7 Retinol Skincare Routine Tips for Beginners

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7 Retinol Skincare Routine Tips for Beginners | Retinol is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A that helps with acne and anti-aging. It helps firm the skin by triggering collagen and elastin production and speeding up cell turnover. It can also improve skin pigmentation, texture, acne, acne scarring, and clogged pores. Drugstore retinol products like The Ordinary and Cerave work well, but it's important to follow the tips in this post to minimize breakouts while your skin adapts.

Retinol is a holy grail skincare product that everyone needs in their regimen. Known for its incredible anti-aging effects, the sooner you get started with this preventative ingredient, the better. It also benefits mild acne, minimizes sun spots, and reduces hyper pigmentation. While it’s best to start slow with retinol, once your skin can tolerate it, it should be a part of your daily routine. Here are our best retinol skincare routine tips for beginners!

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A that helps with acne and anti-aging. Vitamin A is one of the body’s key nutrients for boosting cell turnover, making retinol a key ingredient for skin renewal, brightening skin tone, and boosting collagen production. Retinol firms skin by triggering collagen and elastin production and by speeding up cell turnover. It can also improve pigmentation, texture, acne, acne scarring, and clogged pores. With the exception of those who have eczema, rosacea or very sensitive skin, everyone can benefit from using retinol.

What Are the Benefits of Using Retinol?

  1. Increases skin cell production for brighter, more youthful skin
  2. Reduces appearance of wrinkles and enlarged pores
  3. Gives your skin a fresher, plump appearance
  4. Minimizes sun spots and other signs of sun damage
  5. Improves uneven skin texture
  6. Exfoliates your skin
  7. Helps with melasma and other types of hyperpigmentation

What Are the Risks of Using Retinol?

People who use retinol sometimes experience dry and irritated skin, especially after using a new product. Other side effects can include:

  1. Redness
  2. Itchiness
  3. Peeling skin

Less than 10 perfect of individuals who use retinol may experience more severe side effects, including:

  1. An acne flare up
  2. An eczema flare up
  3. Discolouration of the skin
  4. Photosensitivity to UV light
  5. Blistering
  6. Stinging
  7. Swelling

7 Retinol Skincare Routine Tips

1. When to Start
Having great skin as you age is all about prevention. For anti-aging purposes, you can start using retinol in your mid-twenties as a preventative measure against fine lines and other signs of aging. If you’re in your thirties or forties (or older), you can start it at any time to treat signs of aging skin when they actually occur. The best time to start with retinol depends on your specific skin care concerns. For example, if you’re dealing with acne in your teens, you can look into incorporating retinol into your routine.

2. How to Start
If you’re new to retinol, use a lower strength (0.01 to 0.03), start slowly, and build up as your skin builds a tolerance. Retinol can be very irritating if used too frequently or if the formula is too strong for your skin. Use a pea size amount of a low percentage formula twice a week to start. You can slowly increase the usage to give your skin time to build up tolerance. Once your skin learns to tolerate such a strong ingredient, you can work up to using it nightly.

3. Retinol and Sun Exposure
Sun exposure can worsen some of the drying and irritating effects of retinol. On top of this, sun exposure can heighten the risk for some of the exact effects you’re using retinol for, including age spots and wrinkles. It’s super important to maintain a robust sun protection routine. It’s important to wear sunscreen everyday regardless, however, you should be extra vigilant about applying sunscreen if you’re using retinol. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Cover up with a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses and seek shade as much as possible if you’re spending time in the sun.

4. Retinol for Acne
If you have mild acne (a few whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples) an OTC retinol may be a good option for you. For more severe acne, talk to your dermatologist about the best option for your unique skin needs. Retinol is often used alongside other acne medications like a face wash that has benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

5. When to Skip Retinol
Always skip your retinol product the day before you exfoliate so you don’t heighten your skin’s sensitivity. Since exfoliating can be irritating to your skin, you don’t want to exacerbate the irritation. If you’re getting in-office treatments like microneedling, microdermabrasion, or lasers, you should take a break from retinol. Your specialist will likely send you home with care instructions, but you will typically need to wait between 48 hours to 14 days before using retinol again after these treatments. Your skin should look and feel healed before applying retinol again.

6. Retinol Breakouts
In some cases, retinol may make your breakouts worse before they get better. This is called purging. A purge happens when you use exfoliating ingredients, which remove dead layers of skin. In the process, this brings everything to the surface of your skin all at once. Essentially, these pimples would have appeared anyway, but do so more quickly. Those with very dry or very oily skin are more susceptible to purging. To avoid or minimize purging, make sure to start with a small dose, stick to a pea size amount, and only use it a couple of nights a week to start. And be sure to moisturize very well afterward to help repair the skin barrier.

7. Keep Your Skin Hydrated
It’s super important to keep your skin nice and hydrated when using retinol. The first few weeks in particular can result in really dry and irritated skin. Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your skin and body hydrated, especially during this time. You should also be doubling down on moisturizer. This will reduce dryness and hydrate your skin for a healthy, dewy complexion. If you notice your skin is super dry or flaky in the first few weeks, you can try a richer moisturizer at night to combat the dryness.

Thinking of adding retinol to your routine? We hope you loved these skincare tips for beginners!

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7 Retinol Skincare Routine Tips for Beginners | Retinol is a naturally occurring derivative of vitamin A that helps with acne and anti-aging. It helps firm the skin by triggering collagen and elastin production and speeding up cell turnover. It can also improve skin pigmentation, texture, acne, acne scarring, and clogged pores. Drugstore retinol products like The Ordinary and Cerave work well, but it's important to follow the tips in this post to minimize breakouts while your skin adapts.

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