Retinol! What Is It & How Does It Work?

Are you thinking about adding a retinol product to your skin care routine? If so, you may be wondering how often you should use it: every day, once per week, sparingly?

Here’s your complete guide to adding retinol to your life and other things you should be aware of....

So, how often should you actually use retinol?

The short answer - Eventually, most people can use it every day or almost every day, if they like.

The long answer - It depends on what kind or product you’re using, how sensitive your skin is, and what percentage of retinol you’re using.

You’ll likely want to use retinol once or twice per week initially and work up to using it more than that.

This is because Retinol can initially be drying, especially if you have sensitive skin. So it’s a great idea to give your skin some time to adjust to the change in your night time routine...

The evening is a time of rest and repair for your skin, and cell turnover is at its peak. For this reason, I recommend applying retinol before bed to enhance activities that are already happening.

You’ll want to use it sparingly at first – I would recommend starting with 3 times a week for the first 2 weeks.

If, after the first 2 weeks, you don’t see any side effects, then consider using it 2 nights on, and 1 night off.

After a month or so with no side effects, you can likely use it every day if you wish to do so.

It takes time to transition onto Retinol - Your skin needs to adjust to it!

Back up for a second: What is retinol, exactly?

Retinol is a type of retinoid, that are derivatives of vitamin A.

Retinoids are a category that includes things like retinol, retinaldehyde, tretinoin, and more...

Retinol is commonly used in over-the-counter skin care products that treat acne and wrinkles, while retinoic acid is more commonly found in prescription products, such as isotretinoin.

Retinoic acid (aka tretinoin) is stronger than retinol, which is why products containing it tend to be available by prescription only. They’re also generally used to treat severe acne that doesn’t respond to other treatments. (Accutane, which was pulled off the market in 2009, is a brand-name example of isotretinoin.)

How does retinol work?

Retinol promotes cell development and turnover — that’s in large part what makes it so effective as a skin care ingredient.

Not only is it a powerful acne treatment, but it can also fade hyperpigmentation and red spots.

It may also prevent the breakdown of collagen. This in turn may help reduce wrinkles.

It may also smooth out your skin and promote a more even skin tone.

Is it safe to use retinol every day?

For most people, yes — once your skin is used to it, that is.

That said, there are some people who suffer with skin allergies, Eczema & Rosacea who may not want to use it frequently or at all.

This goes back to the fact that retinol hastens cell turnover. Although this is what helps treat and reduce acne, scarring, & hyperpigmentation, it also causes dryness and flakiness. So, if you have a skin condition that dries out the skin, you’ll want to speak with a skin specialist before trying out any sort of retinol product.

It’s also important to note that pregnant people should avoid retinols. Vitamin A can be damaging and increase your risk for birth defects.

Side effects to watch for....