Ep42: Why Pure Retinol is the Gold Standard – Dermatologist’s Guide to Anti-Aging Skincare
Dr.Teo: Hi guys, welcome to this week’s episode of Dermatologist Talks: Science of Beauty. I’m Dr. Teo Wan Lin of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre and we have a really exciting topic to share today. It is going to be about skin cell energy. We’re going specifically in depth into the energy powerhouses of skin cells, known as the mitochondria. And a dermatologist’s guide when it comes to using the powerhouse anti-aging ingredient – retinol.
This episode is brought to by LANEIGE. The Perfect Renew Youth Retinol is a retinol cream for the entire face that contains pure retinol with 95% purity. It provides relief for the appearance of pores and wrinkles in just 7 days. This makes it one of the best anti-aging ingredient around.
Chelsea: Wow, the last time I learned about mitochondria must be in high school biology class! Knowing they’re the powerhouse of the cell, it does make sense that they’re important for our skin cells. How does mitochondria relate to our skin health?
What does mitochondria do for our skin?
Dr.Teo: Mitochondria are the machines embedded in each of our skin cells, enabling the skin to carry out day-to-day functions. This ranges from barrier function, protecting our skin against external environment, to repairing cell damage due to oxidative stress. Or skin damage either from ultraviolet exposure, environmental pollutants, or simply the process of biological aging. It leads to the loss of the ability of the skin cells to repair and to regenerate itself. The mitochondria are essentially powerhouses that contain all this energy to make your skin healthy and resilient.
Chelsea: I see, the mitochondria really does play a huge role in how healthy our skin is! Can you tell us more about how skin aging works? We normally associate skin aging with fine lines and wrinkles, but what actually is going on in the skin? What are the factors that contribute to this?
Dr.Teo: We have a lot of information with regards to the theory of aging related to the skin exposome concept. It refers to a process that occurs as one grows chronologically older. This results in the body’s reduced ability to repair the normal day-to-day stresses it was used to handling when younger. It is importance to understand the skin exposome concept. There are certain factors beyond your personal genetics within your control, such as your lifestyle or skincare regimen. All these have a significant impact on skin aging. Studies have proven that you can take control of this aging process through modifying these lifestyle and environmental factors.
We’re going in depth into that today. Starting with the role of dermocosmetics, which is a term coined for pharmaceutically active ingredients present in cosmetics. It can improve your skin health and slow down the skin-aging process, both a therapeutic and preventive option.
Chelsea: That’s so relevant, especially when it comes to anti-aging products! Well I’m curious to know, when is the right age to start using anti-aging products?
What is the right age to start using anti-aging products?
Dr.Teo: We always talk about aging starting when you’re in your mid 20s, is that true? Well, so far, our clinical studies have all suggested that the body does undergo overall physiological changes consistent with aging, when one goes past the age of 25.
The skin, being an external organ, is visible. Hence, it’s good for us to track the health of the overall body systems through the skin as well. The amazing property of skin is unlike the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys. They cannot be readily accessed other than through oral medications. The skin responds very well to topical application directly applied on the skin. We are talking about the ability of the skin to absorb active ingredients. For example dermocosmetics, through the barrier known as the stratum corneum.
Before we even go on to the types of active ingredients that are proven by science to play a key role in this process. We’re going to talk a little bit about skincare formulas. How important is it for a skincare formula to be well formulated? The answer is, it is far more important than the ingredients itself.
Chelsea: Wow, I’ve always paid more attention to the ingredient list. I have never really thought about how they are formulated. Why is the formulation of ingredients so important?
Why is it important to pay attention to the formulation of ingredients?
Dr.Teo: The reason is because we know that our active ingredients, which are beneficial for anti aging. For example, alpha hydroxy acid, AHA, BHA, help to exfoliate the skin and also increase the cell renewal turnover rate. Cellular turnover refers to how quickly new skin cells move from the deepest layers to the top layers of the skin, replacing old, dead skin cells. However, when it is poorly formulated in the wrong concentrations. It can either be too astringent, too harsh on the skin, resulting in skin sensitivity, or just totally ineffective.
Chelsea: That makes a lot of sense! Well moving on, retinol is one of the most well-researched anti-aging ingredient. For those unfamiliar, retinol is a type of retinoid. It is a derivative of vitamin A effective at preventing and minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. They’ve also proven to increase collagen production and skin elasticity.
The role of retinol as an anti-aging ingredient
Dr.Teo: Retinol is an over-the-counter alternative to retinoids, which is traditionally prescribed in dermatologists’ offices as a good anti-aging ingredient. It has a very good reputation for stimulating collagen production in the inner layer of the skin (dermis). The main reason why retinoids are prescription only is because of its high risk of skin irritation. However, retinol, the anti-aging ingredient, is formulated in over the counter products. It has become a sort of dermocosmetic ingredient because it’s much better tolerated. However, there are also retinol formulations which I personally have found to be very irritating on skin. They are also used as over the counter dermocosmetics.
