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How To Use Retinol: Everything You Need to Know

Your Ultimate Guide to Retinol Use

A lot of clients ask us what retinol is and why it’s such a hyped product? This blog post will give you all the information you need to start using retinol correctly.

What is Retinol ?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A, which can be prescribed by your doctor or bought in store. In simple terms, it speeds up your skin cell turn over rate. Which over time helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles but also adds in the growth of new collagen and elastin in your skin. Since the cell turn over rate is increased, it helps fade age/sun spots and soften any texture on your skin. 

Vitamin A is also shown to help unclog pores and combat acne. When used correctly it is a key step in anyone’s skincare routine. Retinol is not for everyone and it’s extremely important to carefully add it to your skincare routine.

  1. Start with the right percentage of retinol 

    Retinol comes in different strength and formulations. Lets keep is simple, the higher the percentage of retinol is, the stronger it is. You always want to start off with the lowest percentage which is usually .25%. Once you finish your first bottle of .25%, when repurchasing your second bottle you can move up to .5% then 1%. 

  2. Using the right amount

    Just a pea size amount is needed for your full face. Most people think the more the better or more effective but that couldn’t be farther from the truth with retinol. Using too much retinol can burn and irritate the skin, causing it to be extremely sensitive in the sun or to the touch. It is extremely important to build up your tolerance slowly and carefully. 

  3. Build up your tolerance 

    Now that you know how much product to be using, you now need to know how to build up your tolerance. Retinol isn’t a product you can apply to your full face everyday when you start introducing it to your skincare routine. Your skin needs to build up a tolerance. We recommend to start using it every three days, if you see no reaction switch to every two days then everyday. If you see your skin getting a bit irritated or flaky you can continue using the retinol every three days until your skin adapts to it then move on to everyday 2 days and so on. The point is to be using it everyday with no reaction.

  4. Apply to the right areas 

    Knowing how to build tolerance is extremely important but so is the placement of the product. Even though Retinol is important in a skincare routine it’s just as important to not over use it. You want to apply your retinol to your problematic areas (forehead, cheeks, chin, nose … etc ) then spread all over your face. You want to avoid your upper and lower eye lids, your lips and your neck. That being said you can more definitely put retinol on your neck but you have to be extremely careful since the skin on your neck is usually more sensitive than your face. In addition to skipping days to build up a tolerance you can also apply moisturizer first, which will be explained in the next guideline.

  5. Add a layer of moisturizer first

    Building up that strength can take some time and some people may only be able to apply retinol twice a week for a month. If you have very sensitive or easily irritated skin you can apply your favourite moisturizer prior to your retinol. This creates a light barrier between your clean skin and the strong retinol. Ideally over time you would be using retinol on clean bare skin but to first build up that tolerance its normal to do it in a safe and controlled way which can be achieved with applying a moisturizer first. 

“Eventually your skin adjusts and you can increase the strength of the treatment and the frequency.”

Armitage, H. (2020, August 6th), Does retinol deserve the hype? A Stanford dermatologist weighs in,

Precaution With Use

Once you have found the right one for your skin and have built up a tolerance, it is important to be consistent in your application. It is also EXTREMELY important to be wearing good sunscreen everyday and reapplying multiple times a day.

Retinol does make your skin more sensitive to the sun. When sunscreen isn’t worn you are doing more damage to your skin.

If you have a hard time committing to a retinol or still aren’t sure where to start you can reach out to our team. We can help you find the correct product for you and help you achieve all your skincare goals.

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