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Is the anti-aging ingredient retinol worth all the hype? You better believe it!
One of the most potent anti-agers on the market was discovered by accident. Twenty-five years ago, dermatologists noticed that retinol, an acne treatment, also reduced fine lines, refined large pores and reversed sun damage. But there was a catch: The vitamin-A derivative also irritated skin, causing dryness and redness. As a result, many women were reluctant to add it to their skin-care regimens.
Today, however, retinol comes in a variety of formulations and strengths, so you can get the benefits without the irritation, says Dr. Paul Cohen, a dermatologist at Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "The industry has come a long way," he says. Here's how you can take advantage of modern retinol.
Retinoid: A vitamin-A derivative available only by prescription.
Retinol: An over-the-counter derivative of vitamin A, found in concentrations of up to one percent.
Microencapsulation: This delayed-release delivery can help prevent skin irritation.
"Skin has its own natural renewal process, but as we age, skin renews itself less often," explains Dr. Cohen. "This results in the early signs of aging," including fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin A, either in an over-the-counter retinol or a a prescription retinoid, works by "stimulating cell turnover to help skin repair itself," says Dr. Cohen. The result: diminished fine lines and wrinkles, a more even skin tone and a finer texture.
Finding your formulation
Retinol is available in cream, gel and serum form. Whichever you choose, consider the overall strength of the product. For over-the-counter retinol, one percent is the highest strength allowed by Health Canada, but stronger isn't always better. "You don't necessarily have to go to that one-percent level in order to reach the results you want," says Kirk Brierley of RoC Skincare. If you're concerned about sensitivity, consider a lower strength that will deliver retinol to the skin in a more gentle manner. You can also try microencapsulated retinol, which is gradually released into the skin.
The perfect application
The best time to apply retinol will depend on the product. Serums should be applied immediately after cleansing, and creams after serum. Dr. Cohen recommends using a pea-size amount of retinol every other night to start, and eventually upping application to every night. "If your face gets red and itchy, or if it peels or burns, skip retinol for a day or two," he says. You can also apply a layer of moisturizer before your retinol; it will act as a barrier, keeping skin hydrated and reducing the risk of irritation. Finally, despite what you may have heard, retinol won't sensitize your skin to sun exposure. UV rays do, however, destabilize retinol, rendering it ineffective. So as long as you wear sunscreen every day (which you should in any case), retinol is your anti-aging friend.
Retinol, along with peptides and civitamin C, helps promote tissue regeneration around the delicate eye area.
This rich cream smooths lines and wrinkles while providing serious moisture.
Time-released technology gradually delivers retinol to the skin, minimizing fine lines and discolouration with less irritation.
Formulated with fast-working sustained-action retinol and moisture-rich hyaluronic acid, this serum is quickly absorbed.
Containing vitamins C and E and slow-release microencapsulated retinol, this serum encourages skin renewal.
A combination of retinol and Nia-114 (a form of vitamin B3) strengthens the skin's moisture barrier while combating fine lines and brightening skin tone.
Fruits to eat for weight loss. Credits: Getty Images
Fruit gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. Here's why avocado, dragon fruit, coconut, kiwi and even banana—yes, banana—are all diet foods.Fruit can be a real pleasure when you're cutting back on calories—it's wholesome, nutritious and provides a sweet hit of pleasure. A few surprising fruits even come with weight loss benefits.
Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
— Dr. Arya Sharma, founder of the Canadian Obesity Network and professor at the University of Alberta
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
— Casey Berglund, registered dietitian and owner of worthyandwell.com, Calgary