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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

While introducing retinol into your beauty routine might seem intimidating, it’s actually relatively simple as long as you follow a few simple steps!

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

Quick Tips for 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: Moisturizer

    Step 4: Retinol

    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.

    Meet the author

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

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