The 6 Retinols Rules You Need to Know

By Tamara Corin | 23rd February 2022
how to use retinol

Any woman that takes her skincare seriously, knows about the power of the Vitamin A derivative, retinol, yet so much is still misunderstood about the active ingredient and when and how to introduce it into your routine. So, how to use retinol?

Here,Dr. Maryam Zamani, facial aesthetic consultant to the A-list breaks down the facts and fiction for a straightforward guide on retinol rules and we reveal the skincare stars that will soon become your new best friend…

Begin in your mid-20s

Everyone from their mid 20’s onward will benefit from the use of retinol and should increase the percentage with age. It’s perfect to combat the signs of sun damage, loss of elasticity and other signs of ageing. This is a powerhouse ingredient that will greatly enhance skin health and appearance. So, the earlier that retinol becomes part of your skincare regime, the better. Your skin will thank you for years! 

It will get results (as long as you’re patient)

Vitamin A (retinol) can induce the synthesis of collagen and it’s been clinically proven to reduce the signs of UV-induced early skin ageing. It also tackles acne, wrinkles, pigmentary changes, and skin texture too. Frankly, it’s the nearest over-the-counter ingredient that you’ll be able to get your hands on that will challenge ageing and other deep skin conditions, but it doesn’t happen overnight. (Hence why the earlier you begin, the better!)

Integrate retinol slowly and gently

Always start with a low concentration, 1-2 times a week and gently increase to nightly if you think your skin can tolerate it. (With time, progression can be made to prescription-strength tretinoin- the hardcore stuff!). It’s important to remember that retinol increases sensitivity to UV light so daily SPF30+ is an absolute must, whatever the weather!

Read the packaging

Combining retinol with exfoliants or other strong ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can accentuate dryness, redness, and irritation in the short term (but may increase its benefits.)  It is commonly thought that Vitamin C and retinols counteract one another but recent studies suggest they may be synergistic with one another. Use one in the morning and one at night and always with SPF! And if you feel your skin needs a break from retinol, choose the warmer months to take a retinol-free holiday.

Look out for harsh side effects

It’s perfectly normal that retinol can cause mild to moderate skin irritation when first used, so it’s best to start slowly to diminish potential side effects including dryness, flakiness, and irritation. Layering it with hyaluronic acid works well as it provides a great moisturiser. If the retinol causes redness or even peeling, take a break until your skin is healed. If you have sensitive skin, eczema, or rosacea, do a patch test first. And finally, and most importantly, don’t use retinol when you’re breastfeeding or pregnant. 

Sensitive and acne-prone skin CAN use retinol 

Contrary to belief, retinol is an excellent topical ingredient to help reduce sebum production and its prescription version, tretinoin, is a first-line treatment in patients suffering from acne. When treating acne, remember that it takes 6 to 8 weeks to see the benefits of topical skincare. Do not be overly aggressive. Less is most definitely more for acne sufferers and extra-sensitive skin.

The standout retinols to have on your shopping list…

Not interested in knowing about retinol? Check out our affordable French pharmacy buys.

The products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however, The Handbook may make a small commission on some products purchased through affiliate links.

Want to receive more great articles like this every day? Join our daily email now