Cosmetics and skincare products purchased without prescriptions use either retinol or retinyl palmitate as the active ingredient.
Even if they’re milder than retinoids, they’re still powerful and your skin needs to build tolerance to them.
- Do a Patch Test
It is highly recommended to do a patch test when using retinol for the first time. Put a small amount of retinol serum or cream behind your ear just below your jaw or inside your arm above your wrist and observe this area for about 12-24hrs and proceed to use on face if there is no irritation.
- Apply on Clean Skin
For the first few weeks, use mild face cleanser and dry your skin before applying retinol. An exfoliating cleanser might irritate your skin at first but you can use this as your skin adapts to retinol. For instance a glycolic face wash or toner helps with mild chemical exfoliation and would work well with your retinol products once your skin adapts. Physical exfoliants like scrubs might also make your skin more irritated so avoid these as well as your skin adjusts to retinol.
- Start Slowly
Start by using retinol serum or cream once every 2-3 days at night. Users get different reactions so it is advisable to start slowly to minimize any chances of irritation or immediate dryness.
Repeat this for about 1-2 weeks and observe how your skin reacts. Decrease frequency when you feel like it’s too much and adjust accordingly as your skin adapts.
After 4-6 weeks of use, you should be seeing benefits and you will already have an idea of how your skin it tolerating retinol products.
The goal is to train your skin to respond perfectly to a nightly dose of retinol. After 8-12 weeks your skin will have built tolerance and the real results will kick in and show fully at this point.
- Use Once Daily at Night Only
Double the dosage does not mean double the results. It may actually double the risk of irritation, redness and dryness.
Why use retinol at night? This is because retinol (the Vitamin A molecule) is very sensitive and breaks down in sunlight so using it at night ensures you get the full benefits of retinol in its active form.
Use a hydrating moisturizer during the day and an antioxidant serum to keep your skin protected and glowing.
- Use a Sunscreen during the Day
Why do you need sunscreen during the day when using retinol? This is because retinol increases cell turnover which means increased cell renewal and exfoliation (sort of behind the scenes as you may not see this on the skin surface). This makes your skin more sensitive to the sun.
How Exactly? New vulnerable skin cells are coming to the surface of the skin at a faster rate and you have to protect them to make sure sun damage does not undo the good effects of retinol which you have worked so hard to achieve over the months.
Retinol is a miracle worker and a must have for anyone who wants to keep looking youthful. Once you have built tolerance and your skin cells adapt to retinoic acid, keep using and enjoy the benefits of wrinkle-free glowing supple skin.
It is important to use retinol properly to maximize the results and reduce the side effects. Consistency is key when it comes to retinol use—and with a high quality retinol product, you should expect to see results in about 12 weeks (3 months). It may seem scary and results may seem to take forever, but with patience, caution, and commitment it can do remarkable things for your skin.