Beauty experts and dermatologists alike have loved retinol for its potent, skin-rejuvenating magic for decades now. Yet, even with its popularity and widespread use, there is so much to know and unpack surrounding this ingredient and whether to include it in your skincare ritual. So, we decided to chat with our very own Heather Snead, certified esthetician and our in-house skincare and wellness specialist, for her insight.
What Is Retinol?
Retinol is a skincare ingredient that has been used around the world for its numerous benefits. It's a derivative of vitamin A that helps exfoliate the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and visibly evens out skin tone. Retinol also helps to stimulate collagen production from its exfoliation properties, which is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. With consistent use, retinol can help promote the overall texture and appearance of the skin, helping it appear smoother, brighter, and more youthful-looking.
What's the correct way to use retinol?
♦ Start slow when incorporating retinol into your skincare routine
♦ Apply your retinol at night
♦ A little goes a long way, so be sure to use a pea-sized amount
♦ Apply to dry skin after cleansing
♦ Avoid sensitive areas
♦ Wear sunscreen
♦ Follow up with a good moisturizer such as Quench Crème.
♦ Be patient: It can take a few weeks to even a full year of consistent use to see the full benefits of retinol. Stick with it!
How does the retinol in an over-the-counter product differ from those requiring a prescription?
Retinoids have been used for centuries around the world to treat a variety of skin concerns. Retinol is a type of over-the-counter retinoid, which is a group of compounds derived from Vitamin A used to improve uneven skin tone, pigmentation, and texture. On the other hand, prescription-strength retinoids, like tretinoin or adapalene, are more potent forms of vitamin A that have been studied for their effectiveness in treating acne and reducing wrinkles.
While over-the-counter retinol products may not be the clinically effective forms of vitamin A in prescription-strength retinoids, the benefit is that they are typically more user-friendly due to being more gentle on the skin. This is especially important for those with sensitive skin who may not be able to tolerate the higher concentrations and potent vitamin A forms found in prescription-strength products.
With consistent use, over-the-counter retinol can be an excellent contribution to a healthy skincare regimen. It can help address concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Over-the-counter retinol products may take longer to produce visible results and may not be as effective for severe skin concerns. But, starting with an over-the-counter product like Retinol Reset allows individuals to create a healthy skincare habit and gradually work up to stronger formulations if needed.
Just be sure to look out for dry and flaky skin, and always use a good moisturizer to help keep your skin nourished while the retinol works its exfoliating magic. Whether you use an over-the-counter retinol product or a prescription-strength retinoid, incorporating this ingredient into your skincare routine can be a game-changer for achieving a brighter, smoother, and more even complexion.
Is there too young of an age to start using retinol? What is the best age to begin?
If you're considering adding retinol to your skincare routine, knowing when to start is important. Experts generally recommend waiting until the late teenage years or early 20s to begin using retinol. This is when the skin starts to show signs of aging, and other concerns, such as blemishes and uneven skin tone, may also be present. Teenagers are still going through hormonal changes that can affect their skin, which often results in more delicate and sensitive skin that can be more easily irritated by the strong exfoliating effects of retinol.
For those reasons, it may be more appropriate to address concerns through other means until the time is right to begin a retinol treatment regimen. It's generally recommended to consult with a dermatologist or a trusted licensed esthetician to understand the effects it can have on one's skin before starting any new skincare routine, especially when it comes to retinol.
Why can’t I use my retinol during the day or in the sun?
Retinol is a powerhouse ingredient that can work wonders for the skin, but it's important to use it correctly to see the best results. One common mistake people make when using retinol is applying it during the day or without wearing sunscreen. While it may seem harmless, this can actually do more harm than good. Not only does retinol increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight, but it can also exacerbate existing skin concerns like hyperpigmentation and common blemishes (which is what you’re trying to reverse!). This can set your skincare journey back and leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged.
For these reasons, it's crucial only to use retinol products at night and always follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day, especially between retinol uses—not just the day after. This will not only help protect your skin from harmful UV rays but also ensure that your retinol works effectively without causing any unwanted side effects. So, if you're looking to incorporate retinol into your skincare routine, just remember to use it smartly and protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. Your skin will thank you in the long run!