Type of retinol used
The key here is the type of retinol that’s used as well, as an anti-aging ingredient. The Amorepacific R&D group, LANEIGE parent company. It is considered the international leader in the research of retinol in dermocosmetics from its anti-wrinkle to anti-acne functions. It is important that pure retinol is used as an anti-aging ingredient, which ensures highest levels of bioactivity. This means that whatever you apply on your skin will deliver results, as opposed to other forms of retinol. Cosmetic brands that do not emphasize the type of retinol that is in the product are most likely using a different form of retinol that needs to undergo conversion before it is able to absorb and deliver effects to the skin. For example, at the level of the dermis, what we’re looking at is stimulation of collagen production in order to exhibit its anti-wrinkle effect.
It’s also important for us to balance the concentration of active retinol as an anti-aging ingredient. With other ingredients that help to reduce the sensitizing or irritation potential of retinol. Ideally, the combination of ingredients should synergize with the molecule to stimulate collagen production and regulate new skin cells, or keratinocyte turnover.
LANEIGE Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Eye Cream
The LANEIGE Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Eye Cream has been perfected by the Amorepacific R&D group to attain the ideal cosmetic formulation for a non-irritating eye cream. It is also effective for reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and improving the appearance of the periorbital skin. It can also be used as a form of facial treatment over wrinkle-prone areas of the face to target areas such as the nasolabial folds, forehead area, and even the neck. This is ideally applied at night as retinols, like retinoids, are photosensitizing so it can cause one to be sun–sensitive. Hence, we only recommend application at night.
Chelsea: I’m also curious if the way creams are stored or how it is packaged actually make a difference to the function. Is there anything we should look out for when purchasing a retinol product?
How to pick the best retinol product for yourself
Dr.Teo: You’re absolutely right, Chelsea. In fact, pure retinol itself for an anti-aging ingredient is considered vulnerable to light and moisture. This makes it very important for us to purchase a retinol product from a reputable brand. It must also takes into consideration the packaging form as this ensures the stability of the product. The LANEIGE Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Eye Cream is in the packaging of a 3-step air tight system. It is developed specifically for retinol itself.
Firstly, the inner sealing of the cap at the tip of the product minimizes the inflow of oxygen. This prevents oxidation while also serving as a form of storage when the product is not in use. When you receive the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol, you will find that there has also been a separate stopper. It’s to prevent the seal from breaking in the shipping or distribution process. Finally, the 3rd step is incorporating an aluminium sheet that seals the content to block exposure to oxygen more effectively.
Chelsea: I’ve never used retinols or retinol-containing products before. How do I go about using the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Cream?
Directions for use
Dr.Teo: Consistency and gradual increase is the key principle to follow here. For the first week, we recommend applying an amount of about the size of a rice grain. Do this every other day as a step after your night cleansing regimen. A single rice grain for each area of wrinkles. The specific areas that have been studied by the Amorepacific R&D group would be the following 8 areas. Firstly, the forehead wrinkles, then the ones at your eyebrows known as the glabella wrinkles. The crow’s feet, the inner corner of your eyes, the under eye wrinkles. These all form an area we call the periorbital skin. The smile lines, the wrinkles around the mouth contour, as well as the neck lines.
Chelsea: Ah I see. From the research data I’ve seen, the results are demonstrable after only 1 week of usage!
Dr.Teo: Yes! Going back to how we are going to gradually build up your tolerance to the retinol anti-aging ingredient product. For the second week, repeat the same regimen but instead of every other day, apply the cream every night. From the third week onwards, you can increase the amount of retinol that you apply to each area. Our reference now is to apply the amount of a size of a bean to each of the areas of concern.
Chelsea: So incorporating a retinol into your skincare regime should be a gradual process instead of applying it hastily. And in large amounts all at one go. What are some of the precautions when we are using retinol? Is there anything I should avoid?
Precautions when using retinol
Dr.Teo: That’s a very good question. Because we know that a lot of bioactive molecules actually have specific effects in terms of skin physiology. We also want to be aware of any cross interactions with other products. So as to be able to get the best benefits and minimize any chance of skin irritation. When you’re using the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol for the face, be careful to avoid the following. First of all, do not use any exfoliators or scrubs. I’ve spoken about this in my previous podcast. It is not necessary to include a physically abrasive exfoliator in your skincare regimen. Because more often than not, it causes skin irritation rather than actual skin exfoliation. This is an improvement of the cell renewal process. Secondly, avoid any products containing alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acids, BHA. We also do not recommend any skin massages.
