The Retinol Rulebook: 3 Essentials for Choosing the Right Product

When selecting a retinol product, there are three crucial rules we should always follow:

1. Avoid Retinol in Open Jars with Lids

Retinol products should have minimal exposure to air and light, as this ingredient is highly sensitive and easily degraded. Opt for products in tubes or closed bottles with dispensers. If the manufacturer has included a sufficient percentage of active retinol, they will ensure proper packaging to maintain its efficacy.

2. Steer Clear of Cheap “Retinol”

High-quality retinol ingredients like encapsulated retinol, retinaldehyde, and hydroxypinacolone retinoate are genuinely expensive. For instance, the cost of retinaldehyde can exceed €7,000 per kilogram. These complex and costly actives require the expertise of technologists for stabilization with other ingredients and good packaging. Therefore, a genuinely effective retinol product won’t come cheap.

3. Be Wary of “Retinol” Products Containing Only Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl Palmitate is a distant derivative of tretinoin, several transformation steps away from the pure form. It’s essentially ‘retinol molecule + another molecule.’ Dr. Leslie Baumann, in her book Cosmetic Dermatology, notes that Retinyl Palmitate is not effective when applied topically, providing only a mild antioxidant effect. Instead, look for ingredients like Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Retinyl Propionate, Retinyl Retinoate, or Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate on the packaging.


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