Image of retinol molecule

Retinol – An Anti-Ageing Essential

March 20, 2018

What is Retinol?

Retinol is Vitamin A, an essential vitamin; we cannot produce it.  We have to consume foods that contain Vitamin A or ingredients that the body can convert to Vitamin A or we have to apply it topically.   Retinol is found in fish oils, eggs and butter and our bodies convert beta carotene, found in carrots and other vegetables, into Vitamin A.

Camel milk is an effective source of Vitamin A; with around 7.5 μg/ml of vitamin A and 9 μg/ml of carotene; a 100ml glass of camel milk can provide the daily recommended intake of 700-900 μg.  In practice, Vitamin A deficiency is rare.  From a skincare perspective though, an adequate dietary intake of Vitamin A is not enough to see the benefits; we need to apply a topical Retinol product.

The retinoid family comprises Vitamin A, known as Retinol, and its natural derivatives such as retinaldehyde, retinoic acid and retinyl esters as well as a large number of synthetic derivatives.

How Retinol Works

Retinoids work at a deep cellular level to stimulate skin cell growth and help boost collagen and elastin production, which keeps your skin supple and bouncy.  They also reduce cellular ageing and pore congestion and regulate the production of sebum (the skin’s natural oils).  Retinoids can be anti-inflammatory, reducing redness and blemishes, as well as helping to keep skin tone even and less prone to brown patches.

Cosmetic manufacturers make some broad claims for retinol, including that it:

  • Normalises blood flow, taking nutrients and oxygen to the cells.
  • Helps to reduce the symptoms of rosacea.
  • Increases the rate of wound healing, treating acne scarring.
  • Exfoliates, making skin smooth and even-toned.
  • Repairs the cellular structure of the epidermis thereby optimising your UV protection.
  • Decreases clustering of melanin granules, so reducing brown spots or pigmentation
  • Decreases sebum production, thus treating acne at source.
  • Promotes a healthy cellular membrane, improving skin hydration.
  • Helps in the eradication of pre-cancerous skin lesions.

On the other hand, a lack of Retinol can result in dry, tough and sometimes peeling skin, prematurely ageing your skin and leaving deep wrinkles.

What To Look For In A Retinol Product.

The key to a good Retinol product is the delivery system; the active ingredients have to be transported to the basal layer and the dermis to work.   Serums are specifically designed to have a small molecular structure that enables them to penetrate to the deeper dermal layers, so choose a serum in preference to a cream.

Quality serums will tend to use one of two main delivery systems for Retinol; retinaldehyde-liposome or AGP (arabinogalactan-protein), a molecular transport antioxidant.  Most other types of skin care products don’t have the ability to go so deep without irritation, but there is one exception; Camel Milk.  The fats in Camel Milk are so finely homogenised that the milk penetrates deep into the skin, leaving no surface residue.  The milk carries the active Vitamin A through all the skin’s structures to the receptors on the cells where it is needed.

All forms of topical Vitamin A are potent and effective, but some brands use basically inert quantities that have no skin benefits.   Other brands have such powerful formulations that can cause side effects such as red, dry, sensitive and inflamed skin.  These side effects outweigh the benefits and people stop using the creams, missing out on the all the positives of Retinol.

By looking for products with no added irritants or nasty chemicals, you can enhance results whilst minimising these side effects.  In this way, there is no drying of the skin, redness or irritation.

Look for products containing one of the modern superstars of the retinol world, such as hydroxypinacolone retinoate in a 0.5-1% dose, preferably combined with hyaluronic acid.  Alternatively, look for products that contain natural Vitamin A; the Retinol and Beta Carotene in CameLife’s skincare products is made by the camels.  Our products contain around 0.7% Retinol; the exact dose depends on the girls in the fields!

We’ll cover hyaluronic acid in a future blog post.  For now, just think of it as  a powerful humectant (a moisture-binding ingredient) that keeps your skin plump and hydrated and, yes, young-looking.

Using Retinoids

The usage guidance on most Retinoid serums is to use small quantities regularly at night, to produce consistent healthy cell turnover and radiant skin.  Some synthetic Retinoids can be destabilised by ultra-violet lights,  which is one of the reasons why they advise night-time usage.

Cosmetic companies vary in their opinions as to whether Retinol becomes unstable in sunlight.  Some say UV light can stop it working efficiently or even make the skin oversensitive, producing redness and irritation.  If one has particularly sensitive skin, it would be sensible to try a patch test first – so ask for a sample or use cream from the counter tester.

While retinol works wonders for many, it is certainly not for everyone.  For example, people with rosacea or eczema may not be good candidates for retinoids because retinoids exfoliate your skin and may cause it to become sensitive. Your skin may peel, flake, turn red and become dry during initial use.

It is key to use small amounts as you introduce it into your night routine. If your skin builds up a tolerance to retinoids and is not showing any signs of sensitivity, add a gentle face scrub a few times a week to your routine in order to clear the top layer of old skin.

Here at CameLife all of our products contain Retinol because it’s in the milk because the other amazing skincare benefits of Camel Milk should prevent the nasty side effects of other creams. Our serum isn’t specially designed to deliver Retinol; its simply one of the many benefits of using a Camel Milk based serum.

CameLife’s Restorative Serum can be used morning or night, whichever suits your regime.  Apply after cleansing and, if you use a toner, toning.  You can then quickly follow up with your moisturiser of choice; use our Restorative Day Cream before heading out or our Restorative Night Cream as part of a night time routine.   Either way, the other amazing benefits of using Camel Milk will prevent the nasty side effects of other creams.

But I Use AHA’s

We’ve talked to a lot of people who are using fruit-based acids in the belief that they will perform the same ‘miracle’.   So how is Retinol so different from fruit acids?

Fruit acids are Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which are claimed to have a ‘pull’ action which works on the skin surface to exfoliate and brighten it, whereas Retinol has a ‘push’ action to renew cell growth deep in the basal layer.

The large chain molecule  of AHAs do not penetrate the skin but sit on the surface; they cannot go much further down and activate the production of collagen deep in the skin basal layer and dermis.  Sure AHA’s will give your skin a gentle exfoliation, helping to peel away dead skin cells and regenerate the surface layers, but they cannot stimulate collagen production.

So perhaps the answer is to use both?  Not another expensive skincare product surely?  Well no, our camels have “thought” of that too!  The lactose in camel milk forms a gentle Lactic Acid, which is an AHA.

CameLife’s Facial Cleanser is specifically formulated to gently exfoliate and peel away dead skin cells, leaving your skin feeling squeaky clean and moisturised.  Follow that with a dose of collagen boosting Restorative Serum to give your skin that deep Retinol hit.  Camels, they’re clever!

To Conclude

There are lots of impressively expensive retinoid products out there which make exaggerated claims about how they will quickly get rid of wrinkles and leave you with smooth, youthful skin.  There is no doubt, though, that Retinol is a real skincare hero that should be at the heart of any serious anti-ageing skincare regime.

Here at CameLife, we like our products to do the talking.  Our core ingredient is camel milk.  The more we understand this wonderful ingredient, the more we become convinced that it is a true superfood for your skin!

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