What is a retinoid and what does it do?
A retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that is essentially a superhero for your skin. Retinoids can unclog pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and speed up skin cell regeneration. Retinoids are available in three different prescription strengths as well as weaker over-the-counter treatments called retinols. Retinols are slightly less potent than their prescription counterparts--but over time, retinols are converted to retinoic acid, the active-ingredient in prescription strength retinoids, making them an effective anti-aging ingredient.
How do I use retinoids?
It's important to use retinol creams at night because retinoids are sensitive to light and can degrade with even minimal exposure to sunlight. Start by applying a retinol cream every other night. Once you're confident that your skin can handle the retinol treatment without becoming overly dry or sensitive, begin applying the cream on a nightly basis and follow with a moisturizer. Note that for some people, retinol treatments will cause temporary redness and dry skin. If these side-effects do not subside after 3-4 weeks, discontinue use.
The bottom line
There's really no reason why you shouldn't start using retinoids today. While retinoids do help repair existing skin damage, they are also a great preventative tool to add to any skin-care regimen.