When to Start Using Retinol: The Ultimate Guide

It is not a secret that retinol is a trendy ingredient in today’s world of beauty. The skin care experts rave about its efficacy in reversing skin aging. However, you might be afraid to integrate it into your beauty routine because you simply don’t know if your skin is ready. Scroll down to find out what is the best age to start using retinol.

when to start using retinol

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A – the first vitamin approved by the FDA as an anti-aging agent. It belongs to the well-known category of retinoids.

What Does Retinol Do?

When to Start Using Retinol?

There is no set time for starting retinol treatment. Still, the 20s and early 30s are considered to be too soon for its powerful formula. Why so? In the 20s, cells renew every 24-30 days. This cycle is short enough to maintain luminous skin looking, even if the process of loosening collagen has been started. The timeline only lengthens as we get older. In your mid to late 30s, cell turnover is noticeably slowing down. Hence this is the right time to introduce retinol to your daily skincare. But be advised, it’s not always fun and games. Don’t overuse this formula because when it comes to retinol, “too much of a good” can be harmful.

How Does Retinol Work?

When applied to the skin, retinol enters the stratum corneum and slightly penetrates the dermis. The formula starts working once it gets to the middle layer of the skin. At the very beginning, the skin goes through an adaptation process – “retinization.” The skin might be dry and red upon applying a product in the first two to three weeks. This process is a normal part of the treatment, so don’t freak out. Instead, keep going to use it until your skin starts to clear.

How to Use Retinol?

  1. Start with a pea-sized amount of a low percentage over-the-counter formula. A minimal dose for newbies or anyone with ultra-sensitive skin is 0.25%.
  2. For the first time, use the product once, then wait for 4 days to check the skin reaction. If you notice redness, irritation, or stinging, apply retinol no more often than every 3-4 days for the first 2-3 weeks. After the “retinization” period, use the product every other night and watch for any side effects.
  3. If you still experience stinging and irritation with your current formula, apply ceramide-enriched moisturizer to your skin first to act as a buffer.
  4. Wear SPF daily because sunlight reduces the efficacy of the product.
  5. It shouldn’t be used before you go tanning or before you will be spending extended time in direct sunlight.
  6. Skip your retinol product on the day before you exfoliate or do in-office treatments like lasers, microdermabrasion, and micro-needling.
  7. Keep using retinol for 3 months, then take a break for 3 months.
When to Start Using Retinol?

What are the Side Effects of Retinol?

While mild irritation, dryness, and sun sensitivity for the first 2-3 weeks of use are typical as your skin adapts to the product. Excessive flaking and burning are not a normal part of the process. Retinol can be tricky on sensitive skin, rosacea, and eczema. It can still be useful but easily irritate. In this case, you should consider a retinol alternative, such as bakuchiol. It tends to be less aggressive.

How Does Retinol Interact with Other Products?

Harmony and balance are two sides of the same coin. However, some skincare enthusiasts frequently mix different ingredients with little idea of whether the combinations are reasonable. With so many products appearing in the market, it’s easy to see how skincare routines can become disorganized. Let’s see what we should temporarily give up and what is advisable to incorporate into the skincare routine while using retinol.

DO Mix With Retinol DON’T Mix With Retinol
Hyaluronic Acid Vitamin C
Ceramides Benzoyl Peroxide
Peptides AHA/BHA Acids

When Do I See the Result from Retinol?

The truth is retinol offers the same benefits as prescribed retinoids but acts slowly. Usually, it takes up to 2 – 12 weeks to see the effect.