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The Dos & Don’ts of Retinol

By paula

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What you need to know before applying this powerful product.



But first, what exactly does Retinol do?

Retinol is one of four Vitamin A creams in the family called retinoids. Retinoids work to treat the visible signs of premature aging, such as fine lines, age spots and other types of pigmentation. As a mild exfoliant, retinoids also unclog pores, preventing acne outbreaks and allow other topicals to work better.


Sounds great right?

It is! But these benefits are not exactly straightforward. Let’s walk you through the fine print so you’re guaranteed the results you’re looking for.


Don’t: Mistake Irritation for Exfoliation

Some Vitamin A products can cause dryness, redness, and flaking which is actually irritation—not a true and even exfoliation, like what you get from an ingredient like glycolic acid. Peeling isn’t going to make you looking better. In fact, it’s probably going to make you want to give up on retinol altogether! If you remember nothing else, remember this: Retinols work at a much more profound level. They affect gene expression and enhance collagen production, skin smoothing, even out of pigmentation and thicken the dermis.


Do: Ease into it.

While drier, slightly peeling skin can be part of the process, you want to avoid redness and irritation. So for the first two weeks, apply your Retinol Serum every third night. If your skin isn’t irritated or red, ramp it up to every other night for the next two weeks. Still no flakes or dryness? You’ve got the green light to apply every night.


Don’t: Over do it.  

It won’t do your skin (or your wallet) any good by loading up on the good stuff. You only need to use one pea-size dab to cover your whole face. After a few minutes, apply a basic moisturizer to prevent dryness. 




DO: Stick with it.

When you’re using Retinol, be the turtle not the hare. Many skin care lines claim you’ll see results within weeks. Patience pays off here.  It takes at least 12 weeks for retinol  to produce noticeable changes in the skin—so stick with it for at least that long to see the benefits.


Don’t: Believe Stronger is Superior

Lower concentrations are the perfect retinol for most people, especially if you have sensitive skin or are using a retinol product for the first time.


Do: Bring your Retinol Serum on your Beach Holiday

Retinoids do not increase your risk of sunburn. (This is a common myth). In fact, you’ll need it more than ever because it will not only boost collagen production, but may also have the potential to stop photoaging before it even starts. There’s evidence that retinols prevent the rise of collagenase—the enzyme that breaks down collagen—after UV exposure.



It’s worth mentioning…

  • Don’t use a retinoid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acids (found in our Clear Skin Exfoliating pads) may deactivate retinoids, so don’t layer them.
  • Waxing can cause excess redness on retinoid-treated skin; don’t use a retinoid for several days before your treatment.
  • A small percentage of people with ultrasensitive skin can never tolerate a retinoid; if this is you, use a gentle physical exfoliator twice a week to soften your skin, and be extra-diligent about using SPF to prevent collagen loss in the first place.



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