Your ultimate guide to using Retinol for your best skin ever


retinolSource: Daxiao Productions / Shutterstock

Without fail, every dermatologist we talked to before years have prepared us to use retinol (aka retinoids, Retin-A, graniva retinoids). Whether we ask for advice on dealing with oily skin, acne, uneven skin tone, aging or how to get a healthy, glowing skin, they will always name drop this miracle ingredient and insist that retinol is the answer to all our skin care problems. Think of it as Beyoncé in the skin care world – a skin care star.

But with any skin care cure-all, many issues and inevitably come a little confusion. So it is important to know the basics: what it is, how it works, when to use it, as well as the answers to the more complicated issues, like wtf is the difference between retinoid and retinol? We spoke with two expert dermatologists for the full low level: Dr. Doris Day celeb dermatologist and author of Beyond Beautiful, and NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Shereene Idriss, specializing in facial aesthetics and rejuvenation. Here is everything you need to know:

What is retinol?

Retinol and Retin-A are a form of vitamin A. They are called retinoids, but they are a slightly different type of vitamin A. Day explains that there are "several forms of vitamin A used in skin care products, the most common types being retinol, retinyl esters (eg retinylacetate, retinylpropionate and retinyl palmitate) and retinaldehyde. These are the ingredients you can see on the list on the label."

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How does retinol work?

Dr. Day explains that "retinols act on specific receptors or targets in the skin, helping to promote more normal maturation of skin cells. They also promote collagen production and lots of other healthy processes in different layers of skin to help your skin look and feel. look fresh, smooth and even in tone. Idriss adds "In the long run, it gives a clearer and harder skin color. It works on all skin tones and types but should be carefully introduced into your treatment, especially if you have sensitive skin."

How does retinol work for acne, aging and hyperpigmentation?

Acne: "Retinol is not an antibiotic, but what makes it in acne is to help the skin cells that lead the pores to metabolism more normally, helping to avoid clogged pores and this helps prevent pimples and blackheads of acne. It works well with others acne treatments to help cleanse the skin, treat existing pimples and prevent new pimples, Dr. Day says. Talk to your doctor about a Retin A prescription (Tretinoin), as this is the most effective form of retinoids for the treatment of acne.

Sun damage / wrinkles: According to Dr. Day, "Retinols can help reduce skin damage. It helps" thicken "the deeper layers of the skin, increase collagen production, and it also blocks an enzyme called collagenase triggered by the sun to break down collagen. . "

hyperpigmentation: "Retinols can act on different pathways of pigmentation and normalize these pathways as well as normalizing skin cell turnover. These effects lead to smoother, smoother skin tone and radiant skin. I also recommend retinol to my patients with sensitive skin and rosacea. I carefully choose the formulation and combine it With other ingredients to minimize redness and optimize results, the skin remains and looks young and beautiful, Dr. Day tells us.

Top Tips: It is also a good idea to add other antioxidants such as peptides, growth factors and vitamin C to improve the effect of retinol on the skin.

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How often should you use retinol?

Dr. Idriss says that "It is important that you slowly build up a tolerance to the retinol by starting once or twice a week for two weeks and then slowly adding one day every two weeks until you feel you can tolerate it." "A certain amount of irritation and redness is considered normal, especially during the first few weeks of any retinol. If you experience it, it should be mild and manageable. It should not be so red or spotted that it can be seen across the room."

Top Tips: Dr. Idriss says, "It's just as important that you understand your own face and learn where you can tolerate your face. For example, despite having built a tolerance, I can't personally use it around my mouth because it always leads to extremely flaky and flushing. "

When to start using retinol?

When you introduce retinol into your regime (which VAT should be in the 20's), an appeal product is good, but when you turn 30, most dermatologists recommend a retinoid with prescription strength.

When to Use Retinol?

Retinols should typically be applied at night as the active ingredient is sensitive to light. Men Dr. Day told us that "any retinol is photostabilized and can be used during the day, but it should be written on the package, so you know it's okay to use during the day."

Dr. Days fave retinol products:

retinolSource: Olay, Neutrogena, philosophy

  1. Olay Eyes Pro-Retinol Cream Treatment For Crows Feet, $ 33: Parasitized with antioxidant-rich niacinamide, this retinol struggles with its feet in just four weeks.
  2. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Regenerating Cream $ 28: A hydrating, retinol enriched formula that can be used twice daily for quick results.
  3. Philosophy Anti-Wrinkle Miracle Worker, $ 24: A fusion of anti-wrinkle retinol and a complex of peptides, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C raises this formula.

