Retinol Rules to Follow for Beautiful Skin

Go to any dermatologist or aesthetician, and one of their first skincare recommendations is to add in retinoids like retinol or retin-A to your routine. They swear by it for anti-aging purposes and to clear up blemish-prone skin. But there are a few tips you should know if you use it – here are some dos and don’ts to follow.

Image: Yo Derm

DO: START SLOW

It takes your skin a while to get used to Retinol, or retin-A. When you start to use it, you’ll notice your skin is irritated, red, and flaky. But a way to minimize these effects is to ease into it. Los Angeles aesthetician Vanessa Hernandez recommends you start by mixing a pea-size amount with your moisturizer and applying it a few times a week. If your skin is extra sensitive, start with just once a week and then slowly add more days in.

DON’T: FORGET THE SPF

Retinol makes your skin extra sensitive to the sun. So you absolutely should use SPF every single day, even if it’s cloudy. Go for SPF 30 or higher and don’t forget to reapply every two hours. Try this sunblock that brushes on to make application even easier!

DO: ONLY USE IT AT NIGHT

The vitamin A in retinol gets broken down when it’s exposed to the sun’s UV rays, making it less effective. Plus, you’ll be more at risk for sun damage and burns if you apply it in the morning since retinol makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.

DON’T: MIX WITH OTHER ACTIVE PRODUCTS

Never mix benzoyl peroxide and retinol. They’re both drying and exfoliating ingredients, so mixing them together can cause excessive peeling, hyperpigmentation, and redness. You should also avoid using alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic, salicylic, and lactic at the same time as retinol because it can make your skin too sensitive. Instead, use retinol at night and AHAs in the morning to minimize sensitivity. If your skin is still too sensitive, stop using AHAs all together. You’ll still see beautiful results with just retinol!

DON’T: USE BEFORE WAXING, LASERS, OR CHEMICAL PEELS

Before aggressive treatments like waxing, lasers, and chemical peels, always stop using retinol for at least 72 hours. That said, make sure to check with a physician to know exactly how long you should wait because it varies depending on the treatment. 

DON’T: USE WHEN PREGNANT

There are a lot of things you can’t do when you’re pregnant, and retinol is one of them. While the odds are slim, there’s a risk of birth defects if used when pregnant.

DO: STICK WITH IT

When you see irritation and flaky skin, your first instinct will be to stop using retinol all together. But trust us, your skin will get used to it after a while and you’ll start seeing the benefits. “Long-term, consistent use of retinol is how it will create change in your skin, so if you can’t commit, don’t waste your time because it won’t be effective and you’ll be wasting your money, ” says Austin, TX aesthetician Renee Rouleau. That clear, smooth skin with smaller pores will be worth all the trouble!

While these are the main ones, there are still other restrictions for retinol use. Be sure to consult with your physician before starting to get all the information you need to know.

Have you tried retinoids like retinol or retin-A? Tell us in the comments!

Main Image: Philosophy