How to Incorporate Retinol Into Your Skincare Routine


A staple skincare ingredient, retinol is highly effective in combating fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. It also encourages skin cell turnover, suitable for dealing with dark spots or discoloration.


But because retinol can cause dryness and redness, it’s essential to use it sparingly. We suggest applying it 2-3 times a week to acclimate your skin.

Apply in the Morning

If you’re a beauty-lover intent on preserving as much of your youthful skin as possible, retinol is an ingredient that should be in your arsenal. Dermatologists have hailed this powerful anti-aging product as one of the most effective at fighting wrinkles and other skin care concerns like acne.

However, when it comes to using retinol, consistency is critical. It takes about 12 weeks of consistent use to begin seeing results, especially when addressing fine lines and wrinkles. Considering how vital this ingredient can be, finding the correct formulation for your skin type and gradually adding it to your routine is essential.

Applying retinol to dry skin (rather than damp) can help avoid irritation and over-exfoliation. If you’re sensitive, use a hydrating toner before applying your retinol.


Once you’ve developed a tolerance to your retinol, consider alternating it with other active ingredients in your skincare lineup. For example, swap out glycolic acid for retinol the first night you use it, and then use your favorite glycolic the next night. Always finish your routine with broad-spectrum sunscreen, as retinol makes the skin more sensitive to sun damage.

Apply in the Evening

Retinol (aka vitamin A) is the holy grail of skincare ingredients for its ability to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, fight acne, and fade dark spots. But while beauty lovers and dermatologists are constantly raving about it, there are a lot of myths surrounding how and when to use it.

First off, it’s essential to ease your skin into retinol. Start using it a few times a week (and only a pea-sized amount) and increase that frequency as your skin becomes accustomed to it. It’s also important to moisturize in between retinol applications as it helps keep your face hydrated.

Lastly, remember always to finish off your routine with sunscreen. Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so protecting your complexion is essential.

After cleansing and patting your skin dry:

  1. Squeeze a pea-sized dab of retinol onto the tip of your index finger.
  2. Dot your retinol around the forehead, the center of your face/cheeks, and three points on the chin/jawline.
  3. Gently massage it into the skin.
  4. Repeat this step each night before bed.

Apply in the Night

Retinol is one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients around. It can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, help fade dark spots, promote cellular turnover, and even improve the appearance of pores. It’s no wonder it’s often called the Holy Grail of skincare!

However, knowing how and when to use retinol properly is essential. Otherwise, it cannot be enjoyable and even cause peeling. It’s also best to apply retinol in the evening, as it can be sensitive to sunlight and become less effective.

But why does retinol dry out your skin, and why do you need to start using it? It would help if you started using retinol in your late 20s or early 30s and gradually increased its usage. It can take up to 12 weeks for your skin to acclimate to the ingredient, so be patient.

Moreover, you should always apply a hydrating serum or moisturizer after your retinol cream or serum. This will prevent your skin from becoming too dry and uncomfortable. If you have more dehydrated skin, you can add an occlusive ointment to the areas of your face where you may experience more irritation.

Apply in Combination with Acids

Retinol is one of the most potent exfoliants that can help improve a variety of skincare concerns. It can target fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, acne, and dullness. However, it’s important to note that it can cause various side effects, such as irritation and flaking.


The key is to introduce retinol into your skincare routine gradually. It is also essential to apply a moisturizer before or after using products that contain it. Moisturizers can help prevent dryness and support the skin while adjusting to this active ingredient.

Finally, avoiding applying other acids in the same routine as retinol is a good idea. This can cause too much chemical exfoliation and lead to skin irritation.

Pairing retinol with other anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid is a great alternative. Hyaluronic acid is a hydrator that won’t cause chemical exfoliation, so it’s safe to use with retinol. It’s also a great way to help balance the skin and avoid redness or irritation. Then, follow your retinol with your favorite moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning.

Apply in Combination with Other Actives

Acids and retinol are skincare lovers’ best friends, but overusing or misapplying them can damage the skin. It’s important to start slow and stick with it, choosing high-potency products and even considering skin cycling (using an AHA one night, retinol the next, and then back to an AHA) to avoid over-exfoliation.

Retinol is the MVP of anti-aging ingredients, with a long list of impressive benefits, including smoothing wrinkles and blemishes, stimulating collagen production, and diminishing uneven pigmentation caused by sun damage. But, it’s not without its downsides: the ingredient can irritate and dry, and you must avoid sun exposure.


The good news is that there are several ingredients you can use with retinol to enhance its effectiveness and reduce irritation – like Bakuchiol. This plant-based active can deeply condition and hydrate skin, making it a great addition to a Retinol regimen, especially for mature or sun-damaged skin types. It also works well with ceramides, which help support the skin barrier and hydration. For the most effective results, apply a retinol serum first, then follow with a moisturizing product containing these ingredients.

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