When it comes to anti-ageing skin care, you will be hard pushed to find more effective ingredients that Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol.

The latter, in particular, is often featured on the front of glossy magazines as the ultimate wrinkle-busting elixir. Formulated to improve skin texture, pigmentation, and tone skin in just a few drops of serum or dollops of cream.

It's pretty impressive stuff.

But with so much information floating around about Retinol, and it can get confusing. So, for the sake of clarity, let's debunk the science and explain exactly why this ingredient kicks ass.

Retinols or Retinoids?

When we talk about Retinols or Retinoids, we are referring to a group of products that are chemically-derived from Vitamin A.

Retinoid is the generic term to describe something that is chemically related to Vitamin A and that works by regulating cell tissue growth. In the body, Retinoids control cell growth and differentiation, bone tissues, immune and vision functions and activate tumour suppression genes.

Prescription Retinoids

And now for the geeky bit.

A Retinoid could be a Tretinoin, Isotretinoin, a Retinol, an Acitretin, Bexarotene or Adapalene. For skincare, the Retinoids that matter are:

1. Tretinoin. You may have heard of Retin-A. This is the brand name of Tretinoin, a medically prescribed anti-ageing cream.

2. Isotretinoin. Accutane and Roaccutane are both brand names of Isotretinoin, a powerful treatment for acne.

These brands sell prescription-only Retinoids that are extremely concentrated. It isn’t uncommon, for example, to see strengths of 0.025%. And even at a micro-dosage, the skin takes time to build up a tolerance to prescription Retinoids.

Tretinoins are prescribed using just a tiny amount to start with and are often mixed with regular moisturiser. They are then only applied every second or third day.

For Isotretinoin, acne sufferers can sometimes see their problems get worse before they get better (purging). Likewise, new Tretinoin users may experience flaking and dryness while skin gets used to the application.

Of course, there are skin conditions and problems that require such a drastic approach. But thankfully, most of us can be spared the expense and side-effects of prescription Retinoids, yet get all the benefits of Vitamin A in a much kinder formulation.

Mainstream Retinol

Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that was sort of stumbled upon by scientists working to develop a cure for severe acne, way back in 1947.

Unlike its more aggressive Retinoid siblings, over-the-counter Retinols can be used safely by most people, including sufferers of dermatitis or those with sensitive skin types. 

Retinol promotes the formation of new skin cells and helps remove the less than perfect ones. Because of this, its effects are similar to that of an exfoliant. It reinvigorates the skin's dermal layer, promoting a fresh looking, healthy and youthful complexion.

By working to remove the less optimal cells, Retinol can also help to heal damaged scar tissue, as well as reduce hyperpigmented (dark) patches, by driving those damaged cells out of the lower layers of the skin.

Pretty cool, right?

But where Retinol really excels is its ability to help increase the production of collagen in your skin, which plumps out fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinol, like Vitamin C Serum, also helps to fight free radicals. These are the nasty little blighters in the environment that destroy the very DNA of healthy skin cells. They come from pollution, smoke, and UV rays.

Using Retinol Cream

We thought long and hard about the formulation of Mend Retinol Cream but the end result was worth the effort.

Unlike the vast majority of Retinol products on the market, it is well buffered with the perfect balance of natural anti-inflammatories and botanical extracts, including Green Tea, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E and Shea Butter. This means that it can be tolerated by all skin types, including sensitive and acne prone skin.

Do bear in mind, however, that the cellular-level changes to the skin do not happen overnight. Ongoing, continuous use of Retinol Cream is, therefore, essential to start reaping the benefits.

Using SPF alongside Retinol Cream is also recommended. Retinol increases photosensitivity and so sun protection, even on cloudy days, is essential. For best results, we suggest applying Mend Vitamin C Serum in the morning to help improve the efficacy of your daily SPF, and Mend Retinol Cream at night time only.