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The Alchemy Guide to Retinol

By Zoe Greenwood on November 7, 2021

Do you know it is estimated that 95% of women do not get enough Vitamin A?
Vitamin A is essential for normal skin cell development and differentiation. It inhibits collagen breakdown, increases collagen synthesis, increases elasticity, improves water barrier function, is anti-inflammatory, regulates sebum production (making it an excellent choice for treating acne as well as ageing) and is the only ingredient we know of that actually reverses the signs of photo-ageing.

Vitamin A is found in the following foods:

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dried apricots
  • Kale
  • Cantaloupe
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Red peppers

To name a few!

But even eating these cannot always provide the amount you need for optimum skincare.


You can also consider supplementing with Skin Complete which is a Vitamin A and Antioxidant due from The Advanced nutrition programme, adequate internal absorption works on those deepest layers of the skin and has also been shown to improve the skins tolerance to topical retinol.

This is where Retinol comes into it’s own.

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A which can be used topically to treat the following concerns:

  • Acne and breakout prone skin.
  • Ageing skin, fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Dull skin
  • Pigmentation

It’s no secret that as the years go on, we age. Retinol will become your new best friend and the greatest weapon against wrinkles and the ravages of time. This pure, topical form of Vitamin A helps increase skin’s thickness and collagen production, firming and refining the complexion and restoring its vibrancy – a literal fountain of youth.

Basically, as we age, the epidermis thickens while the dermis thins. The use of retinoids inverts that aging process, so long-term retinoid users enjoy an epidermis with less age spots and wrinkles supported by a lovely thick dermis.

Early retinol usage also helps delay the aging process, so the best time to start using a retinol is in your early thirties, when your cell turnover rate begins to slow. One of the benefits of getting an early start on over-the-counter retinols is that you can hold off on prescription retinoids until your forties or fifties.

So, grab yourself a cup of tea and let me tell you all about Retinol…

Myth Buster

Some people fear Retinol and believe that their skin is too sensitive for it, some have tried them and discontinued them due to a reaction, and others fear that retinoids are not natural and should be avoided.

The truth is that retinoids are the common denominator of skin care—although everyone’s skin is different, almost every type of skin can benefit from them. Of course, a crucial exception applies to those who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, nursing or those using medication that contraindicates use.

A few symptoms common to the beginning stages of retinoid use might explain why many people either fear to try them or discontinue their use before they’ve had the opportunity to revel in the improvements.

Retinoids can initially cause peeling and some redness, a process called facial Retinisation. Users should be aware that this is normal and to be expected — peeling and redness are side effects of retinoids working at a profound level to influence gene expression, resulting eventually in enhanced collagen production, skin smoothing and the evening out of pigmentation.

When people experience such symptoms, they often make the mistake of stopping their treatment program, then waiting until the skin gets “better” before beginning again. This is why it is so important to work with a skin specialist who can guide and support you along the way to help you maximise therapeutic benefits of the wonderful ingredient that is retinol.

So how can you get your maximum dose of age-fighting retinol without traumatizing your skin?

The Golden Rules of Retinol

  1. Consult a professional
    There are some cases where we avoid recommending retinol (when your barrier is seriously impaired, if you struggle with rosacea or with certain conditions such as pregnancy) If you want to add retinol into your routine, you’ll need specific guidance on where to fit it in and how to get the best out of it for YOUR skin
  2. Set up a routine
    Begin by using your retinoid every other or every third night and work up to every night but be consistent
  3. Prepare your skin
    You may need to work on barrier function before beginning topical retinol therapy and studies show that continuing use of a barrier-enhancing cosmetic moisturiser during therapy improves the longer-term results.
  4. Further preparation and enhancement
    Consider taking a Vitamin A supplement, studies have shown that the skin of someone consuming higher levels of Vitamin A are more likely to tolerate the application of retinol far more easily, this will lead to quicker results.
  5. Avoid usage during the day
    Contrary to popular belief, retinoids do not contribute to photosensitivity, but retinoic acid can thin the outer layers of the skin by about a third, making the skin more susceptible to sunburn. However, I suggest confining your usage to night-time. Retinoids degrade in the light, so you’re not getting your money’s worth if you use them during the day. In short: use retinoids at night only, use sunscreen daily, and try to avoid excessive heat, from either the sun or sauna.
  6. Wear SPF. Always
    As you’ll now know from the above retinols should be left to the evening and I hope that anyone that considers themselves savvy about skincare is wearing a broad spectrum mineral based SPF 365 days of the year (Yes come rain or shine; we are protecting against UV not just the sun itself!) but it is exceptionally important to use an SPF daily when including a retinol in your routine, after all there is no point in attempting to correct your skin concerns when you’re not protecting it from further damage.
  7. Be patient
    This is not an overnight process for anyone, and depending on the type of retinoid you use, the condition you are treating and the condition of your skin, it could take six to eight weeks before you start to see significant changes.
  8. Order of application?
    The dermatologists answer is nothing to do with application decides how much of the retinol is converted into retinoic acid, the form of vitamin A that actually repairs skin. That's solely related to your skin's chemistry and retinoid receptors. So, the order of application can vary depending on what we are trying to achieve, generally if your skin is sensitised then we may suggest applying over your mioisturiser to buffer the absorption, otherwise we would say to make it the first serum you apply.
    What matters is that you follow educated guidance and find the type of retinoid that best suits you, make it a part of your skin care routine, and be consistent in its use. You’ll be very happy you made the effort.
  9. Waxing and Retinol use
    Specialising in waxing and skincare puts me in a good position to warn you about the use of retinol when you also choose to wax: Whilst Retinols are beneficial for your skin it does mean we need to be more mindful when waxing your brows or other facial areas. Normally when we wax, we remove some very superficial skin cells on the surface, if you are using retinol the chances are that these superficial skin cells aren’t present which means that your wax could cause grazing on your skin. I take steps to ensure we minimise the chance of grazing, I use mineral powder to barrier your skin prior to use and I work in small sections, I also use hot was as opposed to strip wax where needed. It’s really important that you make me aware if you have recently started using a retinol product that I am unaware of so that we can make an informed decision when It comes to hair removal. If you have introduced retinol and you have a wax booked, I would suggest discontinuing use for 7 days prior to be on the safe side.

Alumier Retinol:

When first starting to use retinol, I would always recommend using Alumier - starting on 0.25%, and over time you can move up to 0.5% and finally 1%.
Retinol Resurfacing Serum is a pure potent retinol serum that dramatically improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, and skin texture, while evening skin tone.
Cutting-edge microencapsulated retinol allows for gradual timed-release overnight. By encapsulating the retinol and adding soothing and hydrating ingredients like niacinamide, honey, and sodium hyaluronate, maximal results can be achieved in comfort.
To order your Retinol and begin your journey to younger-looking skin, follow the link and use the details below:

Experience Alumnier Retinol

Article written by Zoe Greenwood

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