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Le rétinol, un actif exfoliant ?

Is retinol an exfoliating agent?

Published January 6, 2023, updated on February 20, 2024, by Stéphanie, Doctorate in Life and Health Sciences — 2 min read

What do we mean by "exfoliant"?

An active ingredient is classified as an exfoliant when it has the ability to remove dead cells accumulated on the surface of the epidermis, either through circular movements on the skin (salt, baking soda, fruit kernel powder...), or chemically by dissolving and detaching the cells by breaking the hydrogen bonds that bind them together (fruit acids, fruit enzymes).

Can we say that retinol is an exfoliating agent?

Retinol is not an exfoliant per se. This misconception may stem from the fact that some people report a slight peeling of the skin when using this active ingredient, but this is solely because retinol can dry out the skin if used at a high concentration without the skin having acclimated. Similarly, others claim that their skin has become thinner since using a retinol treatment.

But in reality, retinol induces an acceleration of the natural process of skin cell renewal, thereby slowing down the skin's regeneration cycle. This property of retinol allows for a rapid elimination of cells from the superficial part of the epidermis, leading one to believe that it acts on the horny layer by dislodging dead cells.


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