Submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page:
You mention that [retinol creams] should be used within 1 month because retinol break down quickly if it is exposed to air or light…does this mean the retinol is actually breaking down every single time I open the container? Doesn’t that mean by 1 month, the retinol will be very, very reduced?
Yes, in fact, retinol does break down every time you open the container. So often, in fact, that early research determined retinol was not effective, when later it was found that the retinol in question had simply been exposed to too much light before testing. Other studies, such as this 2004 study in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, have shown retinol also becomes unstable in the presence of too much oxygen. So both light and air cause retinol to break down into an oxidized species.
After a month of use, your retinol cream will undoubtedly have less potency than when it is first opened. That’s just the nature of the beast, sorry. However, if your retinol cream contains other antioxidants, is encapsulated in liposomes, or packaged in a light-protective container, then your retinol will have degraded far less than otherwise. If you’re not sure what to look for in packaging, one of my all-time favorite dermatologists, Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. says on her Skin Type Solutions website that both Neutrogena Healthy Skin and RoC Retinol are examples of creams that are packaged properly. I would also add that an airtight pump, like in Green Cream or Skinceuticals Retinol Creams, are excellent choices.
So yes, unfortunately, retinol does break down into inactive oxidized products after prolonged exposure to light and air. For best results, select a retinol cream with the right formulation and packaging, keep your retinol stored in a dark place, and seal it tightly after each use.
Hope this helps,
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