Retinoids are a powerful and scientifically-proven ingredient with a wide range of skincare applications. A derivative of vitamin A, Retinoids can help with everything from reducing wrinkles to treating acne, brown spots and hyperpigmentation. The catch? Retinoid use comes with some specific instructions that you’ll need to keep in mind if you want to maximize their benefits while keeping your skin safe.
First and foremost start slow
If you are going to use retinoids, spot test it first. See how your skin is tolerating it. If after using the retinoids, you start getting some redness and dryness that you don’t like, then slow down on it. Start slowly and increase gradually over time. Begin by applying every week, then every third day, then every other night before ramping up as needed. Applying too much too quickly can lead to redness, dryness and irritation, so it’s best to start off small and work your way up to allow your skin to acclimatize with the products. Should your skin become irritated or remain irritated, or if your skin cannot tolerate the retinoids (get too irritated), stop using retinoids at once. Talk to your skin specialist, plastic surgeon or dermatologist before you start using retinoids and for guidance. Also talk to them if you have any question about how and when to use retinoids. Remember if you’re pregnant, planning to be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding – Retinoids are absolutely contraindicated in this setting, and should be discussed with your gynecologist.
Second, stick to the evening
Retinoids should always be used at night, as sunlight can decrease their efficacy and cause them to break down more quickly. It’s also important to note that you may experience some initial dryness or peeling when using a retinoid—this is normal but could result in increased sensitivity if exposed to sunlight throughout the day.
Then, layer correctly
If you’re using other active ingredients in addition to your retinoids, it’s important that you layer them correctly. Start with the lightest products first and gradually move up to heavier consistencies. This will ensure that each product is properly absorbed and that the retinoid isn’t “trapped” beneath a thicker layer. If you are using vitamin C in your regimen, it is preferable that you use vitamin C in the morning and retinoid in the evening to obviate the potential for skin irritation.
Use an SPF
Sunscreen is always important, but it’s especially critical when using a retinoid. The active ingredients in retinoids can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, making you more prone to sunburns and other damage. Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every single day—no exceptions!
With all this knowledge in mind, if you are over the age of 30, it’s time to get started incorporating a retinoid into your skin care routine. However, if you are pregnant, planning to be pregnant, are breastfeeding, you should not use retinoids. All retinoids products are contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Remember also that everyone’s skin is different, so be sure to thoroughly read the ingredients and do patch test with those products before you use them. And don’t forget—sunscreen is always a must when you are using retinoids.
Following these guidelines will help ensure that your skin is getting all the benefits of a retinoid without any of the irritations or redness. Ready to get started? Consider consulting a skin specialist, plastic surgeon, or dermatologist for your questions about which retinoid products is best for you. Happy retinoiding!
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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information provided here is based on research and anecdotal evidence from Dr. Tardieu’s cases and experience, and does not constitute a professional opinion or recommendation. Before undergoing any facial treatments and/or surgical procedures, please consult your primary care specialist, skin specialist, plastic surgeon, or cosmetic dermatologist to ensure that mentioned skin treatments is safe for you. Neither Dr. Marie-Ange D. Tardieu, Tardieu Skin Clinic, Anoki Skin Clinic, Skin Post, their employee agents or associates accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from following the information in this article. Additionally, individual results may vary and any perceived benefits of treatments/procedures should not be taken as a guarantee of similar outcomes for each patient.