There are few products in the skincare world more talked about than retinol. And yet, most men still aren’t using it. Or at least, they aren’t discussing it. Take Paul Rudd as a case study: The guy hasn’t aged a day past 39, and although he has yet to drop his skincare secrets, dermatologists agree his lack of wrinkles is likely a direct result of retinoids. Retin-whats? Keep reading.
Retinol, a popular anti-aging skincare ingredient, is a type of retinoid made of vitamin A. The main difference: retinoids are more potent and must be prescribed by a dermatologist; retinol is found in over-the-counter skincare products. Both target hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles, aka the most visible signs of aging. Most dermatologists recommend starting a retinol/retinoid regimen by age 30, if not sooner, because the proteins that keep your skin plump and youthful start breaking down by the time you hit the big 3-0. Moral of the story: If you’re not using retinol yet and want to keep some semblance of youth, you need to add it to your routine, stat.
We talked to plastic surgeon and founder of FormRX skincare, Dr. P Daniel Ward to answer all the “do I really need this?” questions.
How Does Retinol Work?
A pea-sized amount of retinol is typically applied in cream form. It sinks into the middle layer of skin to neutralize external factors that speed up the aging process (UV rays, pollution, stress, etc.) and helps boost the production of collagen and elastin, which decline at a rate of about one percent after the age of 30 (1).
It also helps to regenerate skin cells, sloughing off old ones and allowing new, more youthful cells to grow in their place. This helps smooth uneven texture and generally gives you that A-list, Paul doesn’t-age Rudd glow.
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Why Should Men Use Retinol?
Women have long-known retinol for its youth-preserving abilities, but it’s just as beneficial for men. “Genetically, men have the same propensity as women to develop hyperpigmentation,” says Dr. Ward. He also notes that there’s a higher percentage of men who work outside (and probably don’t wear sunscreen), making their risks for hyperpigmentation even worse. “Retinol can be great at slowing down the aging process.”
“There are differences between male and female skin, but as with women patients, I recommend men to start slow, with a light dose every few days,” says Ward. He recommends that retinol be diluted with moisturizer to help spread out the effects and minimize negative side effects, such as dryness and irritation.
How Often Should Men Use Retinol?
“Ideally, you will be using retinol daily,” says Ward. “However, it may take three to six months to build up to daily use. I typically tell people to start with a diluted dose of retinol every three to four days and then shorten that window every other week until your skin can handle it daily without irritation,” he adds.
This is advice you want to stick to closely. If you dive right into an everyday retinol regimen, your skin with freak out with dryness and irritation. Starting slow is the key to its success. We repeat: start s l o w.
When Will You Notice the Effects?
Effects won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with a solid regimen, you’ll usually see real changes in a few months. That said, side effects may present themselves within one or two weeks. So heed Ward’s advice and go slow to start, building up to daily use over time.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN
What Skincare Products Should You Use in Tandem With Retinol?
According to Ward, retinol should always be used within a whole skincare routine. He recommends a cleanser, toner, hyaluronic acid serum, and moisturizer to “counteract the side effects that can occur from retinol.”
What Products Should You Stay Away From When Using Retinol?
Avoid “anything that can dry the skin or sensitize the skin further,” advises Ward. That means no acids (like lactic, salicylic, or glycolic), except for hyaluruonic acid, which draws in moisture. Make sure to check the label if you’ve already got a system going.