8 ways to make the most of retinol - even if you have sensitive skin

It’s not just what you use. It’s HOW you use it.

Take retinol. It’s the gold standard for anti aging. It boosts collagen production, reduces wrinkles and even treats acne! You’d be mad not to use it.

But if you use it WRONG, it won’t work as well. Worse, it may turn your face into a flaky red mess.

So how to you use it RIGHT? Here are 8 scientifically proven tricks to make the most out of retinol (and all other forms of Vitamin A):

PS: they work even if you have sensitive skin.

1. Keep It Hidden

We humans crave sunshine and fresh hair. Retinol hates them. Whenever it’s exposed to light and air, it slowly loses a bit of its effectiveness. Within a few short weeks, it becomes useless. That’s why you should opt for opaque and air-tight tubes and bottles that keep it hidden from its enemies. They’ll keep it effective until you’ve reached the last drop.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Retinol Products Packaged In Jars

2. Freeze It

No more storing your precious retinol serums in the bathroom, girls. Heat makes retinol go bad faster too. If you want it to last (and I guess you do), keep your bottles somewhere dark and fresh, like your air-conditioned bedroom. Or the refrigerators. Yep, that works too.


Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that really reduces the look of wrinkles and gives your skin a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


3. Use It At Night

Remember when I said retinol and light don’t get along well? You can get around this by wearing sunscreen. But if you’re not religious with reapplication, save yourself the hassle and use it at night.

Related: What Ingredients Are Best Used At Night?

4. Start Small

When you take up running, you don’t start with a marathon. You run for a mile, then two, then three. You work your way up to give your body time to get used to the bigger workload. It’s the same with retinol. When you first use it, it can be pretty harsh and leave your skin red and flaky. The best way to avoid the irritation is to start with a small concentration once or twice a week and increase both dose and frequency gradually.

Related: Which Strength Of Retinol Should You Use?

peter thomas roth retinol infusion pm night serum 01

5. A Pea Is Enough

I know you want to get rid of those wrinkles fast, but don’t get carried away. A pea-size amount for the face is enough. Really. With retinol, less is more.

Related: How Much Of Each Skincare Product Should You Use?

6. Avoid Other Powerful Or Irritating Ingredients

All the best skincare superstars – you know, vitamin C and glycolic acid – can be harsh and irritating too. If you’ve got pretty resistant skin, you may be able to use them together.

If you’ve got sensitive skin or are a retinol newbie, you need to give your skin time to adjust to the extra load. That means using them on alternate nights.

If even that is too much, you may want to consider taking one superstar out of your skincare routine for a while. You can always bring it back once your skin has gotten used to the new regime.

Related: 5 Antiaging Superstars You Should Include In Your Skincare Routine

medik8 retinol 6 TR 01

7. Tweak Your Skincare Routine

Even if you follow all the tips above, retinol can still cause some trouble. It may dry out your skin or irritate it. Not as much as it would if you started with a huge dose every day but if your skin’s on the sensitive side, the risk is there.

That’s why it pays to be prepared. Follow up your retinol with a rich moisturizer full of soothing agents that’ll neutralise both its drying and irritating effects.

Best picks:

8. Choose Time-Released Products

If you have sensitive skin, your best bet is to go for a time-released retinol product. Time-released means retinol is delivered into your skin slowly over a period of several hours rather than all at once.

Best picks:

The Bottom Line

You can make the most of retinol and reduce those pesky wrinkles – even if you have sensitive skin. The trick is to start small, use products that are gentle, and take good care of your serums so they don’t go bad before their time.