ABC’s of: Retinoids

{Allure Best of Beauty Winner 2010 RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream}

I’m going to level with you. There are few skincare products that can pack a punch and get the real, noticeable results you are after. To that end, there is nothing that works like retinoids. It’s the best way to slow down the clock all by simply using a cream. Simply put, retinoids minimize the appearance of existing age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles and prevent new ones from forming. A twisted molecule of Vitamin A, it treats a variety of skin concerns: acne, oily skin, wrinkles, fine lines, psoriasis, keratosis pilaris, blackheads, and scarring.

I have already waxed poetic for my love for the stuff, as seen here and here. Retinols can be found over the counter, or you can see a dermatologist and find the best fit for your skin type and needs. I am in the business of prevention, I have spoken with too many women who wish they had taken better care of their skin when they were my age and younger. Good skin is a commitment, and it needs to be properly maintained and cared for, retinol is one such way to ensure that. If you want to make a serious change in your skin for the better, no matter your age or skin type as everyone can benefit, read on.


Heavy metal. When it comes to skincare, retinols in particular, the packaging matters. Avoid retinols that come in jars, as soon as the lid is off and air hits the product, the retinol begins to degrade in efficacy. An ideal retinol will come in an aluminum tube with a tiny mouth (see image above). After that, the runner up would be an opaque plastic bottle with a pump.

What’s in a name? If you are looking for straight up retinol in your skincare, you need to look for just that in the ingredient list. Derivatives of retinol include the more common retinyl palmitate and retinyl linoleate. These are mixed with a buffering agent to lessen irritation, thus also making them drastically less effective than unadulterated retinol. If you are looking for a sure thing, see your dermatologist for a prescription formulation.

Due diligence. Be consistent with your retinol usage. It can take 57 days of using retinol before you notice a difference in your skin, so consistency is imperative. Often time’s people stop using retinols before it has a chance to work. Retinol should be applied daily after cleansing on dry skin. Retinol exfoliates the surface layer of skin, and then builds collagen below. Waiting too long between applications lets your surface layer build up again. Thereby making you wait even longer to reap the benefits and notice the improvements. Don’t take breaks with retinols, except with pregnancy, nursing, or waxing (no retinols 5 to 7 days before waxing and wait 2 days after the fact). If you take a month off of retinol, it’s like you are starting all over again.

Nighttime is the right time. Whether a retinol contains a sunscreen is inconsequential. Sun exposure causes the ingredients to break down. Use a retinol every night upon cleansing your skin. If irritation proves to be a problem, begin first with a gentle formulation (or retinol derivative) and slowly build up to retinol. Or you can dilute your favorite retinol product with a plain cream like Cera Ve or Cetaphil.

A dab will do you. When using a retinoid only use a pearl-size amount. This is enough product to adequately cover the face. Overdosing on retinol is one reason it causes reactions in people’s skin. If this amount leads to irritation and sensitivity, mix it with your basic moisturizer first before applying. You know your skin and what works best for you.

The eyes have it. What many fail to realize is retinol eye creams can be applied directly to the eyelids. This helps fight crepiness and loss of elasticity. To prevent redness or peeling, use your retinol eye cream every third night.

Protect and prevent! The use of retinoids increases your sunburn potential so be faithful in wearing your sunscreen every day 24/7/365. You are applying retinols to improve the look and feel of your skin, don’t set all your hard work and efforts back by exposing your skin to sun exposure, and free radical damage from cigarette smoke. Make the most of your hard work by using an antioxidant sunscreen every day.

{Image from Elle}

Do you currently use any retinoids? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried and experienced!

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8 Responses to ABC’s of: Retinoids

  1. Maggie says:

    I started using Neutrogena’s retinol products a few monts ago but I stopped. I was getting really red. I never knew I could dilute it and stick with it. Thanks for the tip!

    I learn something everyday here.


  2. Breanna says:

    @Maggie Definitely dilute it and start it back up again, you are going to love the results! Retinols are amazing, I wish everyone would use them!

  3. Danielle says:

    57 days? Is this because of cell turnover rates?

    I tried some philosophy retinol products (ie Help me). I liked it. And stopped using it. And I don’t remember why. I think I should return to it.

    If you had to pick 1 retinoid to incorporate into my routine, which would you recommend?

  4. […] more information on retinols, please refer to my ABC’s of: Retinoids […]

  5. Paula Israel says:

    I am a 60 + woman with good skin genes, but for the last few years have been trying products to reduce wrinkles, increase the brightness of my skin etc. I currently use Bobbie Brown products, make up, eye cream (not working) hydrating moisturizer and the serum- just at night) and Aveda Products (cleansing/toner). I am thinking of either trying Philosophy’s Retinol product or Kiehls Powerful-Strength Line Reducing concentrate.

    Will adding a 3rd product to my facial regime diminish or conflict with the effects of the Bobbie Brown serum (I could switch to only am) and moisturizer (soon to run out and may try something else)?

    Any suggestions will be appreciated-should have started sooner, now if I could only convince my daughters to start.


  6. Shauna says:

    I am afraid to use retinol products. I have seen women with shiney, plastic looking faces. I am wondering if Retinol is the cause of this. Any input?

  7. […] your skin is known for being sensitive, and you have reacted to other anti-aging products, such as retinols or alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants can help you […]

  8. […] more information on retinols, please refer to my ABC’s of: Retinoids […]

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