Retinol on the back of the hand

How to Use Retinol: A Step by Step Guide

Everyone wants their skin to look and feel healthy. This desire has brought about a wide range of products using various chemicals and nutrients that aim to improve your skin.

Go to any pharmacy or beauty department and you'll find lists of ingredients, including aloe vera, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, peptides and more that claim to tighten, smooth and plump skin. Regardless, the overall goal is to make your skin look better than it did before you used it. 

Two of the most common types of products you'll see are retinol creams and retinol serums. But what is retinol?

Read on to learn how to use retinol safely and to see the best results. 

What is Retinol Good for?

Retinol is the chemical name for Vitamin A and has several different derivatives that all have different activity and bioavailability once penetrated into the skin. Some benefits include, stimulation of collagen production and your skin's recovery rate. It's a beneficial compound for most skin types, however for those with sensitive skin conditions, it's important to go slow and find the best formulation of Retinol for you. Not all Vitamin A's will suit, as well as not all Vitamin A formulations.

One of the most common uses for retinol is to turn back the clock and reverse visible ageing.

Retinoids boost basal cell mitosis which means that your skin will produce more skin cells essentially plumping up the layers of the epidermis, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles. They also have been known to stimulate new blood vessels formation in the skin. An integral part of the healing process when there is damage to repair.  They also work against irregular pigmentation formation in skin, helping to fade skin spots and soften rough patches of skin. 

However, overuse of retinol may cause skin dryness and irritation. Additionally, your skin can become sensitive to sunlight depending on the Retinoid used. There are incredible Vitamin A's on the market today that do not cause photosensitivity like some heritage formulations.

There are prescription retinoids available that require your doctor's approval. The type included in over-the-counter products aren't as strong or irritating. 

When considering retinol vs retinoid, keep in mind that a retinoid is prescribed by a doctor. You can buy retinol at most stores that stock skin products.

How to Use Retinol

Dark spots, acne-prone/congested skin, and fine lines/wrinkles are just a few of the different signs that it's time to start using face products. It's much easier to prevent problems from getting worse than to try and reverse the damage that's been done. 

How you use retinol will depend on the skincare product. You can find it in serums, lotions, creams, drops, and skin masks. 

When you start with a retinol treatment, always go for the most gentle formula available. Too strong a retinoid can irritate your skin and cause more damage. Build up to stronger formulations - this way your skin can build up tolerance and this will prevent irritation from going to hard too fast.

You should also only apply a small amount to freshly cleansed skin skin. Remember that Vitamin A's are hydrophobic, which means that prefer oily environments like the superficial layers of your skin. Damp skin may limit how much retinol is absorbed.

When ready, apply a pea-size amount into your fingertips and transfer to the face, neck and décolletage. Always start at your forehead, as the skin there can handle stronger doses. You can then spread the excess to your nose, cheeks, and chin. Careful not to apply too close to the eye, products applied to the orbital bone will travel to the eye-lid area, so no need to apply such a strong ingredient to these sensitive and thinner area's.

After your first application, wait several day's between retinoid use. Add an extra dose every other week moving forward, paying special attention to how your skin reacts to it. 

LaGaia Vitamin A Skin Regeneration Retinol Serum

How Often to Use Retinol

All skincare products are used differently. Lotions and creams are often applied on a daily basis. Meanwhile, face scrubs should be applied no more than twice a week. 

How often you should use retinol will depend on the product you're using. 

A body lotion with retinol usually has such a low concentration that you're safe to use it daily. Retinol face serums are more concentrated, requiring you to space out usage by a couple day's to begin. Retinol drops use more retinoids than other products, meaning you should start at once or twice a week maximum. 

As your body grows accustomed to the retinol products, you can always increase how often you use them. Again, pay attention to your skin. If you notice it growing more irritated, stop using the products and give your skin a rest. This can be a sign to reduce the frequency of use, or perhaps that the formulation is not correct for your skin. 

Benefits of Retinol Cream for Acne

Fighting acne can often be a lifelong struggle. Too gentle a cleanser may not remove all the built-up oils. Too strong a cleanser can irritate your skin, which causes more acne. 

Hyaluronic acid is one supplement that is often used to treat acne. It helps your skin hold onto water and protect your skin. Always apply this product to damp skin.

Retinol can help treat severe acne alongside hyaluronic acid by unclogging your pores through the increased proliferation (production) of new skin cells. They also prevent dead cells from re-clogging your pores while your other skincare products get to work, assisting skin to naturally shed or exfoliate dry cells. 

If you have oily skin, retinoid pills can reduce oil production and bacteria that cause acne. However, be careful with overusing the retinoids. Too much can cause redness and the possible worsening of your preexisting acne. Never use a retinol cream while on a retinoid prescription.

Using Retinol and Vitamin C

For the most part, retinol is safe when mixed with other ingredients. You'll often see it in serums combined with witch hazel, glycerin, and other various extracts. It mostly depends on how they interact with one another and the concentration of each ingredient.

For example, retinol works well with moisturizing ingredients due to its drying nature. It's also often paired with SPF, as retinoids in history have made the skin more vulnerable to sunlight. 

You should not mix retinol with vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide, though.

Vitamin C is used to help encourage new collagen production and lighten skinny preventing melanin production as well as assist with skin hydration. While neither of them works against one another, Vitamin C performs best in the daytime as a solo act. Retinol, meanwhile, works best overnight during your skin and bodies sleep cycle. Use in seaport routines morning or night or even on separate days.

Benzoyl peroxide and retinol do go against each other, though. They both cancel each other's effects out, causing irritation, inflammation and dehydration in skin. Rendering both less effective than if used separately. 

Find the Best Retinol Cream

It's not easy to figure out how to use retinol to get the best results. Do you get a serum to add to your routine, or do you replace your face lotion with a retinol cream?

Check out our collection online for retinol products and more. You can also contact us if you have any questions or need specialist skincare advice. 

1 comment

  • Kay

    Hi ,,I was told recently to apply a serum under my retinol cream at night supposed to work better , do you think it’s necessary

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