It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that retinol and I have a tricky relationship, where one tests the other more than the other. (I’ll let you guess.) But as someone who has somehow found herself navigating her late 20s, retinol (a form of vitamin A) is one of those catch-all ingredients I find myself being increasingly drawn toward. With regular use, this dermatologist-approved ingredient tackles a vast range of skin issues, including texture, tone, fine lines, acne, and hyperpigmentation. But because it’s shrouded in a lot of scientific terms and myths, I’ve hesitated to make retinol or, rather, retinoids (more on that later) part of my daily routine. That is, until I discovered Glossier‘s brand-spanking-new Universal Pro-Retinol.
“We were craving a more straightforward experience [of retinol],” Chenaya Devine-Milbourne, senior director of product marketing and development at Glossier says in a global press Q&A. “One that didn’t compromise on powerful, visible results, but held your hand a bit more — whether you’re a first-time user or a retinoid expert looking for the ultimate forever formula.” As someone who falls in the middle of that spectrum, I can guarantee you it’s one of the most gentle retinol products I’ve ever used.
OK, now let’s back it up a little bit and dig into the science that I personally find not the easiest to swallow. (There’s a reason I didn’t go into medicine. Sorry, mom and dad.) “Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives and come in three primary forms: retinol, retinal and retinoic acid,” Camille Howard, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and entrepreneur, explains via the press Q&A. “They bind to receptors in our skin and facilitate multiple physiological cascades essential to building collagen and supporting the layers of the skin,” including increasing cell turnover and producing natural hyaluronic acid. And that’s not even all retinol can do. “From an acne standpoint, the increase in cell turnover helps unclog pores,” Sheila Farhang, an Arizona-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, previously explained to Allure. “This also helps decrease the appearance of brown or red post-acne spots — post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation — as well as help collagen synthesis for acne scarring.” Have your ears perked up yet?