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Essential Things to Know Before Using Retinol and Retinoids

What you should know about Retinol.

What you should know about Retinol.

Retinol, one of the most populary known important skincare ingredient. Retinol is widely known to help defend the skin against fine lines and maintaining a healthy glow. This makes it one of the very lauded ingredient in skincare.


Retinol, alongside other retinoids like retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid, is a derivative of Vitamin A, which is one of the body's key nutrient for boosting cell turnover.

Retinol is added to creams and serums. It has an anti- ageing effect or property that helps clear acne.

Retinol is a topical treatment, meaning you apply it on top of your skin.

Retinol comes in many forms, some of them which includes:

1. Lotions

2. Creams

3. Serums

4. Ointments

5. Gels

Importance of Retinol

Importance of Retinol


1. Retinol increases skin cell production (proliferation)

2. Retinol helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

3. Retinol helps in overall skin rejuvenation.

4. Retinol helps in unclogging your pores.

5. Retinol is a good anti-ageing Skincare ingredient.

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Using Retinol

Using Retinol


When starting out or trying out retinol for the first time, you need to keep two main guidelines in mind.

A. Start Slow

B. Use a Low Strength

You'll want to build up to more frequent use, so start by applying a pea-size amount of the product two to three times a week.

Retinol starts to work in your cells right away, but it will take several weeks before you see any improvements in the look and feel of your skin.

You should know that your skin condition may look worse at first as you adjust to the new regimen. If your skin seems to tolerate retinol well after 1 or 2 weeks of using it, you can then work your way up to applying the product every night, if needed. Less frequent application can still offer benefits, with a lower risk of side effects.

TIP: Retinol is better used at night if you're concerned about increased sun sensitivity.


The side effects from topical retinol are usually temporary. They include:

1. Itching or burning

2. Dry and irritated skin

3. Sunburn (increased sensitivity to sunburn)

4. Redness or flaky skin

Because Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sun, it is therefore important to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 everyday.

These side effects occurs as a result of first time introduction to new treatment. But the side effects should gradually fade away as you skin gets used to the new treatment.


Here is a good Retinol product you can try out.

1. CeraVe skin renewing night cream


Integrate Retinol slowly and gently.

"Balance is critical," cautions Bowe. "Retinol can be very irritating if used too frequently or if the formulation is too strong for your skin." She recommends starting off with a pea-sized amount of a low percentage over-the-counter formula (.01% to 0.03%), and using it "two times per week, slowly increasing the usage to give the skin a chance to acclimate." Moreover, you should skip your retinol product on the day before you exfoliate (Bowe recommends exfoliating two to three times per week). "Exfoliating is abrasive and irritating, and you do not want to compound the skin irritation by heightening your skin’s sensitivity," she says, adding that if you're getting certain in-office treatments like lasers, microneedling, microdermabrasion, you will want to take a break from your retinol. In the spirit of not overdoing it, there's a spate of new time-release formulas fit for skin types prone to redness or breakouts. "They're a good option for people who have sensitive skin," explains Fusco. "It releases the active ingredient over time and may offer less irritation."In terms of prescription retinol versus something over the counter, the former is much more potent with a higher percentage of retinol and one may graduate to it over time, says Bowe.

What are the different types of retinol products?

Medications that you put on your skin are called “topical.” There are many topical retinoid products available, including:

  • Adapalene (Differin®, Epiduo®).
  • Alitretinoin (Panretin®).
  • Bexarotene (Targretin®).
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac®, Avage®).
  • Tretinoin (Atralin®, Avita®, Refissa®, Renova®, Retin-A®, Tretin-X®).

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