There’s a reason retinol is one of the most popular skin care ingredients-it do. But it is also one of the most misunderstood. Over-the-counter retinol products are more available than ever before, but their potency makes them intimidating for newcomers. Where do you start? Which product should you use? What about the infamous “purge”? Do not worry! Starting your retinol journey doesn’t have to be scary. To find the right product for you, all you need is patience and a little guidance. That’s why we tapped the experts to discover the best retinol night creams that are both gentle and effective.
Retinol in all its forms has earned itself a well-deserved reputation among beauty lovers because of its transformative results. I first encountered retinol with a prescription for my teenage acne. That prescription eventually ran out and fortunately, my hormones calmed down shortly after. So, as I did with most of my adolescence, I forgot about that period of my life. Then, a few years ago, I was looking for a more sustainable solution to my acne-prone and hyperpigmented skin. Unsurprisingly, I went a bit overboard with acids and at-home scrubs and found myself stuck in a cycle of over-exfoliating, then frantically trying to repair the barrier. protect my damaged skin — this puts both me and my skin under stress.
I’ve been on hiatus for a while. I simplified my routine, focused on repairing my moisture barrier, then decided to give a retinol a try. I spent all those years subconsciously combining retinol with that harmless, clinically relevant prescription, and thinking of it as a puzzling reminder of my awkward teenage years. Finally finally I – finally! – took the plunge, and I haven’t looked back since.
Knowing the tendency to overdo it, I introduced retinol into my routine slowly, and then ton of research. The biggest thing I learned in my own journey? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Follow this golden rule by starting with a good retinol night cream to ensure you are giving your skin back the nourishment it needs as it adjusts and repairs itself. To find the right one for you, look for formulas with antioxidants to balance and soothe skin.
To shed some light on the process, I spoke with a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Elyse love and esthetician/founder Glow Skin Care, Kasey Boone, on all things Vitamin A. They share the do’s and don’ts of retinol, then share some of their favorite products. Read on for expert-approved ways to add this hit ingredient to your own skincare line.
Featured image of Michelle Nash.
What exactly is retinol, and what are the benefits?
Retinol is a topically applied Vitamin A derivative, most commonly used to address lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture. That’s right – it does it all. But how? By stimulating collagen production. According to Kasey Boone, “as we age, our cells can take longer to repair, so this not only encourages cell turnover but also helps increase collagen production and carries Leaves skin smoother, softer and brighter.”
Who can use retinol and who can’t?
Retinol is a great solution for most people who are looking for anti-aging results or skin texture, but there are a few exceptions. “People who are planning a pregnancy, are currently pregnant and/or are breastfeeding should not use retinol,” Dr. Love notes. “People with sensitive skin, eczema, perioral dermatitis and/or rosacea should start taking retinol slowly and use retinol gently.”
What percent is a safe place to start?
Everyone’s skin is different, says Dr. Love, “people with oily to normal skin can choose to start at 0.5, while those with sensitive skin can choose to start with 0.25.” or 0.3. Slow release technologies will be more tolerable than regular retinol of the same strength. “
When to use retinol:
Retinol makes your skin sensitive to the sun, so save it for your nighttime routine. And make sure to upgrade sunscreen when you combine retinol. “Retinol is incredibly effective at exfoliating dead cells and leaving your skin more susceptible to sun damage,” advises Boone. “I always say SPF during the day, retinol at night.”
If you have other active ingredients in your regular product line, like AHAs and BHAs, don’t use them at the same time. Alternate the nights, or wait for your skin to recover. “I advise anyone with rosacea to stay away,” adds Boone. “Also please DO NOT use after peels, lasers, or sunburns. Roaring! ”
As a general rule, talk to a professional before you start using a retinol. “People with significant acne should see a board-certified dermatologist to start using a prescription retinoid rather than an over-the-counter retinol,” says Dr. Love.
How to use retinol?
If you are entering the retinol world for the first time, the best advice is to take your time. Boone advises her clients to be patient: “Like anything new, we like to introduce it slowly so it doesn’t shock the skin too much, which can cause redness, dryness, and irritation,” she notes. strong. Try a night cream that contains soothing ingredients that will allow your skin to better tolerate the retinol. A night cream will also help alleviate any dryness you may experience. Follow up with a cream in the morning to really moisturize your skin.
Dr. Love also recommends increasing your retinol use. A little goes a long way, she told me! “A pea-sized amount is enough for the entire face. Dot it on different areas of the face (forehead, cheeks, chin) and then blend. Start only 2 times/week. Each week, you can increase the frequency of use. If you experience dryness or flaking at any point, reduce frequency of use. Most people will tolerate retinol 3-4 days a week in the winter, although some will tolerate retinol every night and some will stick with 1-2 times/week. I always follow up with a retinol cream with a hydrating moisturizer like Obagi Clinical’s Kinetin + Moisturizing Cream. ”
Remember the golden rule: moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
What to expect when you start taking retinol:
The first few weeks of using retinol can often cause skin flaking. Yes, the dreaded purge is real. But don’t worry! “It may be noticeable but it may not be dramatic,” Dr. Love reassured me. “Because retinol increases cell turnover, acne usually emerges within the first two to four weeks.” You may also experience dry skin, so it is important to choose a moisturizer that is highly moisturizing. After this first phase, you will begin to see results.
But don’t overdo it! According to Boone, your skin can increase its tolerance with regular use over time. It’s best to calculate how long it takes to use retinol to get the results you want. “Your skin can build a tolerance to retinol. It’s another reason why I like to cycle them depending on events and seasons,” she revealed. “If you’re getting ready for a beach vacation or summer is just around the corner, this is another time I’d say back off or even take a break from retinol. Winter is the best time to take a retinol supplement.”
There’s no better time to start than now!
What to look for in a retinol night cream:
Many different factors help find the best retinol night cream for you, not just effectiveness. Love recommends looking for antioxidants like glycerin, niacinamide, and/or hyaluronic acid. They work well with retinol to provide additional repair mechanisms to the skin. “In addition, it is important to consider the delivery mechanism of retinol,” she adds. “Slow release technologies will be more tolerable than regular retinol of the same strength.” Boone’s favorite ingredients are Snow Mushroom extract, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and probiotics.
Read on for some of the best retinol night creams on the market, including some recommended by Dr. Love and Boone.