I could wax lyrical about retinol, and all other forms of vitamin A, for hours on end. When it comes to fighting-wrinkles, you just can’t beat them. They boost collagen production, reduce crow’s feet, laugh and frown lines, and discolourations. They can even treat acne! Seriously, the sooner you incorporate one of them into your skincare routine, the better.
But, once you do, how can you reap the maximum benefits without experiencing any irritation and redness? Here are 8 proven tricks to make the most out of retinol (and all forms of vitamin A).
PS: they work even if you have sensitive skin.
1. Keep It Hidden
We humans crave sunshine and fresh hair. But retinol and its siblings dread them. Light and air quickly deactivate them, making them utterly useless in a matter of weeks. So, stop buying retinol products that come in jars (or at least screw that lid back on tightly super quickly!). Choose something that comes in sealed, opaque, or dark glass tubes and bottles. They’ll keep retinol stable for longer, giving you plenty of time to finish that serum before it goes bad.
2. Freeze It
You know what else retinol hates? Warmth. Heat makes it go bad faster too. So, don’t store your precious bottle in your muggy bathroom or forget it in the car on a hot summer day. Instead, keep it somewhere dark and fresh, like your air-conditioned bedroom, or even the refrigerator.
3. Use it at night
We already know that sunlight deactivates retinol. So, don’t use it during the day. Well, you can, if you also wear sunscreen, which I’m sure you do, right? Cos retinol may be a kick-ass wrinkle-buster, but there’s only so little it can do if you keep inflicting more and more damage to your skin every day by going out in the sun unprotected.
Besides, the morning is a better time to use other powerful anti-agers, like vitamin C and AHAs. Layered all together at the same time, all these actives can be a bit too much for skin, so use some in the morning and some (read: retinol) at night.
4. Start small
When you take up running, you don’t start with a marathon. You start with a few miles, and increase gradually, giving your body the time to get used to the bigger workload. It’s the same with retinol. Like most powerful and effective ingredients, it can be pretty harsh at first, and cause redness, flakiness, and even burning. So, start small, with low concentrations once or twice a week. As your skin gets used to it, you can increase both dose and frequency.
5. A pea is enough
When you hear how effective retinol is at treating wrinkles and other signs of aging, it’s easy to get carried away and slather a generous amount all over your face. But, please, don’t! That’ll only irritate your skin. A pea-sized amount seems puny, but, I guarantee you, it’s more than enough. With retinol, less is more.
6. Avoid other powerful or irritating ingredients
Vitamin C, glycolic acid and other AHAs/BHA are all anti-aging superstars. But, like retinol, can irritate and burn skin if used too much, too soon. So, if you’re new to retinol, stop using them for a little while.
This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. You need to give it time to adjust. Once it has, you can reintroduce those other products in your skincare routine, so you can reap all their amazing benefits, without the painful side effects.
Of course, it goes without saying you should also avoid irritating products, such as soaps and toners that contain alcohol and little else. They’re always bad, but they’re even worse when you’re using them together with retinoids. That’s a recipe for disaster!
7. Tweak your skincare routine
Even if you follow all the tips above, retinol and siblings can still cause a bit of trouble. Again, this is especially true for those cursed with sensitive skin. That’s why you should tweak your skincare routine and switch to products that help skin tolerate them.
What should you incorporate? A soothing serum rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as Paula’s Choice Clinical Instant Calm Advanced Redness Relief Treatment. Follow it up with a moisturizer designed for your skin type.
This would also be a great time to switch to a mineral sunscreen, if you haven’t already. Their active ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, protect against the entire UV spectrum and aren’t irritating. I swear by Sunumbra sunscreens. They have tinted options, so there’s no chance these white minerals will leave a ghostly cast on your skin.
8. Choose time-released products
Another trick to avoid irritations is to opt for time-released retinol products. Time-released simply means that the retinol is delivered into your skin slowly, over a period of several hours, rather than all at once. This way, it’s still as effective, but much, much gentler. You can find it in both Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate For Deep Wrinkles and Nuance Salma Hayek Overnight Time-Release Retinol Capsules.
I hope these tips will help you incorporate retinol into your skincare routine easily and gently. Here’s to younger-looking skin.
Do you use retinol? How do you make the most of it?