LED face masks
LED face masks seem to be rather popular in the home device market. But my personal opinion is that there is insufficient data to support the actual efficacy of using these handheld devices that deliver a limited amount of wattage to the skin as opposed to what is performed in a clinical setting. Besides, using an LED mask while you’re using a retinol cream is actually a contraindication. This is because it can increase your chance of light sensitivity. If you have undergone a laser treatment or chemical peel in the clinic, be sure to wait at least 3-5 days after inflammation has come down after the procedure to commence on your retinol regimen.
Chelsea: I’m just looking through the ingredient list of the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Cream for the face. What about the other ingredients that are present? You were saying earlier that we have to look at how the formulation of a product rather than just the active ingredient alone. Can you share with us a little bit more about why the Youth Retinol Cream’s formulation incorporates minimal skin irritation with maximal skin benefits?
Dr.Teo: For the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Cream, there is a synergistic combination of 6 active ingredients. Firstly, it contains a retinol itself, but it is the potent combination with the other five ingredients that synergizes with the active retinol molecule, that makes this Retinol cream outstanding in terms of its dermocosmetic function.
The hyaluronic acid is a five d complex multi-weighted molecular form that is readily absorbed by the sensitive periorbital skin, immediately providing plumpness to the delicate under eye area that is prone to fine lines and wrinkles due to barrier dysfunction, or breakdown of the skin barrier. with increased age.
Tri-peptide is a non-irritating, retinoid-like molecule that further boosts the function of retinol as an anti-aging ingredient. Tranexamic acid is a potent anti-pigmentation ingredient that can inhibit the production of melanin, reducing the chance of hyperpigmentation around the periorbital skin.
The glyco extract™, which is the patented formula by the LANEIGE parent company, Amorepacific R&D Group, ensures stable and effective absorption of potent antioxidants, including centella asiatica and specifically, madecassoside, which has the ability to lighten scars and also reverse oxidative stress.
Chelsea: Wow that certainly seems like something that I should get started on. You mentioned before that after the age of 25, we start to age. If that’s the case, we already know that prevention is better than treatment. The great thing about the Perfect Renew Youth Retinol cream is that while it’s formulated as an eye cream – which means it can be used even on the delicate eye area – it’s also perfectly safe and well tolerated on other parts of the face and it doesn’t require a doctor’s prescription.
I’m also a huge serum fan, because I love knowing that the active ingredients in the serum are encapsulated in a potent formula which I can apply on my skin. I also love the feel of serums on my skin – It’s what I look forward to most in terms of my day and night skincare routine.
What are the benefits of using serums on the skin?
Dr.Teo: Serums are actually the most efficient way to deliver concentrated active ingredients to your skin because of its ability to be readily absorbed into the skin.
I’m really excited to be able to share the latest formulation of LANEIGE Perfect Renew Youth Regenerator, which is in the form of a serum, by the Amorepacific research group that has incorporated all these ideal elements, and an anti aging anti wrinkle serum in a single product.
The Perfect Renew Youth Serum contains active ingredients that directly targets the loss of cell energy in aging skin cells using energy glycol™ – a combination of botanical dermocosmetics that stimulates the skin’s powerhouses in order to regenerate skin cells, and to renew cell energy. In addition, it contains Tri-Peptide, derived from three amino acids that have been proven to stimulate collagen production.
Chelsea: Well the Perfect Renew Youth Serum does check the box of being a well formulated skincare product, but what about the ingredients? Can you tell us more about how it works for our skin?
Role of active ingredients for the skin
Dr.Teo: What we know about aging skin and the signs of aging skin related to skin sagging, loss of fullness, is directly related to loss of collagen in this second layer of the skin known as the dermis. Tripeptide is an evidence-based, active ingredient that can stimulate collagen production in aging skin to increase skin plumpness and fullness.
Importantly, there is the potent antioxidant complex, which contains acai berry Acerola extract. This mixture is from botanicals, and in this case, is rich in a certain active ingredient known as anthocyanins. It is part of a super berry complex, with its antioxidant effect proven to be 4 times more than vitamin C serums, which can overall increase the skin’s ability to target oxidative stress and fight free radical damage – which is the main cause of skin aging. This means that there is a reversal of skin damage, leading to skin brightening. In a clinical study performed by the Amorepacific research group on subjects, this serum was found to have improved 5 signs of early aging, which includes measurement of the “youth triangle” in a high definition, skin, and imagery measurement in just seven days.
Chelsea: You mentioned before that the Perfect Renew Youth Serum contains energy glycol™ extract, can you tell us more about that?
What is the energy glycol™ extract?
