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The Beginner's Guide to Retinol: Where to Start

Posted by Ellie Swain on Aug 28th 2021

The Beginner's Guide to Retinol: Where to Start

You’ve seen it spread across the glossy pages of magazines and listened to your friends gush about it at Sunday brunch. But do you really know much about retinol and how to use it?

Do you know what it does? Or how to apply it?

While retinol is thriving in the beauty world for its impressive anti-aging effects, not everyone knows where to start with it. But don’t worry, that’s where we come in to help.

We’re here to teach you all about retinol as a beginner, so you can reap all its smoothing, anti-aging, brightening, and zip-killing benefits quickly and without aggravating your skin. It’s time to introduce the marvel that is retinol properly.

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is often applauded as the ‘holy grail’ of skincare ingredients. It’s a derivative of vitamin A that delivers various benefits, including skin cell rejuvenation and cell turnover, essential for anti-aging.

While vitamin A is naturally produced in your body, it decreases as you age. That’s why babies and young children have such smooth skin (what a waste!), and older adults may experience skin elasticity and wrinkles.

Not only does retinol help with anti-aging though, but it also reduces acne, fades hyperpigmentation, and improves skin texture. The question is – what can’t retinol do?

When Should You Start Using Retinol?

While you may not be rocking in your chair yet, most skincare professionals claim that retinol should be used in skincare routines for most people in their 20s, typically their mid-20s. This is the age that our skin shows signs of reducing cell and collagen production.

Remember, many factors lead to unwanted wrinkles and aging. You can’t avoid all of them, so looking after your skin with ingredients like retinol is key. While you can’t stay out of the sun forever or avoid developing facial expressions, you can add a retinol-based formula to your skincare routine.

Which Retinol Strength Should You Use as a Beginner?

Retinol products come in different strengths, and if you’re new to the ingredient, you don’t want to stress your skin out by using a too strong formula.

You want a product with at least 0.1% retinol, retinyl esters, or retinaldehyde as a beginner. Unless your skin is super sensitive, starting at 0.5% is a great idea.

You can work your way up to a strong formula, potentially reaching up to 3% with time. However, you may have to build up to this strength over several years if you’re in it for the long game.

An excellent starting product is PCA Skin’s R-OH Intensive Age Refining Treatment 0.5%. This nighttime treatment helps to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone using retino-peptides and stem cell extract technology. The skin is intensively strengthened using stabilized retinol with minimal irritation.

When your skin has adapted to retinol a bit better, you can try switching to a stronger product such as Revision’s Retinol Complete 1%. This facial serum brightens, and smooth’s the complexion’s texture using the power of five antioxidants and a blend of botanical extracts that boost the potency of retinol while delivering long-term hydration.

How Do You Use Retinol?

As a new user, retinol must be introduced to your skin slowly and cautiously.

To avoid aggravating and reddening your skin, use retinol once a week for the first two weeks. If you have minor skin irritation, increase the amount you use for the next two weeks.

The following two weeks, use retinol twice a week. If there’s limited skin irritation, again increase the amount used.

After a month, you should be ready to use retinol every other day. If there’s little skin irritation, you can try using retinol every night or stick with it every other night if you feel more comfortable.

In many cases, retinol is as effective when used every other night compared to every night. Many retinol lovers use the ingredient every other night, even after years of use.

To use retinol, apply a pea-sized amount to your face and neck following double-cleansing. Give the skin a little time to absorb its anti-aging goodness. You can always brush your teeth as the retinol soaks to save time.

Always, always follow up with a heavy moisturizer to avoid skin irritation from retinol. Don’t ever skip this step, or your skin won’t thank you for it.

Voila, there’s how to use retinol as a complete beginner. With continued use, you’re soon to experience more youthful-looking, clearer, and glowing skin.

Do you want more skincare advice? Here’s how to treat hangover skin after a night dancing on the tiles.