Retinol: Everything You Need to Know

And Why You Need to Being Using It If You Aren’t Already

Retinol—it’s the most effective over-the-counter ingredient in cosmetic dermatology. This isn’t just our opinion. In fact, retinol’s incredibly multitasking benefits for both aging and acne concerns are evidenced by substantial scientific research. Really, what’s not to love about it?

Maybe you’ve heard of retinol, or maybe you’re already using a retinol product in your routine. Regardless, we hope after reading this you 1). have a better understanding of retinol and its benefits, and 2). are convinced that you need to incorporate a retinol product into your regimen, no matter your age.

So, let’s go ahead and get down to it!

What is Retinol?

Retinol falls under the umbrella of “retinoids.” Retinoids are the family of Vitamin A, which occur in our bodies naturally, and can be divided into two different categories: non-prescriptive and prescriptive. The non-prescriptive and most familiar form, retinol, is the purest form of Vitamin A that can be purchased over-the-counter. The prescription-strength retinoid—Tretinoin (retinoic acid)—is most commonly distributed by dermatologists.

Retinol, when applied to the skin, is converted into retinoic acid. Keep in mind, Tretinoin is retinoic acid. This means retinol requires just one additional conversion step, whereas other retinol derivatives, like retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate, have to work considerably harder in the skin and yet, are still nowhere near as effective as retinol. Be aware these cheaper derivatives are often used in many department store brand products, despite the claims. Just check your labels carefully so you know exactly what you’re investing in!

Understanding the Benefits

What exactly makes retinol so incredible? Retinol stimulates collagen production and accelerates skin cell turnover for those coveted skin rejuvenation results. It helps smooth fine lines & wrinkles, it plumps and firms skin (which naturally loses elasticity over time through the process of maturing), it evens skin tone and texture, and it boosts the skin’s radiance. Most importantly, it helps maintain a healthy skin barrier for sustainable and consistent results.

You might also be surprised to learn that while many people assume your skin becomes immune to retinol’s efficacy (like a lot of other skincare products), the truth is, your results will actually continue to improve over time.

7 Ways MD Complete Retinol Is Better

In separate clinical studies, MD Complete out-beat Clinique and matched the results of the #1 dermatologist-prescribed system, Obagi. We even have the data to prove it—and it’s published right here on our website.

So, what exactly makes MD Complete retinol better than the rest? We’re here to expound upon the 7 ways we’re set apart!

1. Pure Retinol

Ingredient labels can be confusing and somewhat complicated. Many skincare brands use derivatives of retinol, which are not only cheaper versions, but they’re also substantially less effective. While it may appear on the label that the product contains retinol, it would actually just be a manipulated variant. MD Complete uses pure retinol, like in Retinol Vitamin C Concentrate which is absorbed much more quickly into the skin, delivering incredible skin rejuvenation results.

2. Higher Levels

Many department store serums are expensive, and retail for upwards of $150 (if not more). However, MD Complete uses levels of retinol that are, in fact, 10-20 times higher than traditional department store products. While we often assume a luxury product requires a higher price tag for a unparalleled efficacy, this is simply just not the case. Retinol is dose responsive, so higher levels of retinol maximize results.

3. Accelerated Results

Over the past 10 years, we’ve worked rigorously and tirelessly to perfect our ingredient combination and delivery system. We believe our clients deserve their best results, so we combine retinol with a mix of naturally-derived phytonutrients and vitamins. Because retinol’s capabilities are limited as a single ingredient, we’ve furthered improved its capacity by combining it with specific ingredients that are clinically proven to work synergistically with retinol.

4. Encapsulation Technology

Our innovative technology encapsulates retinol to improve how it’s absorbed into the skin to eliminate the irritation commonly associated with dermatologist retinol levels. What does this mean for you? You’re getting the same levels of retinol used in dermatology without the negative side effects.

5. Moisturizing

It’s no secret MD Complete products are uniquely hydrating. In fact, clients are often genuinely surprised they don’t even need a moisturizer with our treatment products. Even with the inclusion of pure retinol and other highly concentrated ingredients, these products simultaneously hydrate and restore the skin barrier while providing multitasking benefits.

6. Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Our attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the process, from the sourcing of our ingredients to the delivery of the package onto the client’s doorstep. Our manufacturing is no different. We formulate our products in ‘clean room’ environments, much like pharmaceutical products, under argon and nitrogen blankets that prevent any exposure to oxygen and other contaminants. Retinol is highly reactive (which is part of the reason why it works so well in the skin) and quickly breaks down if it’s exposed to oxygen or other external factors.

