How to use Retinol like a Pro - PureSkin Dermatology

How to use Retinol like a Pro

Retinols are a form of vitamin A that reduce wrinkles, fine lines, acne, large pores and more. It’s no wonder it is a Derm favourite! Retinols are a type of retinoid that is available over the counter while other retinoids are by prescription. Typically, prescription retinoids are more concentrated with higher potency active ingredients, which can be potentially more irritating.

Retinols and retinoids work by increasing skin cell turnover, unclog pores, induces collagen production, which leaves the skin glowing, with reduced signs of pigmentation, acne and aging.

Retinols start to work immediately but it may take many weeks before you notice a significant difference. Patience, it is worth the wait!

Despite its benefits, it can take a little finesse to ensure your skin can tolerate a retinol. Here are our recommendations on how to use retinols like a pro: 

  1. Cleanse the skin with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. If you’ve had irritation from retinols in the past, consider waiting 30 minutes after washing your face before applying your retinol, as any moisture on the skin can potentially cause more irritation.
  2. Use a pea sized amount.  A little goes a long way, so using a pea sized amount for the hole face is more than enough.  Dot 5 areas on your cheeks (forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks) and blend.  Make sure to avoid sensitive areas such as the eyes and mouth.
  3. Moisturize.  Use a facial moisturizer that is non comedogenic (won’t block your pores), and apply a thin layer all over the face.  Still feeling irritated? Consider a sandwich! Applying moisturizer before and after helps to reduce irritation, without decreasing your retinol’s efficacy.
  4. Start slow. Be patient. Retinols are a lifelong love affair, so start slow by using it every other night and the increase or decrease based on tolerability. For some even once a week is enough, but stay consistent.
  5. SPF.  Retinols may increase your risk of sunburns, so be sure to wear a sunscreen daily and avoid direct sunlight.

How do you combine retinols with other active ingredients in your skin care routine? We’ve got you covered:

  • Glycolic Acid.  Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid and a chemical exfoliant for the skin, which helps lighten pigment and scars. If used with retinols, can be quite irritating, so we recommend using glycolic acid and retinols on alternating nights, or using the glycolic acid in the AM and your retinol in the PM.
  • Hyaluronic Acid.  Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring moisturizer in our skin. It works by pulling water to the skin, resulting in hydrated and plump skin. It is a great moisturizer to use either before or after retinols to help reduce irritation.
  • Niacinamide. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide has been touted for its efficacy in treating acne and anti-aging properties. It can be used at the same time as your retinol, an in fact can help reduce its irritant potential.
  • Vitamin C. We’ve said it before and will say it again, Vitamin C should be a staple in your skincare routine. It works to lighten pigmented spots, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention its antioxidant properties which reduce free radical damage, leading to more even and toned skin. However, it is best to separate these powerhouse ingredients, as they don’t play well together. When Vitamin C is used in the AM and retinol in the PM, your skin will be singing.