Retinol Takes Time, But It’s Worth It
You may have heard the term “retinol curve” before. But what is it exactly? Simply put, when first using skincare products with retinol, you may experience a short period of dry, red, or itchy skin. This is normal and expected. It’s like running a marathon without doing any training beforehand. Similarly, one needs to slowly build up tolerance to daily use of retinol. Using products with a low percentage of retinol and introducing it slowly into your skin should help alleviate this temporary irritation.
Dermatologists suggest that retinol should be introduced for the first time once or twice a week, and increased slowly over time to allow your skin to acclimate. If using a higher percentage retinol (0.5%, 1% or more), we suggest starting retinol use once a week, then twice a week, and so on, until your skin adjusts. It will not happen overnight, so be prepared to use retinol consistently (for two-to-three months or more) to see its powerful results.
We also recommend skipping your retinol product the day before you exfoliate. Exfoliating can be abrasive and irritating, and you do not want to compound the skin irritation by heightening your skin’s sensitivity. (Note: You should exfoliate your skin two to three times per week.)
Sunscreen use is a MUST when using retinol products, as there will be sun sensitivity with retinol. That’s why we recommend retinol as part of your nighttime skin care routine, and retinol users need to be diligent about applying a daily broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen during the day. We suggest a physical sunscreen in which the key ingredients are titanium dioxide and some zinc, which act as a barrier to the sun by causing UVA/UVB rays to bounce off your skin.
Is Retinol Right for Me?
Retinol products work well for most people and skin types. However, those with skin that is especially sensitive, or with conditions like severe eczema or rosacea, should be cautious with retinol. As some dry, red, itchy skin is typical and expected when first starting retinol (the “retinol curve”), you definitely don’t want intense flaking, redness, or burning. Those are not normal reactions when appropriately using retinol products, and you should cease using them.
The temporary inconveniences experienced during the retinol curve phase are well worth it. Retinol is one of the best things for protecting, enhancing, and keeping your skin looking youthful and healthy. The many benefits of using retinol include:
- Encourages your skin to produce more collagen and elastin, which means firmer skin and fewer wrinkles
- Speeds up skin cell turnover and boosts new healthy skin cell growth so that your complexion glows and is fresh and smooth
- Evens out pigmentation by fading hyperpigmentation (sun and age spots)
- Helps with acne and breakouts by cleaning out pores and increasing circulation in your skin
- Reduces size of large pores
The bottom line? Retinol does work and is worth enduring the curve, where healthier, younger-looking skin resides.