Cosmetic Update

What are the effects of retinol and how to use it correctly? “The Three Great Beauty Ingredients” Taught by a Cosmetic Dermatologist

Cosmetics containing retinol that anyone can easily buy at drugstores. Some people may have heard that it is an ingredient that is effective against wrinkles, but surprisingly few people may be aware of its effects and how to use it correctly…

This time, we asked Dr. Mayumi Nomoto, director of Mayumi Nomoto Clinic Ginza, to explain the effects of retinol, how to use it correctly, and even the recently talked-about “Bakuchiol.”

What kind of ingredient is retinol?

Retinol is a type of vitamin A. To understand retinol, we will first explain the effects of vitamin A.

■ Promotes turnover and promotes skin regeneration
■ Acts directly on the dermis to increase collagen and hyaluronic acid, making the skin plump
■ Increases blood vessels in the dermis, making it easier for nutrients to reach the skin

What makes vitamin A different from other ingredients is that it can bind to nuclear receptors within cells and directly approach DNA, improving skin function at the cellular level .

Effects and uses of retinol

Next, we will explain in detail the effects of retinol.

Retinol is a type of vitamin A, but each type has different characteristics, so the appropriate way to use it also differs. Tretinoin, which has the highest physiological activity among vitamin A , is used to treat acne and age spots .

Source: Provided by Mayumi Nomoto

We will introduce the characteristics of “Retinol palmitate”, “Retinol propionate”, “Retinol acetate”, “Retinol” and “Tretinoin”.

Retinol palmitate/Retinol propionate/Retinol acetate

Retinol palmitate, retinol propionate, and retinyl acetate are called retinyl esters, which are the most stable of vitamin A and are stored in large amounts in the skin. Because it does not cause skin irritation, it is also included in commercially available cosmetics. It can prevent “photoaging” from ultraviolet rays .


Among vitamin A, “retinol” is an intermediate component, and is often used in cosmetic dermatology to improve skin quality. It is suitable for those who want to improve fine wrinkles and add shine while minimizing skin irritation . Low concentrations of retinol are also used in some cosmetic products.

While retinol has higher biological activity of vitamin A than retinyl ester, it also has the disadvantage of being more sensitive to light, that is, more susceptible to the effects of ultraviolet rays. Therefore, most cosmetics containing retinol are used only at night .


Tretinoin has the highest physiological activity among vitamin A and has the strongest effect on the skin. Tretinoin is an ingredient that can maximize the effects of vitamin A, and is useful in anti-aging treatments such as deep wrinkles and sagging skin , and is also used as a treatment for skin diseases such as age spots and acne .

While tretinoin is highly effective, it also has the disadvantages of strong skin irritation and low stability. While undergoing treatment with tretinoin, you will be more susceptible to the effects of ultraviolet rays, so use it only at night , and it is essential to take measures against ultraviolet rays during the day.

What’s interesting is that the effects and uses of vitamin A vary depending on the type.

Retinol side reactions

One of the disadvantages of vitamin A is “side reactions.” Typical side reactions include what is called the A reaction, such as redness, peeling, dryness, and a feeling of tightness.The stronger the physiological activity of a drug, such as retinol or tretinoin, the more likely it is that the A reaction will occur. Masu.

Please note that people with dry or sensitive skin are more likely to have an A reaction. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, the penetration of the ingredients may be weaker, and you may be less likely to get an A reaction.

From this point of view, if you want to use stronger ingredients, it is a good idea to have your skin condition examined at a beauty clinic and choose a product that suits you.

How to choose skin care cosmetics containing retinol

images of skin care items

Commercially available skin care cosmetics containing retinol

Many commercially available retinol-containing cosmetics contain a combination of retinol palmitate, retinol propionate, retinol acetate, and retinol. Even in the same retinol-containing cosmetics, the concentration varies.

Retinol-containing skin care cosmetics exclusive to medical institutions

The difference between commercial products and retinol-containing cosmetics sold exclusively by medical institutions is that they contain a higher concentration of retinol , and that techniques such as encapsulation and microemulsion allow retinol to remain on the skin for a longer period of time .

The ingredients contained in medical institution exclusive products also vary depending on the product. There are “attack type” products and “protective type” products.The “attack type” is for skin diseases such as spots and acne, and for aging such as deep wrinkles, while the “protective type” is for those who want to delay aging caused by ultraviolet rays. It would be a good idea to choose a product with “.

“Aggressive types” are more likely to have an A reaction because their skin is highly irritated. It is important to use both offensive and defensive products properly, so consult your doctor and have them choose the one that suits your skin type.

Bakuchiol, a new ingredient that eliminates the disadvantages of retinol

In recent years, the skin care ingredient “Bakuchiol” has appeared, which has all the advantages of retinol while overcoming the disadvantages.

Bakuchiol is a component extracted from the seeds of a plant called Orandabu, which belongs to the leguminous family, and has been reported to have a wrinkle -improving effect similar to that of retinol . Additionally, it is characterized by its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects .

For those who cannot use retinol due to strong irritation, there is also the option of cosmetics containing bakuchiol. There are also products that combine retinol and bakuchiol to enhance the effects of retinol and reduce skin irritation.

Isn’t it just retinol? ! The “Three Houses of Beauty Ingredients” you need to know

Image of a woman touching her skin

Some people may wonder if they need to continue treatment with tretinoin if they are unable to notice any changes with retinol.

However, in the world of beauty, there is no such thing as “big is also small.” Stronger ingredients do not necessarily mean better. If retinol is not effective, you first need to think about whether vitamin A is suitable for your skin in the first place.

There are three types of beauty ingredients that I often introduce to my patients.

(1) “Vitamin A” that promotes skin turnover and promotes skin regeneration (2) “Vitamin C”
that exhibits excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (3) “Peptide” that increases collagen in the skin

The ingredients needed for the skin differ from person to person, with some people preferring vitamin A, others preferring vitamin C, and some people need all three .

For those who are worried about aging care

If you are concerned about your skin’s aging and have tried various things but your problem does not improve, start by reviewing your daily skin care and makeup routine .

You don’t need to visit a beauty clinic right away, but if you can’t get rid of your worries no matter what you do, one way is to get advice from a doctor .

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