Retinol has become a popular ingredient in skincare routines, beloved by many dermatologists for the benefits it can have on mature and mild acne-prone skin. However, as with any potent ingredient, knowing how to apply retinol and when to use retinol in your skincare regime has a great impact on its efficacy and how it interacts with your skin. With a little research, the right formulation and application, retinol can help to bring out the best in all skin types, including sensitive. Continue reading to find out when you can start using retinol and how you can effectively incorporate this gold-star ingredient into your skincare.
WHAT IS RETINOL IN SKINCARE?
A vitamin A derivative, retinol is revered by skincare experts for its capacity to stimulate skin cell renewal and boost collagen, thus visibly diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dullness and pigmentation. This enhanced skin cell turnover also benefits mild acne-prone skin, as it helps prevent dead skin cells from clogging pores and contributing to breakouts. Enlarged pores are a common skin concern, and retinol is valued for its ability to refine skin texture and improve the appearance of pores. While retinol is often used sparingly as a serum concentrate, lower concentrations of retinol can be formulated in moisturisers for more sensitive skin types.
WHEN TO USE RETINOL
Our bodies naturally produce collagen (a protein) which is integral in the skin’s elasticity and smooth appearance. However, from as early as our twenties, collagen production begins to decline by approximately 1-1.5% per year. Since retinol is renowned for its collagen-promoting properties, it has become quite a common anti-ageing ingredient for mature skin. While there are no specific timelines for when to apply retinol, many people use retinol for preventative measures in their mid-twenties before fine lines begin to form.
5 TIPS ON HOW TO APPLY RETINOL
You might find the idea of integrating retinol in your skincare routine a little overwhelming, particularly since it can increase photosensitivity (our skin’s sensitivity to UV rays). However, if you take the time to educate yourself about when to use retinol in your skincare routine and how to manage some of the common side effects like dryness, you can start reaping the benefits. Read on for La Roche-Posay’s top 5 tips for applying retinol to help you achieve smoother, brighter and firmer skin.
TIP#1:INTRODUCE RETINOL SLOWLY
It’s important to establish how often to use retinol, particularly if you are new to retinol or experience skin sensitivity. Since retinol is such a potent ingredient and there is potential for skin sensitisation, we recommend introducing it into your skincare routine slowly. You may find that you experience skin dryness, redness, flaking or initial breakouts, so start by applying retinol only 1-2 times per week to give your skin time to adapt. Monitor your how your skin responds to retinol and then assess whether you can gradually increase your usage to daily application. For those with sensitive skin, you might consider applying a retinol cream like Redermic Retinol Anti-Ageing Cream Gel over a serum to increase your skin’s tolerance to this active ingredient while still enjoying its anti-ageing benefits. This cream can be used daily, but if you experience discomfort after the first use, space out your application. If unsure, always consult your healthcare professional.
TIP #2 :APPLY PRODUCTS CORRECTLY
Retinol can be applied at night to a clean face, neck and decolletage area. Ensure your skin has dried completely after cleansing. If using a serum concentrate like La Roche-Posay’s Retinol B3 Anti-Ageing Serum, use 3-4 drops, patting gently into the skin. Of course, learning how to use retinol at night also involves layering your other products correct. La Roche-Posay recommends applying products in order of thinnest to thickest, after retinol – see our suggestions for your nighttime skincare routine:
2. Once skin is dry, apply retinol.
3. If using complementary serums like hyaluronic acid, apply next.
TIP #3: INCREASE SUN PROTECTION
While retinol boasts many benefits, it does increase photosensitivity. For this reason, retinol is best applied at night. In the morning, ensure that you apply a broad-spectrum SPF daily. Our Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ can be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure, while those looking for a hint of colour with their sun protection can use Anthelios Tinted Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE.
Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection so wear protective clothing and seek shade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, towelling and perspiring in accordance with directions.
TIP #4: LAYER WITH COMPLEMENTARY SERUMS
We know that retinol is a powerful, highly efficacious ingredient but understanding when to use retinol in your routine is key to unlocking its benefits and reducing possible side effects. You might be wondering how the skin responds using retinol vs vitamin C vs hyaluronic acid, and while you should learn know how to layer serums and ingredients correctly, they can actually complement each other in a very unique way. Knowing that retinol heightens photosensitivity, vitamin C can be used during your morning skincare routine to help neutralise free radicals caused by UV exposure. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid can help the skin retain moisture during retinol use.
TIP #5: BOOST YOUR SKIN'S HYDRATION
Retinol can have initial drying qualities, so it’s important ensure your skin retains moisture. You can address this dryness with the potent combination of a humectant (water-attracting) product like hyaluronic acid and an occlusive (moisture-sealing) moisturiser. Now that you know when to apply retinol in your routine, you may want to follow this up with the Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which is specially formulated for sensitive skin to hydrate. As your final step in your nighttime skincare routine, apply a thick, efficacious moisturiser like Toleriane Sensitive Riche Prebiotic Cream to deeply nourish the skin and support the moisture skin barrier.
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