Skincare has become an essential daily routine that you can find many people sharing their special regimen on social media. You may already know the basics of it, which are to cleanse, tone, moisturize, and apply sunscreen. But other slightly complicated routines have additional steps to ensure clean, healthy, and youthful skin.
While it’s perfectly okay to stick with skincare fundamentals, you might want to try adding some new ingredients for better results. Retinol, in particular, is considered ‘the holy grail’ of skin-friendly components among skincare enthusiasts. Despite what others would say, it has several known benefits, and it’s pretty easy to incorporate into your routine.
This guide should help you understand retinol’s uses, advantages, and disadvantages and how to apply it to your skin correctly.
- What Is Retinol?
Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that prevents breakouts, speeds up the healing process, and naturally moisturizes the skin. Most people mistakenly interchange ‘retinol’ with ‘retinoid,’ but the former is only a type of the latter. However, unlike prescription retinoids, retinol is the milder variant, which makes it safe for regular skin application.
Many mass-produced skincare products have retinol as an ingredient. So, it’s easy to find a retinol serum or cream over-the-counter in cosmetics boutiques or online stores. Some come in higher price points, but you’ll still find options that can fit smaller budgets so that you can add retinol to your daily skincare routine.
- What Does It Do?
The older you and your skin get, the less Vitamin A your body produces. Babies and younger children have smooth skin, while those in their forties and up usually have fine lines on their faces. Fortunately, retinol can provide much-needed Vitamin A when you cannot make it yourself anymore.
People use retinol on their skin mainly because of its skin rejuvenating properties. Retinol is known to prevent wrinkle formation and promote collagen production. Hence, you’ll often find the ingredient in most anti-aging products.
Aside from slowing down the natural aging process of your skin, retinol also fades acne marks and other minor skin discolorations. So, those suffering from acne blemishes may find solace using a retinol product.
- Who Can Use It?
Anyone who wants to improve their skin and a younger appearance can freely use retinol. It’s generally safe for most skin types. However, people with sensitive or fair skin may need precautions. Retinol might be milder than its other retinoid counterparts, but it’s still quite potent and may cause side effects that could worsen the skin.
Despite retinol’s benefits, people with sun-damaged or over-exfoliated skin are recommended not to use it. The ingredient’s properties may induce irritation, itchiness, and the formation of scaly patches, especially if the formulation is potent. Pregnant women should also steer clear from it to avoid the high Vitamin A levels affecting the unborn child.
If you suffer from hormonal acne, your dermatologist may prescribe a retinoid or retinol cream to help control sebum production and unclog pores. Even if some retinol products are easily accessible over the counter, it’s best to always consult a professional before buying or using one.
- When Should You Use Retinol?
Dermatologists recommend retinol usage to people in their 20s and 30s since it’s during this age range that the skin’s collagen and cell production decreases. But teens can also apply it to their daily regimen, especially if they have persistent acne issues, which are typical for their age.
As long as you start seeing some fine lines forming on your face or even before that happens, you can begin to incorporate retinol creams into your skincare routine. Before purchasing any retinol-infused product, always know your skin condition and type and review all available options. You must find a product that’s best for your skin and worth your money.
- How Should You Apply It?
Once you’ve gotten a retinol cream or serum, you can start applying it to your face once a week first. Remember, retinol is a potent skincare ingredient. You still don’t know what it will do to your skin at this point. Also, retinol is recommended for night application since Vitamin A makes skin extra sensitive to sunlight and UV rays.
- Most retinol products will have instructions for correct use and good results, but for a more detailed guide, you can follow these steps:
- Thoroughly and gently wash your face with a cleanser and pat dry. Apply toner afterward, then eye cream to protect the sensitive undereye area.
- Just wait until your face is completely dry before putting retinol cream or serum on the skin. Once dry, apply a pea-sized amount of your retinol product all over your skin, starting from your chin. Then, gently spread upwards with your fingertips.
- Top it off with a hydrating moisturizer or night cream since retinol can be very drying to the skin
- If you’re applying retinol during the day, finish your skincare routine with broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen as needed within the day.
Take note that you should avoid using retinol together with products having alpha or beta hydroxy acids. These two are often indicated on labels as AHA and BHA, respectively. They can cause further irritation when applied with retinol since they’re chemical exfoliators. Always put on moisturizer, preferably with ceramides, afterward to strengthen the skin barrier.
A once-a-week application should help determine whether retinol works on your skin or not. You can increase usage to twice or thrice a week if no side effects occur.
Whether you have wrinkles or not, retinol is a fantastic skincare ingredient for anyone of any age. You won’t see results immediately, but with consistent use, you could get soft, supple, and clearer skin that could make you appear much more youthful than you are.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.