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The Beauty Beat

Retinol for Beginners: How to Start Incorporating Retinol into Your Beauty Routine

Despite all its benefits, many people might be afraid to incorporate retinol into their beauty routine. Whether they’re worried it will make their skin more sensitive or dry, how it may interact with other products, or are just hesitant on how to start using retinol.

In reality, it’s simple to start using retinol in your beauty routine, especially as you learn more about what retinol can do for your skin. No matter where you are with retinol, the experts at Skin Spa New York are here to give you some helpful pointers!

retinol bottles

How to Start Using Retinol in Your Beauty Routine

For best results, it’s recommended to apply a thin layer of retinol to the face and avoid sensitive areas. Use a pea-sized amount. Start with every other day application for the first few weeks. Always finish up with a non-comedogenic facial moisturizer.

Introducing retinol into your beauty routine might seem intimidating, but it’s actually relatively simple as long as you follow a few simple steps as explained above! Below we presented detailed process of retinol use in your everyday routine so no mistakes are made.

Apply at Night

Retinol should always be applied at night. It’s especially sensitive to light, which is why it’s kept in dark packaging or packaging that doesn’t let any light through. In order to avoid unnecessary sun damage, only ever apply retinol before you go to bed.

Start Slow

One of the most common mistakes people make when starting to use retinol is using it every single night. For many people, that’s far too often, especially as your skin adjusts! To acclimate your skin to the retinol, start using it twice a week (every three days) in the evenings. If you aren’t experiencing any redness or flakiness the next day, you can bump it up to every other day—and then even every day if your skin can handle it.

Use Pea-Size Amount

Another common mistake people make is to use way too much product. With retinol, a little goes a long way, so you really only need a pea-sized amount to cover your entire face!

Mix It Up

One tip to help your skin adjust to retinol is to mix your retinol with your face moisturizer and then apply it to your skin. This allows the retinol to be a little gentler on your skin, which is great if you have sensitive skin. Over time, you could transition to applying the retinol directly to your skin with no moisturizer. Another option is to first apply your moisturizer as a barrier to your face, and then apply your retinol on top of that.

Monitor Dryness

As you start using retinol and slowly increase how often you use it, you should monitor how dry and flaky your skin gets. That is often one of the side effects of retinol, especially in the first few weeks. As your skin acclimates to the treatment, you will notice the redness and flakiness decrease, which is a sign that you can increase the frequency of application if you so desire.

Give it Time

Retinol is not an overnight solution to your skin concerns. In fact, you likely won’t see any major results for 12 weeks, which is the amount of time typically recommended to consistently use the product. Retinol will give you great results over time, so don’t give up if you don’t see results in the first week!

retinol oil

When to use retinol?

Retinol should only be used at night, and you should always use sunscreen because it makes your skin more susceptible to UV radiation.

Important Tips When  Incorporating Retinol into Your Beauty Routine

    • Mix your retinol with your moisturizer, or apply your moisturizer first and then your retinol.
    • Always use sunscreen the morning after you apply retinol. Your skin will be especially sensitive to sunlight, so it’s important to protect it.
    • Be patient—you likely won’t see any visible results until you’ve used the product for at least 12 weeks!

What Step is Retinol in My PM Skincare Routine?

Step 1: Cleanser 

Step 2: Toner

Step 3: Retinol

Step 4: Moisturizer

Step 5: Face Oil

retinol skin care products

Our Favorite Retinol Products

La Roche-Posay Redermic R Dermatological Anti-Aging Treatment Intensive

La Roche-Posay is a big name in skincare, and their retinol treatment is one of their most popular. Their formulation is luxurious and feels lightweight and non-greasy!

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

The Ordinary has built a name for themselves with effective products at an affordable price point, and their retinol serum is no different. Formulated with moisturizing squalane, their retinol formula feels luxurious because it’s a serum, and does good for your skin too!

Shani Darden Texture Reform

This is a luxury product at a higher price point, but its price lives up to the results. It’s a celebrity favorite due to its gentle formulation that is still effective! It is also a serum, which is preferable to some people as opposed to creams, which is the most popular option for retinol.

PCA Skin Retinol Treatment for Sensitive Skin

PCA retinols are formulated to cause less irritation in skin and penetrate deeper before releasing, so you are making changes in your skincare routine with less surface irritation and flaking.

Professional Anti-Aging Treatments

In addition to incorporating retinol into your beauty routine, it's important to consider other anti-aging treatments that can complement your skincare efforts. While retinol is a great option for achieving younger-looking skin, there are professional treatments available at Skin Spa New York that can further enhance your results. Here are some of the best anti-aging treatments to consider:

Microneedling: Microneedling involves the use of tiny needles to create controlled micro-injuries on the skin's surface. This process stimulates collagen and elastin production, leading to improved skin texture, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and overall skin rejuvenation.

Chemical Peels: Chemical peels involve applying a solution to the skin that exfoliates the outermost layers. This treatment helps to improve skin tone and texture, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce the appearance of age spots and sun damage. Chemical peels can be tailored to your specific skin concerns and are available in varying strengths.

Skin Resurfacing: Skin resurfacing is a popular cosmetic procedure that aims to improve the appearance and texture of the skin by removing damaged outer layers. It can help address various skin concerns such as wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage, uneven pigmentation, and rough skin texture.

Botox and Dermal Fillers: Botox and dermal fillers are injectable treatments that can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and restore volume to the face. Botox temporarily relaxes the muscles that cause wrinkles, while dermal fillers add volume to areas that have lost elasticity or have deep lines and wrinkles.


Incorporating retinol into your beauty routine is a great step towards achieving younger-looking skin. However, it's also important to consider professional anti-aging treatments that can further enhance your results. By combining an effective home skincare routine with targeted treatments, you can achieve a comprehensive approach to anti-aging and enjoy the benefits of healthier, more youthful skin. Visit Skin Spa New York closest location to explore the range of professional treatments available and discover the best options for your skincare journey.

Meet the author

Katie Werbowski
Director of Brand Strategy & Development at Skin Spa New York

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