How to Get the Most Out Of Your Retinol
Retinol, or vitamin A, is one of the best anti-aging ingredients available. It's proven to fight free radicals, boost cell turnover, and speed up collagen production to treat and prevent fine lines and dark spots. And the best part? You can get it at your local drugstore (or preferably, our Truly store!)
But there's a catch to this magnificent ingredient: there is a wrong and a right way to use retinol products.
From layering to how frequently to use, best methods of application to proper storage, here's how to get the most out of your retinol -- and in turn, reap the most results!
Choose the Right Form
Retinol, retinaldehyde and retinoic acids are all forms of retinoids that come in over-the-counter and prescription form. If you have sensitive skin or you're experiencing issues with prescription retinoids, start with an over-the-counter retinol serum instead. Prescription strength is better for oilier skin types.
Since retinol must convert to retinoic acid, visible improvements from the former may be slower to emerge. Retinaldehyde is another vitamin A derivative that is very effective at slowing and treating signs of aging.
Apply Retinol Before Bed
Retinols are easily inactivated by exposure to sunlight. That's why, ideally, it's best to apply your retinol serums and moisturizers in the evening. That's what dermatologists say anyway.
"Retinoids are naturally photo-unstable, meaning they break down in sunlight, making them less effective," says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MD, a dermatologist with New York's Schweiger Dermatology Group.
She adds that wearing them in the daytime can also make you more prone to sun damage.
"All retinoids cause a slight thinning of the outermost layer of dead skin cells and therefore makes it slightly easier to burn in sunlight," says Dr. Nazarian.
If you do plan on wearing retinol skincare products in the day time, you'll need to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 to prevent burning.
Avoid Using it Every Night -- At Least in the Beginning
Because retinoids can be so irritating, you’ll need to pay close attention to your skin when you first add them into your skincare routine. This is even more crucial if you have sensitive skin as it can cause redness, itching, and irritation.
For best results, start using your topical retinol treatment every other night and increase or decrease depending on your skin's reaction to it.
If you've got sensitive skin, you may want to use it every 3rd night to begin with so that your skin can slowly adjust and you can avoid the negative side effects of overuse.
Your skin will adjust within around a month. However, if you're experiencing lots of redness, burning, and flaking, try spacing out your uses even further.
Recommended product: Truly's Purple Rain Glow Serum.
Layer it with Hydrating Ingredients
"Retinol is an effective anti-aging ingredient, but can exacerbate skin dryness," explains Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology.
To drive out dry skin caused by retinol creams, mix and layer them with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, coconut oil, and ceramides.
"Make sure to moisturize; humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid can draw and hold water molecules to the surface layers of your skin, while oil-based emollient ingredients help seal in moisture," he adds.
Don't Layer it With
Retinol might be a powerhouse ingredient, but you need to be careful what you use it with.
For instance, some derms say that layering retinol with benzoyl peroxide, and certain alpha or beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid can cause each ingredient to inactivate each other.
On that note, there are plenty of dermatologists who believe that this isn't the case -- provided that you don't use too many skincare ingredients at once, as this can make you more vulnerable to irritation.
The same theory applies to vitamin C. While some experts say they're best used at opposite times of the day (vitamin C in the day and retinol at night), others say it's fine to mix them. Some even claim combining small doses of retinol and vitamin C can boost each other's benefits.
Recommended product: Truly's Vegan Collagen Bundle.
Only Use a Pea Sized Amount
Any more and your skin will probably freak out.
Even if you're six weeks in to your retinol skincare regimen, you still only need to use a pea sized amount. Any more and you're just wasting your precious product.
Keep Your Retinol Cleansers and Night Creams Covered
Exposure to air and light can convert retinols to another compound that's pretty much useless to your skin.
To keep them in perfect shape and working effectively as always, always remember to tightly screw the lids back on your retin-a skincare products.
Store it in the Fridge
According to Gary Fisher, a professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School, heat alters "the chemical structure and composition of retinol, making it less biologically active."
So what's the solution?
Pop your retinol lotions and eye creams in the refrigerator.
Storing retinol in the fridge doesn't just make this active ingredient work more effectively. It can also extend its lifespan.
Retinol may be a superstar skincare ingredient known for treating aging, evening out skin tone, fading hyperpigmentation, and tackling breakouts, but it's not magic.
In other words, this is not an overnight process for anyone -- even if you are using it on a nightly schedule.
If you want to see desirable results, you will need to be patient. Stay consistent with your routine, gradually adding in your retinyl palmitate serums and oils, and pretty soon, you'll start noticing better skin. Just be prepared to wait up to eight weeks before you see visible changes.
Like most beauty formulations, retinol isn't a quick fix. It takes time and commitment to see the changes you want to see.
Want to make your retinol serum work harder? The above tips should help you out.
If you're pregnant or suffer from skin conditions like eczema, refrain from using retinol products.