In fact, retinoids – the umbrella name for derivatives of vitamin A, of which retinol is one – are one of the most researched skincare ingredients, according to Etre Vous Expert and Cosmetic Doctor Emmaline Ashley.
“With more than 40 years of clinical data behind them, we know retinoids can effectively increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, reduce sebum production, and aid skin healing,” shares Ashley.
But there are many misconceptions that surround retinoids and when it comes to retinol especially, the most prevalent myth is that it’s best not to use it during the summer months. But is there any truth to this?
The truth about retinolAvailable without a prescription, retinol is the most commonly used retinoid in over-the-counter skincare, and although it works in the same way a prescription retinoids, it is far milder.
And while sensitivity, dryness and redness can be an issue when you first begin, or if you don’t gradually work your way up the strength ladder – “there is no evidence that it makes your skin photosensitive. Meaning it’s a total myth that it will cause your skin to burn in UV light,” reveals Ashley.
This is a misconception that was likely born out of the advice to avoid the sun when using retinoids, “but that has more to do with UV light inactivating the chemical formula than anything else,” says Ashley.
Studies have proven this, showing that retinoids don’t impact the minimal erythemal dos of human skin, which is the amount of UV light the skin can tolerate before burning.
So, in actual fact the skin doesn’t become any more sensitive to the sun after retinoid exposure, it’s retinoids themselves that are sensitive to the sun. They break down making them less effective, which is why most experts recommend using retinol at night.
Sun protection is still keyHowever, even though retinol doesn’t exacerbate your skins sensitivity to the sun, “you should be wearing a high broad-spectrum sunscreen all year round,” advises Ashley.
Why? Because even retinol has its limits, and repeated sun exposure causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and an increase in melanin production, leading to lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and a leathery look to the skin that will be hard to reverse once the damage is done.
Emmaline Ashley, Aesthetic Doctor
I'm Dr Emmaline Ashley, the founder of Ashley Aesthetics. I'm passionate about beauty, wellness and science. I wanted...Book with Emmaline Ashley