What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a superstar ingredient that has proven science and efficacy when it comes to skin health and anti-aging and skin care lovers throughout Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore and Banff are catching on to the amazing benefits of incorporating retinol into their skin care regime.

What is retinol? 

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A or retinoid. Retinol products have different classifications: over-the-counter (OTC) products, medical-grade OTC products, and prescription-only products. Products containing retinol generally work in the same way, but there are a few key differences between the three.

  • OTC or drugstore retinol products are usually gentle on the skin and cause less irritation, redness and flaking than their medical-grade OTC or prescription counterparts.  Many OTC retinols contain ester-forms of retinol and  don’t list the strength of the retinol featured in the product. These forms of retinol are less effective than retinol in its pure form and don’t usually offer significant changes in the skin.
  • Medical-grade OTC retinols yield great results and are usually safe to use both daily and long-term. Products like Vivier’s 0.3% Retinol SR Complex or Retinol 1% Night Complex use retinol in its most active form and indicate the strength on the packaging. These are the two most important factors in choosing retinol:
      1. Ingredient list – Is the word “retinol” listed?
      2. Is the % strength of retinol disclosed somewhere on the packaging?
  • Prescription-grade retinoid products, like Retin-A, are the strongest of the three. While prescription-grade retinols can offer quicker, more transformative results, it is also often met with negative side effects such as significant irritation, redness, and peeling of the skin. These are typically reserved for more aggressive cases and for a limited amount of time.

When selecting a retinol product, it is important to choose a medical-grade OTC product because it offers efficacy and results with less irritation and peeling.

What does retinol do for my skin? 

Retinol is a multi-functional ingredient that plays 3 key roles in anti-aging and maintaining smooth, youthful, clear skin.

Retinol helps to stimulate and boost the production of collagen.
It’s been proven to increase the number of fibroblast cells, which we lose over time and are key to collagen production.

Retinol accelerates the cellular turnover of our skin by up to 6 times its normal rate. 
Our cellular turnover rate slows down drastically over time which plays a huge role in aging of the skin. When we increase this process, we see improved tone, texture, and clarity of our skin with decreased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinol is an extremely important ingredient for anyone with acne and clogged pores.
The increased cellular turnover purges the skin of impurities, clearing out  pores. Retinol also works to regulate sebum production and to control inflammation.

What makes Vivier retinol products different?

Vivier’s retinol products are expertly formulated for optimal efficacy and results using a combination of powerful ingredients:


Vivier’s retinol products contain retinol in its active form and use a microencapsulation technique which means the retinol is slowly released into the skin, which allows for less reaction and sensitivity in the skin.

Slow-release technology

Vivier’s retinol is released slowly throughout the entire night, which offers continuous benefit to the skin the entire time it undergoes its natural regenerative and restorative processes overnight.


Vivier products also feature antioxidant powerhouses Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which fight free-radical damage caused by UV exposure, stress, pollution, poor diet, and other environmental agents.

Added moisturizing ingredients like Shea butter and Argan oil 

These moisturizing agents work to increase and protect the moisture content in the skin. With continued and regular use, retinols actually work to prevent water-loss in the skin; however, initially some people report dryness and flaking in their skin while it’s acclimating to retinol. The added Shea Butter and Argan Oil in Vivier retinol means that you will get the effectiveness of retinol with minimal dryness and flaking.


Squalene is a fatty molecule found naturally in the skin that is highly versatile. According to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian, “It maintains skin’s moisture barrier and hydration, and is also an antioxidant that has anti-aging properties for neutralizing environmental damage,” as told to Health.com. We start to lose our natural squalene between ages 20 and 30, so it’s important to supplement the ingredient through topical products. (Quick note on the difference between squalane and squalene: Squalene with an “e” is the lipid that our skin produces naturally; squalane with an “a” is the stable form of the molecule used in skincare products.)

Vivier Retinol

Vivier 0.3% Retinol SR Complex – microencapsulated Retinol slow release

0.3% Retinol SR Complex

A great option for those who are sensitive to retinol and is also a great place to start for anyone looking to begin using retinol. Most people see great results and it is safe enough to use daily. If your skin tends to react or become irritated with new skin care products, start with this product and after some time you can graduate to the Vivier Retinol 1% Night Complex once your skin has become accustomed.

Vivier Retinol 1% Night Complex

Vivier Retinol 1% Night Complex – with microencapsulated Retinol 1% slow release

Retinol 1% Night Complex

Features 1% retinol, which is a stronger more effective dose, but yet still gentle enough for daily use without any down-time. It is a step-up when graduating from the 0.3% Retinol SR Complex or for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin who require a stronger dose of retinol.

How to apply?

For any retinol product, it’s important to slowly let you skin acclimate to the ingredient to minimize irritation, flaking and redness. Start by applying a pea-sized amount every other night. Start at the outer edged of your jaw and hairline and work the product towards the center of your face. Try pressing the product into your skin vs. rubbing to minimize pulling and friction on your skin. After 2-3 weeks, you may work up to every night. Retinol can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn so use your retinol at night and always use a broad-spectrum SPF during the day to protect your skin.

Retinol is so highly regarded in the skincare space because of the many benefits it provides to the skin including: diminished appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increased smoothness and luminosity, fewer breakouts and blemishes, refined pores, brightening of dark spots and increased evenness of skin tone. After 3-6 weeks of use you will begin to notice the positive changes to your skin that retinol can bring. With long-term and continued use (3-6+ months), you can expect even more improvement.

If you are interested in learning more about Viver® Pharma, purchase Vivier® Pharma products or book a consultation, please complete our online form, call us, or email us at office@radianceplasticsurgery.ca.


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