Retinol is often praised as a holy grail of a skincare ingredient, but there's a lot of confusion about the best ways to use retinol for maximum effectiveness without irritation. Understanding retinol better and having common questions answered can help you use this ingredient so your skin can look its best.
"Retinol is a prized skincare ingredient because it is well studied to treat several skin conditions," said dermatologist Dr. Chris Tomassian. "Because it works by increasing cell turnover, it has the ability to improve skin texture and hyperpigmentation as well as help treat and prevent acne. Due to its ability to increase collagen and elastin production, it also helps with fine lines and wrinkles and can improve scarring.
"Luckily, you don't need a prescription for retinol that actually works, nor do you have to break the bank. Retinol is available in a variety of drugstore products, but it can be confusing to decide the most effective options and best practices for use," he said.
Tomassian wants to help by sharing his expertise and answering the top questions he hears from patients, so everyone has the facts.
If skin goes dry, should you say goodbye?
Some people may experience minor drying at first, but this is typically nothing to worry about. This indicates the product is working and the skin cells are turning over faster. Dryness should subside as your skin adjusts. Keep in mind when selecting a retinol that some products are created to have little to no irritation, so you might consider trying those first.
Should retinol be the first or last layer?
It can depend on your skin's unique needs, but it's typical to apply retinol first and then layer a moisturizer on afterward. If your skin is dryer, consider applying the moisturizer first and then the retinol product. You can also sandwich your retinol product between two layers of moisturizer.
A little or a lot — what's the right amount?
Too much can be irritating and too little won't be effective. Try perfectly premeasured doses like RoC RETINOL CORREXION Night Serum Capsules. Made with a high concentration of pure RoC Retinol and Antioxidants, this clinically proven serum is sealed tight in a 100% biodegradable capsule for optimal freshness and potency.
Are one-day results a reality?
Results can vary by product and usage. For RoC's Retinol Night Serum Capsules, in one night, 97% of users had visibly reduced lines and wrinkles. In four weeks, 100% continued to show significant reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles, 100% had visibly firmer skin, and 100% had more supple, hydrated skin.
Morning, noon or night — when's the best time to use retinol?
This is dependent on the retinol you're using. Some forms of retinol, like tretinoin, are not UV stable which means they are inactivated by the sun. To be safe, dermatologists recommend using them at night before bed. This allows the product to work on the delicate skin on your face while you are sleeping and be most effective when you're out of the daylight.
Should your retinol routine take a summer break?
Retinol may make your skin more susceptible to sunburn, but that doesn't mean you need to stop it during summer months or other periods you'll be spending more time outdoors. Just be sure to apply SPF 30 or higher, and you may want to keep sunglasses and a hat handy for extra protection if needed. "The hype is real about retinol, but to get the maximum benefits you need to use the right amount in the right way," Tomassian said.
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