5 Tips for Introducing Retinol to Your Routine

Retinol is an amazing skincare ingredient but there’s a catch - retinol can be high maintenance to include in your skincare routine. It’s not the sort of thing you use once or twice and it works - you’ve got to introduce it to your routine the right way to ensure your skin gets the most of this fantastic ingredient. Here are our 5 tips for adding retinol to your skincare routine!

1) Take It Slow At First

Because of how retinol works, it's the kind of skincare ingredient you need to gently ease yourself into - not jump in headfirst! Although, we don’t blame you considering retinol is an absolutely fantastic proven anti-ageing, radiance-boosting, and future-proofing skincare ingredient. 

Retinol and your skin need more time than other skincare ingredients to get to know each other. It’s tempting to start using it every single night but that’s a recipe for dry, irritated skin.

Our tips? Start with applying your retinol product twice a week for around 3-4 weeks to begin with, then upping to 3x a week for 3-4 weeks, working up to a frequency that suits your routine and the other actives that you might use. 

elizabeth arden retinol ceramide capsules line erasing night serum product image on white backgroundElizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules | $190
These capsules combine the power of retinol with ceramides for a potent, nourishing retinol serum.

While your skin adapts to retinol, your skin might feel drier than it usually is, or more sensitive. This should eventually stop as your skin adjusts to this powerhouse skincare ingredient. However, it’s important to remember that these side effects aren’t a sign that retinol is working or not - if you don’t get them, it doesn’t mean your retinol isn’t potent or isn’t working! You’re just one of the lucky ones!

If your skin feels extremely dry, peeling, and red, you may have overdone it - in this case, you’re better off letting your skin and moisture barrier heal with some super-soothing skincare ingredients like panthenol and niacinamide, before giving retinol another go (and taking it slower this time)!

2) Be Ready to Commit!

Retinol takes commitment - using retinol in your skincare routine isn’t a matter of using it when you remember! Retinol fundamentally influences how your skin behaves, and you’re not going to get the results you want by being inconsistent with application and usage. It’s not a skincare ingredient for those with beauty commitment issues - you’ve got to be all the way in with retinol!

Committing to using retinol also means sticking to a specific type of retinol product - not all retinol products are made equal, and may have different concentrations and strengths which ultimately influence your results. Our tip? Stick with one retinol product (preferably a serum) at a time to really make sure you’re giving your skin the best shot when it comes to retinol. 

dr irena eris neometric capsules product image on white backgroundDr Irena Eris Neometric Anti-Wrinkle Capsules | $149
Combine retinol with peptides for a super-charged anti-aging treatment!

3) Committing to Retinol = Committing to SPF

Think of retinol and SPF as a two for one deal. You need to use SPF while you use retinol (and AHAs) in your beauty routine. Why? Well, retinol works hard to reverse the signs of photodamage - that is, the signs of damage from the sun’s UVA rays.

This can include premature wrinkles, loss of volume, and uneven skin tone. When it comes down to it, minimising the causes of photoaging is equally as important as treating existing signs with a powerful ingredient like retinol. 

If you use retinol without sunscreen, you’re essentially going in circles - potentially causing more photodamage while still trying to patch up the existing signs. You won’t see any real results, especially if you’re skipping the sunscreen!

Sisley all day all year product image on white backgroundSisley All Day All Year | $495
Sisley combines the power of antioxidants and UV filters with this lightweight, potent serum-suncreen hybrid.

4) Give Your Skin a Hydration Boost

This is crucial - especially in the early stages of using retinol. Many people find that their regular moisturiser just doesn’t seem to be enough for their skin. To help your skin along in the retinol process, really amp up your hydration and moisture - even if you have oily skin.

Great ways to do this include adding a hydrating serum (or two) to your routine, using a facial spray, sheet masking regularly, using a facial oil, and using an occlusive like vaseline or papaw on ointment on very dry spots to help reduce any visibly flaky bits and dryness. 

Using ingredients like Panthenol, Niacinamide, and Ceramides can help your skin adapt to retinol better, too - they help to support a healthy moisture barrier, keeping that essential hydration in your skin and keeping dryness at bay!

lancome rose milk mist product image on white backgroundLancôme Rose Milk Mist | $54
Give your skin a serious hydration boost with this nurturing face mist from Lancôme.

5) Pause All Other Actives

If TikTok and Twitter are anything to go by, this is what most people struggle with the most - giving up their other actives (temporarily) to let their skin adjust to retinol. This is a highly, highly suggested tip that goes hand in hand with starting retinol slowly. 

One reason why this is crucial is that using too many other actives, especially ones like AHAs, BHAs, and Vitamin C at the same time can prolong how irritated and dry your skin is, especially during the crucial first few weeks of using retinol. 

Once your skin is fully adjusted, you can start adding all your active faves back to your skincare routine again - one at a time to avoid over-exfoliation and irritation!

Now that you know our five top tips for adding this anti-aging powerhouse to your skincare routine, will you be starting retinol any time soon?

Still trying to sort out your perfect skincare routine? Let us do it for you with our skincare quiz!

Beauty Affairs Skin Quiz

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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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