The Power Of Retinols

Retinols and SPF's are the only two beauty ingredients that can legally claim to be anti-ageing. I use SPF when I am out in the sun but I hadn't advanced to using retinols in my skincare routine. Until that is I kept reading about them and realised I probably should have started before now. Retinols have great benefits for the skin but please do your research, as they come in different strengths and can cause irritation, particularly if you are new to them. Start with a milder form and progress through the strengths only when your skin is ready. Retinols are great at preventing breakouts, the anti-ageing benefits are undoubted, they're very good for pigmentation and acne scarring and they keep the pores clarified.

I started using Zelens Power A in October purposely because I was new to Vitamin A (Retinol) and I wanted to begin at a time of the year when the sun was not at it's strongest, so I didn't have to worry about the much debated adverse affects of the sun while using Retinol. I do however take extra care when I am going outside. Before I may have been happy enough with the SPF in my moisturiser, now I make sure I apply a proper sunscreen when going out (I don't count a quick shop run). I wasn't sure at this point how I was going to handle it in the strong summer sun but my opinion at the time was that I would not use Retinol during June/July/August or when I was on holiday.

The one thing that was clear for me when using Retinols was that you apply it at night and immediately after cleansing. Beyond this, I read different opinions. One saying that you continue with your normal skincare routine next, i.e. serum, then moisturiser. Others I read, said you didn't need to apply anything after the Retinol. So, I decided to trial it myself as it seemed there were no hard and fast rules on this. So the first night I used it, I didn't apply serum and moisturiser afterwards. Initially, my face felt tight but this settled down and I could feel it becoming more nourished (a bit like when you apply Alpha H Liquid Gold on it's own).

I approached this new phase to my skincare with extreme caution, having spent a lot of time researching Retinol, I was aware of the potential adverse affects at the beginning and my skin is somewhat sensitive. I decided to try Zelens because it is marketed as a retinol that is kind to your skin and is full of other 'nice' ingredients, Dr Marko Lens is a genius and well trusted skin doctor and if I was going to invest money in any step of my skincare it must be this.

The first night I used it, I put it on and kicked back my shoes and relaxed (not!). I spent every 5 minutes getting up to look in the mirror and examine what was happening. I didn't expect to see the clock going backwards as I was looking at my face but I did expect to see some redness and irritation, which I didn't see (not even in the slightest). I couldn't believe I wasn't having any adverse affects at all, as my skin can be temperamental with certain ingredients (unfortunately I don't know what!). After about 20 minutes, I touched my face and it was so smooth. I applied Power A about an hour before I went to bed and all was good. The next morning, my skin felt so smooth and clear with no redness or flaking. The only thing I could possibly say is that it felt a little more dry (although it didn't look it). Some of this I could definitely put down to the central heating but some of it I believe was down to the Retinol.

Week 2 and week 3 came and went without any concerns. Although I only used it once a week in the beginning, I did feel like it was still at work throughout the rest of the week and doing its job. After 4 weeks (at once a week remember) I didn't see many changes to my skin. It definitely felt smoother and more clarified to look at but not much diminishing of fine lines. No concerns at this stage, I was giving this product 3 months (including a slow introduction) to reveal itself and I had every faith in it!

I then stepped it up to twice a week for one month, then 3 times until eventually I was using it 5 times a week. I don't know why I don't use it every night, only to say that I have other serums that I like to incorporate into my skin care routine. A few months into using Retinol, and a little more research, I decided (and feel comfortable) applying it to thoroughly cleansed skin, then I go directly in with my moisturiser (no serum).

Now that I have reached the summer months, I am perfectly happy to continue using it throughout these months, ensuring I use my SPF every day. I will however not use it when I am on holiday as this for me entails long spells bathing in the sun and I just feel more comfortable not applying it.

I have noticed some profound changes in my skin in the nine months I have been using Zelens Power A. Overall, my skin is the best it has ever been. Specifically, the entire texture and tone of my skin has improved, it is more even in tone, much more firm and any enlarged pores have diminished. I rarely get any blemishes and if one does appear it clears up almost immediately. And most importantly my fine lines have reduced. Retinols take time to get to work, you won't see the effects immediately but over time you will noticed the benefits. You must be patient.

So, in summary, my advice is to start using a retinol as soon as you are concerned about skin ageing or have acne/breakout issues. Do your research and if possible discuss it with a dermatologist. Start with a mild dose of retinol and move to the next strength in stages. Be cautious of irritation but allow the skin time to adjust as any irritation should settle. And, lastly, allow a few months before expecting to see visible results.