Derm DMs: What Is Encapsulated Retinol?
Anyone well-versed in anti-aging skin-care products, has no doubt heard of retinol — one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients to help reduce the look of discoloration and fine lines. If you have sensitive skin, however, you might not be as keen on applying this powerhouse ingredient, simply because it could cause irritation and disrupt your skin’s barrier. The cosmetic gods have heard you, however, and blessed us with a version of retinol that might just be the answer to your concerns. Enter: encapsulated retinol. Unlike a typical retinol, encapsulated retinol works on a time-released basis to give you all the same benefits but with typically fewer side effects. We spoke with board-certified dermatologist Meghan Feely to understand exactly how encapsulated retinol works.
What is Encapsulated Retinol? How Does it Work?
According to Dr. Feely, encapsulated retinol is a version of retinol that envelops the ingredient in a protective barrier. “The objective is to increase the stability of retinol, enabling it to penetrate more deeply into the skin, while mitigating potential side effects,” she says. When applied onto the skin, encapsulated retinol travels through the skin’s layers in a delicate fashion — thanks to its moisturizing outer-coating — and time releases deposits of retinol throughout its journey.
Who Should Use Encapsulated Retinol?
Encapsulated retinol is best used for individuals who may experience a wide array of skin concerns. “These concerns include, but are not limited to, milia, acne, fine lines or an uneven skin-tone,” says Dr. Feely. Essentially, any and all skin-types can use encapsulated retinol, but if you want to be certain, head to your dermatologist to confirm if it’s right for you.
Can You Use Encapsulated Retinol with Other Retinol Products?
It’s especially important to note that you should not use two retinol products at once, advises Dr. Feely. “Using two products containing retinol on the same body site will increase the risk of side effects like redness, photosensitivity and skin irritation,” she adds. This means that sticking to one retinol product at a time is key.
How to Incorporate Encapsulated Retinol Into Your Routine
As far as incorporating encapsulated retinol into your routine, this is best done at night. “Use it in the evenings, and I generally advise using a pea-sized amount a few nights each week, building it up every evening as your skin learns to tolerate it,” says Dr. Feely. Our go-to encapsulated retinol products are the CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum and the Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask With Retinol. Both are extremely lightweight on the skin, very comfortable and don’t leave skin feeling dry or irritated. It’s also extremely important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher each and every day and be aware that retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. “Also note that retinols are not safe to use while pregnant, and if you are having a laser- or light-based procedure or are getting a wax, be sure to take a break from using it,” Dr. Feely adds.