What Are the Main Benefits of Using Retinol?

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In case you missed it, retinol is not just for mature skin. That’s right—women as young as 20-years-old should consider retinol to help with overall skin tone, sun damage and to prevent future signs of aging.

Here’s a quick refresher: Retinol supports natural collagen and elastin production, improving the appearance of collagen-depleted skin. “Collagen is a protein, also known as ‘skin’s building block,’ that can diminish with age as well as sun exposure. Replenishing this protein is critical to achieve younger-looking skin,” says Dr. Lucy Gildea, Chief Scientific Officer at Mary Kay. “In addition, retinol stimulates surface skin cell renewal, so skin appears more as it did when you were younger,” says Gildea.

“The beauty of retinol is its ability to both prevent and reverse signs of aging, meaning a user in her 20s and a user in her 50s can both experience visible results,” Gildea continues. Curious what those results look like? Read on for the top four benefits of using retinol.

1. Smooths Complexion

You can rest easy knowing that retinol is one of the most used and most well-studied anti-aging ingredients on the market. Originally marketed as an anti-acne treatment in the ’70s, retinol quickly proved to have considerable anti-aging effects. In a Mary Kay eight-week clinical study in which 22 women used their new Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5 every other night for the first two weeks, then applied nightly weeks three to eight, all women experienced over 100 percent improvement in skin smoothness. Now, those are results you can see…literally.

2. Increases Firmness

Collagen and elastin are proteins in the skin that are responsible for keeping your complexion plump and, well, elastic. We hate to break it to you, but your skin loses a little bit of collagen each year you get older. Retinol works by inhibiting collagen breakdown and is thought to stimulate the production of both collagen and elastin, which helps with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and firmness too.

3. Improves Skin Tone and Texture

One of the many noteworthy aspects of retinol is that it stimulates surface skin cell turnover, which is manifested as a sort of “exfoliating” effect. Dull and dry skin makes way for new, brighter and more even-toned skin. Skin feels smoother and has fewer overall imperfections. Thus, even relatively “problem-free” skin can appear more radiant with retinol.

4. It’s Available Without a Prescription

No need for any RX here. For most people, a retinol below prescription concentrations should be enough to get started. Some dermocosmetic/cosmetic products have higher concentration levels than others, like in Mary Kay’s new Retinol 0.5, which are typically more effective. Combining it with Mary Kay’s Calm + Restore Facial Milk and following their eight-week retinization process allows the skin to acclimate to the highly potent product with a lower risk of discomforts.

Clinical Solutions Retinol 0.5 ($78)

Clinical Solutions Calm + Restore Facial Milk ($50)

Clinical Solutions Retinol 0.5 Set ($120)



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