You may have heard that retinol is a magical skincare superstar product, but it’s not that simple. Retinol is generally beneficial for many skin concerns; however, it’s not the easiest product to use. Many people add retinol to their skincare routines without giving it another thought. As a result, they experience burning or irritation. Although these adverse side effects are enough to make anyone quit, you should learn how to use retinol without irritating your skin before writing it off as the wrong solution for you.
What Is Retinol?
Retinol is one of the most popular members of the retinoid family, also known as vitamin A derivatives. Interestingly, these products are the anti-aging stars of the skincare world; retinol is a popular choice because you can get it over the counter, and it’s much less potent than other derivatives.
Why Does it Burn?
Retinols are easily the most effective topical products for anti-aging, and they work by increasing cell turnover. Quick cell turnover is the best way to clear your face of dark spots, clogged pores, blackheads, sun damage, and more and restore the collagen in your skin which keeps fine lines and wrinkles at bay.
However, the tricky part of using retinol is that applying too much of the product can send your skin cell turnover into overdrive, which makes fresh, unprepared skin come to the surface. Consequently, you’ll have red, irritated, and peeling skin.
Various Benefits of Retinol Use
People probably wouldn’t swear by the retinoid family of products if they didn’t have incredible benefits for your skin. Whether you have an active skin concern or simply want to prevent issues, consider these advantages of adding retinol to your skincare regimen:
- Regulates sebum (natural oil) production
- Reduces wrinkles and fine lines
- Helps reverse sun spots and other damage
- Increases collagen production for firm and plump skin
- Speeds up cell turnover to quickly heal your skin woes
With these various benefits, retinol is nearly irresistible for many people. If you want to reap the rewards of using a vitamin A derivative but don’t want to experience the potential irritation and dryness, read on to learn more about avoiding retinol burn.
How To Avoid Burning and Irritation
Because the potential benefits are so incredible, it can be tempting to jump right in and add retinol to your daily routine. However, doing so can cause painful irritation and visible redness and dryness. With that in mind, follow along to discover the best ways to use retinol and ensure you don’t have a terrible experience.
Use the Lowest Dosage Possible
If you’ve never used retinol before, consider starting with the lowest dosage possible and using it no more than twice a week for four weeks. If you don’t experience any unpleasant symptoms, you can bump up your usage to every other day. You should stay at this point for several months to give your skin a chance to adjust before attempting daily use.
Use Hydrating and Soothing Products in Addition
Because retinol products can cause dryness and irritation, you should ensure your other skincare products work to counter those effects. For instance, you should consider using a hydrating cleanser and moisturizer containing aloe, glycerin, oats, and hyaluronic acid to provide moisture to your skin as it undergoes rapid turnover from the retinol.
Start with Short Contact
If you’re worried about the potential side effects of using retinol, you can start with a short contact approach. Apply the retinol serum to your clean skin and then wash it off after letting it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. This practice will help your skin adjust to retinol use and minimize the side effects until you can leave it on overnight.
Use the Sandwich Method
Aside from using the short contact technique, you can also utilize the sandwich method when it comes to your retinol application. Simply apply a hydrating moisturizer to your skin before and after using the retinol serum—hence, the term “sandwiching.” While this may seem excessive, it’s an excellent way to counter retinol’s side effects.
Avoid Other Active Ingredients in the Same Routine
Because retinol is an incredibly potent and active ingredient, you should avoid using any other active ingredients in the same routine. For instance, consider skipping your AHAs, vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and BHAs for the first few weeks of using retinol. After a few weeks, you can add them back to your skincare regimen on your non-retinol days.
Treating Retinol Burn
If you’re very cautious about introducing retinol into your skincare routine, you shouldn’t experience too many unpleasant side effects. However, if you do experience a case of retinol burn, you should stop use immediately and treat your skin before beginning a new routine. If the burn is bad enough, you may have to see a dermatologist for further treatment instructions before doing anything else.
On the other hand, you may be able to heal your skin on your own for minor cases using a healing skin protectant, gentle cleansers, and hydrating moisturizers. Follow these helpful tips for treating retinol burn:
- Don’t wait until you’re peeling and in pain to stop retinol use.
- As soon as you feel uncomfortable or have tight skin, stop using it immediately.
- Avoid using any active ingredients while your skin is healing. You don’t need to exfoliate your peeling skin away.
- Apply hydrating moisturizers and skin protectants to restore your skin’s barrier.
- Wait until your skin is back to its normal state before slowly re-introducing retinol back into your skincare routine.
Even if you experience uncomfortable reactions to retinol use, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Consider trying a complete skincare kit for acne-prone skin to ensure your face looks incredible while adjusting to retinol products.
Knowing how to use retinol without irritating your skin is an important part of skincare, as it can cause real damage to your skin’s health otherwise. Whether you want to see clearer skin, a brighter complexion, or reduced wrinkles, you should consider slowly adding retinol to your skincare arsenal—it may work wonders for your skin’s overall appearance and texture.