The Right (and wrong) Ways To Use Retinol

The Do's and Don'ts of Retinol Skincare | SupriyaMD Skincare | Palm Beach Dermatologist

If you follow along with us at all, you’ll hear us recommend retinol skincare products frequently and why we love them so much. We will always recommend this skincare superstar to anyone and everyone who will listen, but before using this powerful active there are some things you should know to make your experience using it as beneficial to your skin as possible.

Buffer your retinol

If you’re a retinol newbie or you’re increasing your strength and use, you’ll want to buffer your retinol with a moisturizer that helps reduce inflammation and soothes your skin. All you need to do is combine your retinol with your moisturizer, or applying moisturizer first and then retinol. This generally works to reduce the chance of a reaction, but it also means the retinol’s strength will be diluted. This isn’t a bad thing if your skin is highly sensitive and prone to inflammation, but eventually you’ll want to reverse this routine by applying your retinol first and following it with moisturizer.

Don’t apply retinol on top of reactive skin

While some sensitivity, peeling, and redness is common and expected when you start using retinol, it’s not something you should power through with continued retinol use. If you’re noticing the signs of irritation from your retinol, allow it to recover between applications. Your skin will eventually adapt to the retinol within a couple weeks and we encourage you not to give up on it, but you should still take care of your skin and allow it to heal during the beginning.

Limit harsh exfoliants

Retinol should not be used during the same routine as any AHAs, BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, or physical exfoliants like scrubs. This is only going to enhance your chances of retinol burn and irritate your skin. It might even increase your risk of hyperpigmentation, so limit using them when you’re increasing retinol use, and consider using them on the days when you’re not using retinol.

Try hydrocortisone

If you overdid it and now you’ve got retinol burn, it’s ok. Your focus right now should be healing your burned skin with products that are all about soothing and healing like Aloe Cort Cream 1%. This product works well with retinol since its primary focus is reducing redness, peeling, and irritation from sunburns, rashes, and post-procedure skin. Once your irritation has cleared up (usually within a couple days) you’re safe to resume retinol use.

Only use it at night

UV light deactivates your retinol, so using it during the day won’t offer much benefit. Plus, layering sunscreen over it can cause congestion and irritate your skin quite a bit. Since retinol helps your skin cells turnover faster (something your skin already does at night), it’s best applied right before you go to bed.

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