Skin Health 101
Unsure of your skin type? Wondering what is an exfoliant and why do you need one? Curious about an ingredient? Does skincare confuse you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this page is the one for you!
Welcome to Nia Imani.
As many of you know, I am a licensed and practicing esthetician. My goal as an esthetician is to provide my clients with the tools they need to support the treatment. I believe the most valuable tool they need is skin knowledge– skin health knowledge that is.
I want my clients to understand what effects of ingredients, skincare tools, and more. My goal is to arm them with the knowledge to protect their skin’s health. I feel that arming them with skin health knowledge will empower them to make good skin care choices even when I am not around or available to provide guidance.
I want to use that same philosophy here on Nia Imani. I believe all people, not just my clients should have access to information pertaining to skin health. I wanted to share my passion for skin health and skincare competency. I believe skin should be taken care of and maintained like all other organs. I also believe that as a licensed professional and skin care enthusiast I have a fantastic opportunity to share the knowledge, tips, and tricks that I have acquired with everyone (not just my clients). So, with that welcome to skin health 101.
Skin Health 101 is a series of skin care related posts; this series is about all the various kinds of skin care tidbits that only licensed professionals and skin care enthusiast know. This series is for people who just are in a skin care runt, or need a little help navigating skin care, or even just someone looking to know a little more about skin care. I will be breaking down everything from ingredients to hot tips and more! Awesome, right?
Ok, today’s 101 is going to cover retinoids. So, without further ado let’s jump into it!
Retinol is all the rage. Everyone and their mom talks about it. It seems like if you aren’t using retinol then you are way behind the times, right? I think with all the hoopla about retinol people forget to ask what retinol is and more importantly, people forget to ask how retinol works. If you ask me nothing matters more than to know if this “trendy” ingredient will actually benefit me. So, let’s explore retinol, how it works, and who exactly it works on, shall we?
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a derivate of Vitamin A. In fact, Retinol aka retinoic acid is the primary form of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is an isoprenoid polyene alcohol and it is arguably the most beneficial nutrient for the skin; it can resurface the skin, brighten the skin, protect against UV damage, slow aging signs, encourage healthy skin cell production, firm and tighten the skin, protect against infection, even tone, and clear blemishes. Vitamin A is a skin care jewel! Vitamin A can be found in natural plant/food sources; scientists have also created stable; synthetic forms of vitamin A. Retinol comes in many forms and these different formulations are meant for different skin types and/or concerns. Retinol is an extremely regulated ingredient in the United States; over the years the FDA has updated rules and laws banning over the counter brands from creating products with certain percentages of retinol. Also, there are forms of retinol that only come in prescription form. The stronger, more potent retinoid is more than likely only available via a medical provider. Even though some forms of retinol are stronger than others, all of them work the same.
How do Retinoids work?
Retinoids work by penetrating deep into the skin; they work on a cellular level by changing the skin’s metabolism. They speed up the metabolism of the skin to increase the skin’s desquamation process. A quicker desquamation process means fresher skin layers which means skin concerns such as wrinkles, dark spots, and blemishes clear up faster. Due to the natural skin shedding process, full results may take up to 180 days to be seen.
Different Types of Retinoids.
There are over the counter retinoids; these retinoids are relatively gentle and mostly correct aging concerns. Retinyl Palmitate, retinaldehyde, and adapalene are the most common forms of over the counter retinols. These retinols, like the others, speed up the metabolism of the skin and force the skin to speed up the desquamation period. Due to the extremely low percentage of retinol in these products, they are perfect for retinol beginners. They usually yield slower results than prescribed retinoids and these retinoids are generally well buffered and are easy to adapt to. Thus, making them friendly for more skin types to use. 
Prescribed retinoids are stronger. Can often result in faster, more long-lasting result however dehydration and irritation are more likely and extremely common for those using prescription grade retinoids. Tretinoin aka Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Refissa, Tretin-X, Renova, and Avita is probably the most common form of prescribed retinol. Retin- A treats acne, rosacea, melasma, keratosis pilaris, and molluscum contagiousm. It’s also given to those who are working to minimize aging signs. Other forms of prescribed retinoids are Isotretinoin, Tazarotene, and Acitretin. Retin- A is followed by Isotretinoin in popularity. Isotretinoin is known for its serious side effects and it an oral medication that is generally used in extreme cases only. Tazarotene and Acitretin are the least common forms of retinoid they are just not as popular as the other two due to their limited amount of conditions they treat.
Should you use Retinol?
Retinol is a great ingredient. It literally treats everything! No job is too big for retinol, so yes, I am sure you can benefit from retinol. My advice is:
Thank you for stopping by Nia Imani. If you have any questions, comments, etc. please leave them below. All of my social media and other forms of contact are in the “contact” tab above. Make sure you check out other Skin Health 101 posts! Thank you again for stopping by I hope you enjoyed today’s posts remember to like and share—until next time!
 Over the counter retinoids can cause irritation to the skin but are less likely to result in the same level of irritation as prescribed retinoids.
 Isotretinoin is most commonly known as Accutane. It treats severe forms of acne such as cystic acne.
 Tazarotene aka Tazorac, Avage, and Fabior treats psoriasis and acne.
 Acitretin is also known as Soriatane and it treats psoriasis.