How Long for Retinol to Show Results?

Retinol is an amazing skincare ingredient - it’s definitely the gold standard of what you can use at home to get the best anti-ageing results possible. However, with that said - it can take a little while to see results. Why? Retinol has a unique way of affecting skin - here’s exactly how it works. 

How Does Retinol Work?

Understanding how long it can take to see results from retinol has to do with understanding just how does retinol work in the first place.

All the benefits of retinol come from its ability to influence skin’s natural turnover - it’s able to speed it up. By pressing the gas pedal on skin cell turnover and the renewal cycle, retinol stimulates collagen production in skin. It does this in a slightly different way to exfoliating acids, though; comparing them, exfoliators have a top-down approach, while retinol’s effect on skin is from the bottom-up. 

In other words, it’s able to affect the deeper parts of the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of our skin) which results in changes on the more superficial parts. That’s why it takes time to see results - but they're definitely worth it. 

Elizabeth arden retinol ceramides capsules on white background

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules | $190
Using capsule technology to ensure each dose is just as fresh as the last, this retinol ceramide serum is designed to fight off wrinkles and nourish skin.

Does Retinol Work the Same Way as Other Retinoids?

What makes retinol different from other retinoids is that it needs to be converted into trans-retinoic acid before it can be used by the skin. Prescription retinoids on the other hand, like the kind to treat acne, don’t need to be converted which is why they’re so strong and prescription-only.

Retinol has fewer side effects than its full strength relatives - not everyone undergoes these, but it’s good to be prepared. Some common (but temporary) side effects that you might notice when using a retinol product include redness, dryness, and peeling. Think of it as an adjustment period - it shouldn’t last longer than a few weeks. 

If you notice this happening to you, take note - here’s a couple of tips to make sure your retinol is still working as it should.

Tip 1: Frequency of Application

With retinol, it’s actually recommended that you start using it slowly. Start by using it every other night for a few weeks, before bumping up to nightly use.

Tip 2: Boost Hydration

Adding skincare such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide will go a long way to ensuring your skin doesn’t get too dry on your retinol journey!

These ingredients will help to ensure that your skin is still getting the hydration it needs while in this adjustment period. It’s also important to understand that if none of these things happen to you, that’s fine too! They’re not meant to be ‘signs’ that your retinol is working - if you’re applying it frequently enough, I promise it’s working, even if you can’t see it yet! 

GA-DE retiage serum product image on white background
GA-DE Retiage Multi Rejuvenate Serum | $105
This serum helps to rejuvenate skin with a combination of retinol and plant extracts for glowing, youthful skin.

What Results Can I Expect from Retinol?

The great thing about retinol (and the entire retinoid family) is that they’re incredibly well-researched and have a plethora of scientific backing for their effects on fighting off the signs of ageing. Here are all of the possible things that you can expect from using retinol regularly - emphasis on regularly!

  • Reduce the appearance of sun damage
  • Minimise wrinkles and fine lines
  • Even skin tone
  • Supports collagen production
  • Improve skin texture
  • Firm skin
  • Fade hyperpigmentation
  • May reduce acne
  • Reduces loss of collagen

So, now for the million-dollar question: how long does it take retinol to work? When am I going to see results from retinol? 

Dr Irena Eris neometric capsules product image on white background

Dr Irena Eris Neometric Anti-Wrinkle Capsules | $149
These capsules use the power of peptides and retinol to reduce the apperance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

How Long Does Retinol Take to Work?

According to dermatologist Dr Patricia Farris, it can take up to 3-6 months to start noticing a difference, while best results are seen from 6-12 months. I know what you’re thinking - why does it take so long? Well, it all has to do with the skin cycle - remember? 

While retinol starts working on your skin from day one, it needs to go through multiple skin cycles for the changes it begins to make underneath the surface to become visible to the naked eye. It’s possible that you might be able to notice changes after just a few weeks, mainly when it comes to pigmentation - however, if you really want to make a difference in fine lines and wrinkles, you’ve got to be ready for the long haul.

The great thing about retinol is that it plays well with antioxidants and peptides - both fantastic ingredients for helping to target many of the same signs of ageing (albeit in a slightly different way). Using antioxidants like Resveratrol and Vitamin C could be a welcome addition to your beauty routine to hopefully get those skin-firming results sooner, rather than later!

Products Mentioned:

  • Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules | $190
  • GA-DE Retiage Multi Rejuvenate Serum | $105
  • Dr Irena Eris Neometric Anti-Wrinkle Capsules | $149
  • Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne

    Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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