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With so much marketing chatter about retinol, retinoids, retinal and retinol-like alternatives, as well as naturals and synthetics, it's time to revisit and refresh what we think we know
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Everything you need to know about retinol (a geeky series)

Everything you need to know about retinol (a geeky series)

Retinol is a dermatologist-trusted "anti-aging" ingredient for its ability to rewind skin age a few years, but for many of us its reputation for being harsh and irritating is the thing that sticks. Doesn't help that the various forms of the ingredient are confusing too – retinol, retinoids, retinal – what? On top of that, there are a ton of retinol products out there now, and so much marketing chatter about "retinol-like" or "retinol-alternative" ingredients, but what's The Actual Deal?

Seems like a good time to review retinol facts, from what it is (and isn't) and what it does to why dermatologists like it, and what to try (and how), even if you're a newbie. 

Naturally, I've dived far deeper into the topic than I'd intended, so I've broken the initial batch of info up into shorter posts and called it a geeky series. In the next section 👇🏼 is a list of upcoming topics that I'll update with links once each post goes live.

(Side note: rather than "anti-aging," a term that ignores that the opportunity to age is a privilege, let's go with "aging-well" or "better-aging" instead, 'k?)


I can't escape my love and need for all the details, and you must like details too if you're here. ❤️ But if you want just one detail that explains why retinol (or a certain powerful retinol relative) is an ingredient worth adding to your skincare, STAT, no matter how young you are...


Retinol is a trusted, thoroughly researched and proven non-prescription aging-well ingredient that can actually help to preserve the youthfulness of your skin as well as give some of that youthfulness back.

So many retinol options – how do you choose? Hope this All The Things To Know series will help.

So many retinol options – how do you choose? Hope this All The Things To Know series will help.


As mentioned earlier in this post, I'll add links when posts go live, and update with new topics as they occur. If there's a topic you hope to see, just let me know in the comments. And if you have questions that might become posts (i.e. questions that require consulting dermatologists, cosmetic chemists and research papers for answers), please do feel free to leave a note in the comments!

What is retinol? Is it Natural? Is it Toxic? Answers these questions and more, retinol to that thing your parents probably told you as a kid: "eat your carrots so you can see in the dark."

What's the difference between retinol and prescription retinol? Is retinol the same as retinal? Outlines the retinol family and its dynamics including where retinol stands in the hierarchy.

What does retinol do? Benefits and drawbacks, why dermatologists love it so much, and why it's ill-advised during pregnancy.

Why should I try retinol now? Includes info on retinol concentration and whether a drugstore formula is worth considering, plus suggestions for new and intermediate retinol users.

How do I use retinol? How to start using retinol, where it fits in a skincare regimen, and what to avoid when you use it.

I'm also working on additional retinol-related posts that I haven't listed here yet; I'll add them with links as they're published.


Where would you rank your retinol knowledge on a scale of 1 to 5?

Have you tried retinol, or a prescription version?

Have you ever been on Accutane? (Spoiler alert: that's an oral version of a retinol relative.)

If you've tried retinol or a prescription, how was your experience?

Do you have any  – burning or otherwise *grin* – retinol questions?