completely converted into Retinyl Palmitate, and only a tiny fraction remains as Retinol that can be metabolised to Retinaldehyde and then to Retinoic Acid.

But we hear you; why use Retinol if it is converted into Retinyl Palmitate?

One reason is that various isomers of Vitamin A are essential to impart the full effects. By supplying it in its multiple forms, you can increase the chances of getting widespread Retinoic Acid isomers. The skin cells make different shapes of Retinoic Acid naturally.

Retinol Versus Retinoid

Retinoid is a term for over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinoids.

Retinoids cover all vitamin A derivatives converted into retinoic acid in personal care products.

Many of them are applied topically, but some—such as Accutane—are oral meds.

Retinol should not be confused with its fast-acting cousin that requires a prescription.

That one is pure Retinoic Acid — Retinol’s sister, which works much more effectively, but it’s not without side effects, such as flaky skin and inflammation.

The most powerful is available by prescription only, with one exception: Differin (adapalene), a potent and well-tolerated acne treatment; it is the only prescription-strength retinoid to be sold over the counter.

Retinoic Acid

This is Retinol’referred to as Tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova, and others. It is the most potent form of Vitamin A, working on the cell’s DNA. A doctor’s prescription is required as it has potential side effects like flaky skin or redness.


This is an intermediate form of Vitamin A, one step away from Retinoic acid. Retinol is oxidised into Retinaldehyde, which is further oxidised into Retinoic acid.

Why is Retinol more Effective than Vitamin C or Salicylic Acid?

These ingredients bring lovely things to the skin, but Retinol has more research behind it, and we have seen some great retinol before and after results in our clinic.

Retinol works deep below the surface in the dermis to encourage cellular turnover and reveal youthful, bright skin; unlike Vitamin C and Salicylic Acid — which slough off dead cells that build up over time — Retinol promotes cellular repair on a deeper, microscopic scale.

As discussed above, it is a true multi-tasker with excellent skin benefits.

How do I Get Started?

Using Retinol at night is the best option, and then build up slowly — start with a couple of nights a week.

Some can tolerate it every night; those with more sensitive skin may only be able to take it every other night or even less.

To maximise results, long-term use is best. It takes about six to eight weeks for your skin to turn over because although Retinol will speed up the process, it will still take several weeks to see results.

Begin by introducing our A+ Retinol Complex into your evening routine. At 1.0%, you should start seeing great results within weeks with our retinol serum; initially use intermittently, incorporating your product into your routine slowly.

Vitamin A products are cosmeceuticals and can be active, mainly if your skin is not used to them, which is why we recommend building this formula into your routine over time.

We have specifically formulated our A+ Retinol Complex to be more gentle on your skin.

The Naked Truth

So, how do you avoid the “uglies” “and other potential side effects?

To mitigate the side effects that may build-up, use Retinol slowly to give your skin time to acclimate. Always wear sunscreen, as Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Retinyl palmitate is the most gentle form of Vitamin A; it helps those with sensitivity to Retinol build up a tolerance.

Use at the opposite end of the day Vitamin C. You don’t want to use too many actives on the skin at once — keep your routine simple.

Generally, it is best not to layer too many products using a Retinoid. It can reduce how well the products work and cause chemical burns.

Therefore, it is essential to avoid chemical peels while using Retinol, especially if you have sensitive, delicate skin.

Bottom line? If in doubt, stop immediately, and then re-introduce slowly.

Don’t overstimulate your skin with too many actives like Vitamin C, Niacinamide, or Alpha/Beta Hydroxy acids — this is about listening to your skin and treating it with respect.


So, we have established that Retinol is a topical derivative of Vitamin A and is the most researched anti-ageing ingredient globally.

It increases the amount of collagen in your skin by inactivating matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), the enzymes in the skin which break down collagen.

It increases cellular turnover and is a potent antioxidant, blocking the free radicals generated by UV exposure or toxins in the environment, leading to premature ageing.

There are lots of derivatives of Vitamin A. Still, the one with a natural affinity with your skin is Retinyl palmitate, a mild yet still, very active form tolerated by your skin.

It is a high-energy molecule that is highly desirable to cells, and more than 80% of the Vitamin A typically found in the skin is in the form of Retinyl Palmitate.

Retinoic acid goes by Tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova and is only available by prescription. Yes, its role on the skin is powerful, but it also has some harmful side effects, so use caution.

Retinol is, the form of Retinyl Palmitate, is the number one ingredient for warding off premature ageing, with more research around it than any other ingredient.

Working deep into your skin reveals youthful, bright skin, promoting cellular repair on a deeper microscopic level; it is also an excellent multi-tasker that will benefit your skin.

If you have more questions about this fascinating ingredient, then leave a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Retinol Can Turn Back Time

  1. Ana says:

    What is your opinion about natural alternatives to retinol? (For example, Eminence product such as Bamboo firming fluid.) I have sensitive eczema-prone skin but at 57 I’m definitely needing something more.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Ana
      I don’t use these products so can not recommend them. retinol is the most researched ingredient there re4ally is no comparison. if you have sensitive skin that is fine just use low strength and build up over time as your skin re densifies. Samantha

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