Does retinol dry out your skin and is it normal?

In short, yes, but first in the beginning. Dr Doris assures us that "When you first start using retinoid, you may experience exfoliation as part of that process, even if it is not exfoliating. For example, glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid or other exfoliating ingredients make the skin cells less sticky by loosening the adhesive Retinols do not have the same effect, but retinols help to normalize skin cell turnover, which can initially cause scalding because the skin cells normalize and mature, and then release more appropriately. to slow down or stop, and the skin looks softer and radiant. If you continue to exfoliate, you may need to switch to another formulation of retinol or increase the moisture with it. "

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Does this mean that you should not use an exfoliator and retinol together?

Dr. Doris says "You may need to exfoliate less often because the stratum corneum (the ultimate layer of dead skin cells that can stack up and make your skin become dull) becomes more compact and softer when you use retinoids. Depending on skin thickness, overall skin quality and Other conditions may also consider switching to more cautious lactic acid or fatty acids instead of glycolic acid. " Idriss says "I recommend that you exfoliate on the days you do not use any retinol to minimize any irritation."

What is the difference between handicap retinol and prescription retinol?

All skin care products are not created the same, which means that some products will have a stronger form of retinol and others will have a higher concentration. You can see it listed as granular retinoid, retinol or Retin-A. Retinoid is the name of the active ingredients, retinol and Retin-A are different concentrations of retinoids: retinol is the weakest form that you can get across the counter. Here's the breakdown:

retinol: Retinol is the weakest form of retinoids (it is still strong in comparison to other skin care products), but it is also most easily tolerated by the skin. Retinol needs time to be converted to retinoic acid (the active form of vitamin A) when it comes into contact with the skin. This makes retinol the mildest retinoid, but also the most well-tolerated of the skin.

The retina (also known as tretinoin): This usually occurs in acne and aging formulas in prescription form. Unlike retinol, Retin-A does not need to be degraded by the enzymes in the skin, as it is directly converted to retinoic acid. This makes it about 20 times stronger than retinol.

The main retinol rule:

Every dermatologist emphasizes the importance of using an SPF! Because Retinol helps your skin become younger and healthier, the skin is more sun-sensitive. Dr. Day says: "It is always important to use sunscreen and was sun-protected every day of the year to prevent wrinkles, spotted skin and skin cancer. This is the only important way to make sure you age beautifully." Idriss agrees that retinol "can make you a bit more sun-sensitive, but whatever you should always practice sunscreen methods and apply at least 30 SPF 30 daily"

Dr. Sports Video Retinol Products:

retinolSource: Skinceuticals, SkinMedica, Clark's Botanicals,

How do you tell the difference between retinal cleansing and an outbreak?

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Cleaning is a skin process that often occurs when you start using an exfoliating product that encourages cellular cell turnover, so when you start using a retinol, cleansing is very common. For the first week, when your cell turnover intensifies (this is good), your pores will dim (again this is good), but it may feel and look like your skin breaks out. Therefore, it is important to introduce retinol gradually into your regime. A cleansing is often mistaken for a breakout; The difference is that there will be a "cleansing" almost immediately after you use retinol and will be widespread, while a breakout will occur in groups. A cleansing should not be longer than two weeks, if it does, check in with your dermatologist and stop using the product.

Our fave retinol products:

retinolSource: SkinCeuticals, Roc, Inkey List

  1. Skin Ceuticals 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream, $ 82: A supercharged retinol formula to treat everything!
  2. Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $ 23: The first drug store retinol that promises to reduce expression lines and deep wrinkles for 12 weeks!
  3. Inkey List Retinol, $ 13: An Affordable But Effective 1% Retinol Serum. Read the full review.

How to Use Retinol – Key Takeaways:

  • Retinoids are the star of the skin care world and can help improve enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation, acne, fine lines and scarring.
  • Start your retinoid journey with a retinol without washing before going for a prescription.
  • If you have sensitive skin or eczema history, stick with retinol and slowly introduce it to your routine.
  • Be prepared for a potential cleansing or peeling process when you start using retinol.
  • Always use sunscreen when using retinol; at least SPF 30 with a 4-star UVA rating or higher.
  • Use retinol only at night unless otherwise stated.
  • If you are still unsure what to start with, first check with your dermatologist.

Have you tried retinol before? Let us know if you have any further questions in the comments below.