Monday 22 April 2024

Retinol and the Vitamin A Pathway

What are Retinoids?
Retinoids is a blanket term for a class of Vitamin A which is commonly used in skincare. Retinoic acid is the ingredient with the most scientific evidence for anti-aging benefits. By increasing collagen production, this ingredient helps thicken the dermis (the middle layer of skin) and therefore smooths out wrinkles. 

When to use
You can use these products day or night but be aware of protecting your skin if using in sunlight. As well as thickening the dermis, retinoic acid thins our outer layer of skin by roughly 1/3 which means our natural sun protection is a little less which is why, when using Retinoids by day it is very important to use a good suncream - which you should be doing all the time anyway. Retinoids applied at night help normalise the skin structure by increasing cellular mitosis which in turn stimulates collagen production. 

As well as boosting collagen production and reducing the appearance of aging, Retinoic acid is an effective skin communicating ingredient. This means that it instructs cells how to behave and can boost skin health and appearance at any age. Although it is thought of as an ingredient to use to prevent signs of aging, you can start using this from your mid-20s when your cell turnover starts to slow. 

Retinoids have a number of additional benefits alongside their anti-aging properties. For instance they are great for reducing hyperpigmentation as they inhibit melatonin production. 

Retinyl palmitate is included in many suncreams which allows manufacturers to claim that they are anti-aging. However this compound is the least effective retinoid, and is often used in such small amounts that it cannot have any affect. Some studies even show it has been associated with skin cancer.

Retinol or Retinal?
Vitamin A travels through several stages known as the 'Vitamin A Pathway'. (See graphic.) Retinoic acid is 'active' on the skin and all retinoid products must convert to retinoic acid to be effective. Retinol converts to retinal which in turn converts to retinoic acid. 

  • Retinol is the most commonly found form of Vitamin A, the most stable and therefore the most easy to manufacture. It is the first stage in the Vitamin A pathway so it needs two conversions to become retinoic acid. 
  • Retinal is much less stable so it is harder to find. It is the next step along the pathway so only needs to make one conversion to retinoic acid meaning it is often gentler on sensitive skins
  • Retinoic acid in its converted form is only available via prescription and is often known by tretinoin or a brand name such as Retin-A. 

Using some form of retanoid in your skincare is an excellent way to troubleshoot a whole host of problems and achieve the skin you want. I've listed some of my favourites below 

Retinol - The Ordinary Retinol - usually I don't like this brand very much but I've heard great things about their retinol 

Retinal - Tropic Youth Potion (search Youth Potion) - this is new and, having used tretinoin for years I didn't expect this to make any visible difference but I saw it almost immediately. Skin texture was improved, my skin was glowing and I think I can see a big improvement in my dark cirles. 

Retinoic Acid (Tretanoin) - Skin + Me - I have used this for nearly 2 years and I really love it. Fill out the online consultation and get your own prescription. 

Retinoids and the vitamin a pathway


Friday 29 March 2024

Chemical vs Physical Suncream

Understanding suncare is something I feel very passionate about as there is a lot of misinformation out there. Sun damage and photo-ageing are often the reason people want to improve their skin routine, as with most things it's much easier to prevent than cure. A good suncream, proper skin routine and use of antioxidants in your skincare can really help the youthful appearance of your skin and is better for your overall health. 

A major problem caused by sun damage is that the collagen that holds the dermis and epidermis together is one of the first to be broken down by UV resulting in skin movement and flaccidity as we age. This is nearly impossible to repair but pretty easy to prevent. Use a good suncream. 

So what is the difference between a chemical and physical suncream?

Chemical Suncream:

  • This makes up the majority of sunscreens. These penetrate the epidermis to work in and on the skin to absorb the sun's rays before they can penetrate the dermis and cause damage. The chemicals absorb the UV, convert to heat which is then released from the body. 
  • A single chemical often can't do both UVA and UVB protection so they will make a compound of a couple of chemicals. These chemicals are harmful to sea-life and coral - in fact some are banned in certain parts of North America and Australia. 
  • Chemical sunscreens have been shown to cause more free-radical damage (it's not just UV damage that causes free-radical damage but it can be the chemicals themselves), hyperpigmentation and they are more likely to causes sensitivity and prickly head in children.

Physical Suncream:

  • Designed to stay on the surface of the skin and act like a shield, these individual ingredients work effectively against both forms of UV. 
  • Look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, ideally non-nano (coral and marine safe). 
  • Nano or non-nano refer to the size of the particles - nano is smaller and therefore more is absorbed in through the skin. Absorption of these two is fine, we have zinc in our bodies anyway but you want to maintain safe levels which is why it's good to go for non-nano. 
  • These are ideal for those with sensitive skin and children. Think about nappy rash creams, they often contain zinc as a healer of the skin.
  • Also it's not going to leave yellow stains on your clothes which is an added bonus 

My favourite suncreams are:
  • DoTerra Face + Body Stick - for on the go this is the one that won't leak, works on all the family and even goes on well over makeup
  • DoTerra Face + Body - the cream version of the stick. More expensive so I have this in my bathroom for my own use (and my husband if he ever remembers) to use on my body during the summer
  • Tropic Skin Shade - I use this ever single day, a lovely tinted physical suncream the gives a warm healthy glow to the skin
  • Tropic Skin Shade - this is what I have in the kitchen for the whole family to use
All of these recommendations contain zinc which won't be suitable for those allergic to zinc. If you are allergic to zinc then this is the suncream I recommend from Green People

Image showing the difference between chemical and physical suncream


Friday 17 November 2023

Jones Road Miracle Balm

 One of the most requested reviews, Jones Road Miracle Balm. I do like it but I'm not sure I love it. Lots of people do but some people have struggled. Could this be the marmite of the beauty world? 


Sunday 12 November 2023

Christmas Gift Ideas

Some ideas for christmas presents, stocking fillers and things you may want to add to your Christmas list

  • Eye Masks - these look lovely and go well in a stocking, tucked into a Christmas card and aren't expensive to post! 
  • Blue Bowl - I love this place to get presents and Florence is doing advent calendars too 
  • Hourglass Palettes - I love Hourglass Palettes and the new ones look absolutely divine. They are worth the money for the amount of use you can get and their longevity but it helps that John Lewis currently have them 20% off

  • Nail Collection - All nail buffers are the same. Not true, for some reason this one is better than others. You could get this kit, split it up and use them in stockings
  • Ian Snow - another nice website to look for unusual presents 
  • Oskia Super C - I'm very dubious about which Vitamin C products actually work but these do and I love them. You'd be surprised at how many messages I get from husbands asking me for skincare recommendations for their wives 'something expensive they'd never get themselves', this is one of those things I'd recommend and it's currently on sale
  • Hydrogel Eyemasks - these are fantastic for all skin types and they come in a pack of five so great to split up if you have multiple stockings to fill 

  • Scalp Massager - using one of these was a complete game changer for my hair. It removes any product build up from the scalp and encourages thicker, healthier hair 
  • Beauty Baubles - choose to suit skin type or goals if in doubt, go hydrate. 


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