Are there any retinol alternatives that work just as well?
Yes! There are amazing retinol alternatives that often work just as well for those who cannot use or prefer not to use retinol. One such alternative is Bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is a plant-based ingredient derived from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia (Bakuchi) plant that has been used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries for its various medicinal properties but has only recently gained popularity in the U.S.
Bakuchiol has been shown to have similar effects to retinol, such as improving fine lines, wrinkles, and skin texture, but without the same level of irritation or sensitivity that some experience with retinol. Bakuchiol has been widely recognized as a gentle ingredient that is suitable for almost all skin types, including sensitive skin. It’s also been shown to have antioxidant and calming properties, making it a great ingredient for improving overall skin health.
Can I use both “natural alternatives” together with retinol?
Using Bakuchiol and retinol together in your skincare routine can provide a number of benefits. Both ingredients have been shown to improve skin texture, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and promote a more even skin tone. When used together, Bakuchiol and retinol can enhance the benefits of each other. Bakuchiol is a natural alternative to retinol that is gentle on the skin and may help reduce the potential for irritation or sensitivity that can occur with retinol use.
Retinol, on the other hand, is a more potent ingredient that can provide more dramatic results. Combining these two ingredients can help to balance out their strengths and weaknesses, resulting in a more effective and well-rounded skincare regimen. It's important to note that retinol can increase skin sensitivity to the sun, so of course, I will say it again—It's important to use sunscreen during the day to protect your skin!
Are there any side effects? How can I avoid any sensitivity from happening?
The most common side effects of retinol include dryness and peeling of the skin. These side effects can be minimized by starting with a low concentration of retinol and gradually increasing the concentration over time. It's also important to avoid using retinol too frequently, especially in the beginning, as this can cause excess sensitivity. In addition, it's recommended to avoid using an overly occlusive moisturizer over the retinol at night, as this can trap the exfoliated skin within the skin barrier, leading to excess breakouts and sensitivity. Instead, use a lightweight and non-comedogenic like our Quench Crème moisturizer to ensure that the skin can breathe and stay hydrated without clogging pores. And lastly...(can you guess what's coming??) Sunscreen!!
It's crucial to always use sunscreen during the day when using retinol. This will help to prevent further damage and ensure the skin stays healthy and protected. My rule of thumb is to use at least 30+SPF UV broad-spectrum facial sunscreen and reapply throughout the day as necessary. If you experience excessive sensitivity or other concerning side effects, it's always best to consult with a dermatologist or licensed skin care professional to determine the best course of action.
What is your go-to way of using retinol in your routine? Do you have any recommendations?
As someone who values a consistent skincare routine, I take certain steps when incorporating retinol into my regimen. My usual routine typically includes a gentle cleanser, a physical exfoliant such as a scrub, a serum like my favorite—Glow Serum, and a moisturizer. However, when using retinol, I make sure to avoid using a scrub on the same day or the day before to prevent excess dryness and sensitivity.
When I apply Retinol Reset as part of my nightly skincare routine, I skip my Glow Serum and instead pair it with an SPF 30+ the following morning. The following days after beginning a retinol treatment regimen, I pay close attention to my skin and assess whether I can continue using my regular moisturizer or if I need a heavier formula to soothe any dryness or sensitivity.
I’m someone who has pretty sensitive skin, so I like to start with retinol once or twice a week for at least a month before increasing the frequency. I regularly assess my skin's reaction to new products and adjust my routine accordingly. If I notice any redness or irritation, which can look like bumps and breakouts, I hold off on using retinol for an extra night or two. Over time, my skin is able to comfortably shed its old, dead skin cells and reveal the fresh, nourished skin waiting to glow underneath.
I also make sure not to use an overly occlusive moisturizer over the retinol at night. Overly heavy moisturizers and jellies can trap exfoliated skin within the skin barrier and cause excess breakouts and sensitivity.
Lastly, of course, I A L W A Y S use a mineral-based SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen during the day and reapply throughout the day as needed. Seriously—I keep little bottles everywhere!