HOW TO USE RETINOL IN YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE
For those seeking the most powerful skin care ingredients, a common question often comes up: how do I use retinol? Before we go over how to use it: what is retinol and what does retinol do? The term is used to describe certain products containing vitamin A. Retinol is great for aging skin, acne and clogged pores because it increases collagen production and the skin cell turnover rate.
What Are the Benefits of Retinol?
The main benefits of retinol include:
- Better texture: Retinol can improve skin's texture, which means it's a great product for reducing fine lines and fading spots associated with aging skin. It works by speeding up the rate at which skin turns over and regenerates, which also increases collagen production.
- Acne reduction: Creams with retinol can help to control oily skin. Retinoids can unclog pores and clear away dead skin cells by turning over the skin. If you have acne scars, retinoids can reduce them too.
Best Retinol Products
When it comes down to how to use retinol, it all depends on which retinol product you choose for your skin care routine. Topical retinol options include:
- Retinol serums: If you're new to retinol, serums can be a great place to start. They're often very potent and easy to use. Start with a lower percentage of retinol and increase once your skin has built up a tolerance.
- Retinol oils: For dry or sensitive skin, retinol oils are great because they contain emollient ingredients, which can reduce the irritation and dryness that is often associated with retinol.
- Retinol creams: Creams with retinol are also a good option for people with sensitive or dry skin because they contain more nourishing, hydrating ingredients. Retinol lotions can help combat dryness and irritation.
- Natural retinol alternatives: While retinol is a synthetic derivative of vitamin A, certain plant-based, natural skin care products can achieve similar results. Look for products with the botanical extract bakuchiol, which has a collagen-stimulating and cell-turnover effect, or rosehip and carrot seed oil, which are naturally rich in vitamin A.
How to Start Using Retinol
Wondering when to start using retinol? It's a personal choice. It could be a good time to start if you suffer from breakouts and pigmentation or if you're seeing signs of aging. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Start by using a small pea-sized amount at night, twice a week.
- Once skin builds up more of a tolerance, you can use it more frequently.
- If your skin gets red, flaky or excessively dry, take a break for a few days.
- Use a moisturizer after you apply retinol—you can also mix the cream with your retinol to combat irritation.
- Always make sure to use sunscreen during the day because sun exposure breaks down retinoids and therefore reduces its effectiveness. (That said, sunscreen is always a good idea, whether or not you're using retinol.)
How Can I Tell if Retinol Is Working?
It can take anywhere from 12 weeks to a few months to see results. If you notice an improvement in your skin's texture, a healthier glow or an overall improvement in fine lines, dullness and acne, your retinol is probably working its magic.
Ready to incorporate retinol into the rest of your routine but still have some questions about how to do it? Read on for some of the most common retinol-related queries.
Is Retinol Safe?
Retinol is safe and many dermatologists highly recommend it. However, like any other powerful ingredient, you have to be careful about how you use it in order to avoid unwanted side effects like dry skin and flaking. Doctors caution against using retinoids if you're pregnant.
Can I Use Hyaluronic Acid with Retinol?
Yes. Think of these two ingredients as the perfect partners. They can be used synergistically for great results. Hyaluronic acid plumps and moisturizes the skin so that retinol has a less harsh, irritating effect. Apply retinoid first, then give it 10-20 minutes to settle in. Next, apply hyaluronic acid.
Can I Use Vitamin C with Retinol?
Yes. Vitamin C and retinol also work harmoniously in your skin care routine. They are both antioxidants but offer different benefits. Vitamin C helps prevent damage from environmental stressors and gives skin a healthy glow. Use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night to maximize benefits.
Can I Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol?
You can combine these two powerful ingredients, but you should be careful doing so because both of them can cause sensitivity and irritation. If you have acne and want to try both of these in your routine, it's recommended you use salicylic acid during the day and retinol at night. This will help cut down on irritation.
Can I Mix Niacinamide & Retinol?
These two ingredients can complement each other when used the right way. Niacinamide strengthens the skin's barrier and helps calm irritation. It can also improve texture and reduce enlarged pores. The trick is to use niacinamide first and let it sink in, then apply retinol.
Can I Use Retinol on Sensitive Skin?
Retinol can be used on most skin types, but people with sensitive skin might have more issues with inflammation. Consult a dermatologist if you have sensitive skin and always start out using small amounts.
Can Retinol Expire?
Yes. Retinol has an expiration date, so always check the date on the packaging before using it.
What Percentage of Retinol Is Good?
It depends on your skin. If you've never used retinol before or have dry or sensitive skin, start with around 0.025 percent. You can adjust this based on your skin's tolerance or skin type. Retinol can go as high as 2 percent, but you'll definitely want to get your skin used to it before trying stronger percentages.