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What Is Retinol? A Beginner's Guide Part 3

Posted by Dan Narsete on

Retin-A. Renova. Retinol. No matter which one you pick, your skin will appreciate the collagen boosting, wrinkle plumping, acne fighting properties that come along with consistent usage. In this final installment of our retinol series, we'll help you add it to your routine in a way that makes it more effective and easier to tolerate. 

Which Strength of Retinol Do You Need?

If you've ever embarked on an exercise routine and overdid it on day one, then you know the value of pacing yourself and easing into it. Using retinol works much the same way. Medical grade retinol, such as SkinMedica and Replenix, offer concentrations aimed at getting your skin acclimated to the product over time. Starting with a formulation of .025% or .02% is the perfect way to ease your skin into accepting retinol on a regular basis. Over the course of 6–12 months, you can incrementally increase the dosage as desired.

How to Apply Retinol for Best Results

Retinol should be used in the evening after washing your face. Make sure your skin is completely dry before applying it as this will decrease the likelihood of irritation (because wet skin draws topical products in deeper). Unlike most facial products, retinol's concentration is specifically formulated to work without requiring a lot of product. You only need a pea-sized amount to treat your entire face, which is great news for your wallet. Start off by using it every few nights to see how your skin responds. According to Dr. Amy Paul, DO, our Board Certified Dermatologist, "When you start using retinol, you may experience minor irritation. The skin eventually gets used to the dryness and erythema (redness) if you take the time to start slowly and don't overdo it." If you don't experience any uncomfortable side effects, you can begin using it more often. Don't be dismayed if it takes a few months to work up to nightly use, though. Patience is key, and there's no need to rush the process. Remember, "good things come to those who wait."

Important Dos and Don'ts of Retinol Use

The benefits associated with regular retinol use make it a valuable addition to your skin care routine, but to reap the greatest benefits, there are a few things you must and must not do. First and foremost, you have to commit to wearing sunscreen whenever you'll be outdoors. Since retinol will increase your skin's turnover, that brand new baby soft skin must be protected as it can easily be damaged. Next, limit your use of exfoliating products. Even though peeling is common initially, a harsh scrub will irritate your skin even further. Last, but not least, keeping your skin hyper-hydrated will keep dryness and itchiness at bay. Facial mist, sheet masks, and a soothing moisturizer work wonders in tandem with retinol.

~ ~ ~

If you decide to add retinol to your anti-aging arsenal, you'll get better results if you have a solid skin care routine in place. Managing skin health includes using  properly formulated cleanser, skin-specific moisturizer, and  broad spectrum sunscreen. The more tailored your approach is, the better your outcome will be. Take our skin care quiz to find the best products for your skin type, and reach out to us if you have questions. We're always happy to help make your skin care journey a pleasant one.

To aging gracefully,


Team Reflect

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