Dr.Teo: Going specifically into the science behind energy glycol™, it targets at the skin energy loss that occurs with aging skin cells. The interesting perspective in this research shows that wild white ginger roots contain a potent concentration of glucose, fructose, sucrose, mannose and galactose. Five sugar types that are concentrated in white ginger roots are grown in the wild. These five sugars are then extracted using pharmaceutical methods over 12 hours at low temperature to preserve the efficacy of the dermocosmetic ingredient.
We’re gonna talk about how the energy glycol™ complex directly regenerates aging cells using the study that was performed by Amorepacific. It demonstrates significant skin regeneration just within 24 hours of treatment with increasing doses of this white ginger root extract. The main area of activity is in the energy powerhouses of the skin cells – the mitochondria. Tripeptide is the second ingredient that we’re going to examine. Now peptides itself have gained more attention in the last decade, such as oligopeptides because of its ability to stimulate collagen production without the irritating side effects of retinoids.
Chelsea: Well I do know that peptides are naturally occurring in the skin. They are amino acids that make up certain proteins such as collagen in the skin. How do peptides work in skincare?
Function of peptides in skincare products
Dr.Teo: The French Tripeptide used in the Perfect Renew Youth Serum is an active ingredient that has been demonstrated to increase synthesis of procollagen, which is what we call a precursor molecule of collagen. This has resulted in increased skin firmness and improvement with significant increase in the measurement of procollagen itself when treated with 0.5% tripeptide. We’re now going to talk about the third final active ingredient, the superberry extract, which comprise of acerola and acai berry extracts that have been stabilized by specific siliceum capture technology™ patented by the Amorepacific R&D to deliver a more potent antioxidant effect.
Chelsea: Wow all these ingredients do have plenty of data backing them up! Apart from well-evidenced ingredients, are there any other factors that go into how effective a cosmeceutical product is?
What other factors contribute to the effectiveness of a product?
Dr.Teo: It’s very important to understand that the efficacy of your active ingredient is dependent on how stable the dermocosmetic is when it is stored, and when it is applied on skin. This is the key differentiating factor from conventional cosmetics. Dermocosmetics are produced in a highly controlled research environment that allows scientists to discover the best method for extracting, stabilizing and formulating the final cosmetic product.
Clinical studies that have been performed by the research group have demonstrated the objective improvements in a few parameters in the research performed, which showed that there was a reduction in five signs of skin aging. These include firmness, skin hydration levels, radiance which has to do with cell turnover, skin texture, including the appearance of pores and the presence of wrinkles.
In all five of these parameters, the skin measurements showed improvement in just seven days. In terms of further objective assessment, a unique pictorial method was developed by the research group on the appearance of youthful skin versus aged skin. This was defined as youth triangles, which essentially is a triangle that is clearly demarcated in youthful skin, but as one grows older, the triangles become enlarged and skewed to one direction. As a result, wrinkles develop.
Chelsea: I’ve always been really curious about how wrinkles form. I know it has something to do with repeated facial expressions such as smiling or squinting – does it mean that we shouldn’t have so many facial expressions – and try to keep a neutral face as much as possible?
How do wrinkles form?
Dr.Teo: Well Chelsea, that’s a brilliant perspective. However, I think it is good for us to be able to express ourselves naturally. We know that a lot of research in psychology and human perception actually links our body language – which includes our facial expressions – to how another person reacts to us. But for the purposes of this topic of wrinkles and aging, we have to understand that the development of wrinkles is primarily the result of a disconnect between the underlying muscles.
Your face contains the muscles of facial expression, the subcutaneous fat loss – the fat just under the skin- due to aging itself, as well as two layers of skin – the epidermis and the dermis. The youth triangle is specifically an epidermal sign. Whereas, the thinning of skin that results in the skewing of the youth triangle is a result of processes that occur in the subcutaneous fat, as well as in the dermis.
When the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin, the stratum corneum, we expect the dermocosmetics to act on the levels of the epidermis, improving skin radiance by regulating cell turnover, as well as improving the resilience of the dermis, which means that your overall skin will look more plump and elastic. These are hallmarks of youthful looking versus photo aged skin.
Chelsea: Well that’s it for today’s episode. We’ve talked about how the mitochondria plays an important role in cell energy and the health and appearance of our skin – especially when it comes to skin aging. We’ve also discussed how the LANEIGE Perfect Renew Youth Retinol Cream utilizes retinol to combat signs of skin aging, and essential tips on the do’s and don’ts of using this powerhouse anti-aging ingredient. We also talked about the importance of a well formulated skincare product, in addition to the evidence-based active ingredients it should contain.
Thank you for joining us today. You can follow Dr. Teo on Instagram @drteowanlin for more podcast updates, (check out Laneige website – laneige.com/sg) and make sure to check out www.scienceofbeauty.net for the full podcast transcript.
This podcast episode is sponsored by LANEIGE as a joint collaboration to create scientific educational content relevant to skincare and dermatology.