A Beginners Guide to using retinol without the pesky side effects

You know you should include retinol in your skincare routine. But you have heard the horror stories about redness, dryness, flaking all that sounds like a big fat no.

You want the benefits darn it. All the science shows that retinol reverses the signs of ageing and improves the texture of the skin. This post will show you how to do it right by highlighting the most common mistakes newbies make.

And what you should do instead. First retinol should be part of your routine from your mid-twenties. Because that is when the collagen levels in the skin start to drop and using retinol helps with that.

Step 1: Start with an Over the Counter (OTC) Retinoid

Choosing the wrong type of retinoid is the first mistake most newbies make.
Retinoids come in different forms, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription. You should always start with OTC retinoids and build up to a perception retinoid.

How to choose:

Avoid products like Tretinoin, Retin A, or prescription products. Start with products that you see in the pharmacy or the shops.
Here are some beginner-friendly products

  • The Ordinary Granactive retinoid 2% in squalane
  • Indeed Labs retinol reface skin resurfaced
  • Alpha H vitamin A 0.5%m

Step 2: Start with the Lowest Concentration

When starting out with retinoids it’s tempting to go for a high concentration. Because you want results fast.
But that is a bad idea because the higher the concentration the more the side effects for a beginner. Also, your skin goes through a process of retinization and we want it to be as smooth as possible.

So start with the lowest concentration available then there. The results from retinol come over time so think a marathon, not a sprint.

How to choose:

OTC retinoids start from 0.25% up to 1% depending on the type of product. Use the lowest concentration for a few months until your skin you dont have any visible side effects. Before you move to a higher dose.

Step 3: Start Slow

I know I know it was all the rage a few months ago to load your skin with actives. But, that is a recipe for disaster, a damaged skin barrier, and some tears. Retinol increases the cell turnover of your skin cells making them more sensitive.

Can you say dryness and flaking?

This means you don’t need to use retinol daily especially because you need to give your skin time to recover. This is especially important when you are starting out. Start at 1-2 times a week then build up to every other day depending on how your skin reacts.

Hence the moto starts slow.

Step 4: Don’t use exfoliants (AHA/BHA) in the Same Routine

Consider the rest of your routine when you include retinol in your routine. While actives like AHA/BHAs and enzymes play their role in your routine they should be used at the same time. Or your skin barrier will get damaged over time.

Exfoliants remove dead skin cells & retinol does a similar thing. Using them together is counterproductive. So alternate their use.
For example:

  • Monday -AHA
  • Tuesday-Skip,
  • Wednesday -Retinol,
  • Thursday -Skip,
  • Friday -AHA,

This way you get the benefits of both worlds without the side effects.

Step 5: Always Wear Sunscreen

A picture of Uriage sunscreen on white back ground

Sunscreen isn’t negotiable on a normal day. But it goes from I see you want wrinkles to I will call the cops when you add retinol to the mix. You need a broad-spectrum high SPF sunscreen yesterday and I am not kidding.
Retinol increases skin sensitivity to the sun. This means you will burn faster if you skip your sunscreen!

This is also one of the reasons you should only use retinol AT NIGHT! or you are attempting to dance with the devil. A colleague used retinol during the day without sunscreen. Her skin burned here isn’t words to describe it she is dealing with the repercussions.

To learn more about how to include other actives in your routine, get the book LOOK YOUNGER LONGER – The Beginners Guide. You can start with the first chapter for absolutely FREE!

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Take a sneak peek of all these in chapter 1. Now imagine what you get in the rest of the eBook, you don’t have to there are multiple reviews 

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