7. Clinical Evidence

Wrinkle & Radiance Remedy, our core treatment product, is formulated with high levels of retinol and has proven in clinical testing to be as effective as prescriptive retinoids. So, while many brands may claim their retinol is better, the only way to truly know is to benchmark the results versus prescriptive retinoids, something these brands would never even dare to attempt.

8 Retinol Myths Disproved

1. Retinol shouldn’t be applied in the morning.

Because retinol breaks down when it’s exposed to light, it’s generally assumed you should only apply it at night. But, when formulated with high-quality ingredients, a retinol serum, like Retinol Vitamin C Concentrate, is quickly absorbed into the skin (usually within 15 minutes) before you ever even leave the house. Contrary to popular belief, you can and should absolutely use a retinol in the morning. Implementing it into your routine twice daily will only improve and accelerate your results.

2. Retinol thins your skin.

This is far from the truth. Retinol does quite the opposite. Actually, it’s been proven to increase the thickness of the epidermis by as much as 50% and supports the skin’s own production of hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. Plus, according to dermatologists, retinol and prescriptive retinoids are the gold standard ingredients in skincare. Did you know they’re so effective that they’re prescribed and recommended for both aging and acne concerns? If retinol did, in fact, thin the skin, it would not and could not uphold this title.

3. Retinol can only be applied to mature skin.

False. While retinol is believed to only treat aging concerns, it is also very helpful for acne-prone skin - improving cell turnover and restoring a healthy-looking skin tone. In fact, dermatologists prescribe retinoids for teenagers ages 12+. Many brands don’t attempt to include retinol in their acne clearing products due to the risk of irritation. But when done well, it’s entirely beneficial.

4. You shouldn’t combine retinol and Vitamin C.

Vitamin C (and Vitamin E) actually improve the results you get from retinol. Many brands use the water-soluble Ascorbic Acid version of Vitamin C because it’s so inexpensive. Unfortunately, it requires a very acidic environment to be stable and effective. That’s not possible when formulated with retinol. However, you can formulate retinol with the much more stable and effective oil-based forms of Vitamin C like Tetrahyexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Our Retinol Vitamin C Concentrate is a perfect example that this combination is both possible and highly effective.

5. Retinol exfoliates your skin.

Retinoids accelerate skin cell production. Due to this increased skin cell turnover rate (new skin cells replacing old skin cells), it isn’t uncommon that when using a retinol, your skin may flake or feel slightly irritated. And while these effects are most often associated with exfoliants, they are, indeed, effects of your retinol—and a sign of the wonderful things it’s doing for your skin. You can alleviate flaking and remove dead skin cells by buffing your face with a warm washcloth, or gently exfoliating with a product containing salicylic acid, like Clarifying Gel Mask.

6. It makes you more sensitive to the sun.

The misconceptions regarding retinol and the sun are truly abundant. You may have heard this one before. But in reality, the most effective skincare ingredients can make your more sensitive to the sun, so you should always use a sunscreen. Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30-50 and UVA & UVB protection.

7. It takes 3-4 weeks to see dramatic results.

While this might be ideal, it’s simply not true, or practical. With any good, effective skincare, dramatic results are achieved over at least twelve weeks of consistent use. The great news—in two weeks, you will likely begin to notice changes in the evenness and clarity of your skin tone, as well as your skin’s radiance. Plus, your skin will also likely feel more supple and smooth. But keep in mind, you’ll get your best, most optimal results over time. In fact, contrary to popular belief that your skin will become immune to retinol, your results will actually only continue to improve the longer you use it. Dermatologists can tell you their long-term retinoid users (5, 10, 15-year usage) have more beautiful, more refined skin tone and texture than the average person.

8. Stop using retinol the moment you experience irritation.

As mentioned above, retinol accelerates your skin cell turnover rate. This may result is flakiness and/or irritation. But be persistent and consistent. If you do experience some irritation, it typically peaks around day 12 to 14 and then subsides. If you do experience irritation, rather than foregoing retinol, reduce your usage to every other day and then increase to daily once your skin has adjusted. The bottom line though—irritation is a normal sign that your retinol is working.

So, there you have it! Not only are many of these myths on the interweb untrue, but they may actually be hindering you from achieving your very best, most beautiul skin. Now, are you ready to introduce a retinol product into your skincare routine?