Retinol: 11 Myths Debunking Facts About Retinol[ A Beginner’s Detailed Guide To Retinol]


Retinol cream and evening serums with a retinol concentration are the holy grail of better skincare as you get older. A derivative of vitamin A, Retinol is widely used by both women and men over 40 as it has a long list of insane benefits, which include: 

While retinol is well-liked for its long list of proven benefits, retinol use pretty much like other skincare products also comes with its fair share of side effects, like irritation and redness.

In a recent publication, Canadian based dermatologist Julia Carroll at Toronto-based Compass Dermatology, along with renowned medical and aesthetician Amanda Mizen, owner of Toronto-based North Medical Spa, shared their treasured retinol user guides for beginners, especially those seeking advice on how to incorporate retinol into their daily skincare routine. 

But that’s not all; I have curated some of the best retinol serums and evening creams for you to peruse. Whether you are a retinol beginner user or somewhat a regular user, our picks for the best retinol formulas as based on tips and insights from industry titans.

What Is Retinol

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. It can be used topically to provide so many benefits for the skin. When the retinol is used typically, it turns into Retinoic acid. You will find retinol in various skincare and beauty products. 

It can also also be prescribed to you. Retinol helps to make the skin soft, smooth and also gives it a radiant glow. It can also reduce the fine lines as well as wrinkles. 

Retinol also comes in different strengths. The kind of strengths you use will depend on if you are using it for the first or have been using it for a long time. 

When buying products that contain retinol, make sure that the product does not include Retin A but includes Retinol. Retin A is very strong as compared to retinol. 

What Does Retinol do?

With the popularity of Retinoid serums and evening facial creams on the rise from year after year, you are probably wondering why Retinol is the skincare ingredient every dermatologist is recommending for aging women. But, what does Retinol do?

According to Havard health, routine use of Retinol helps you fade age-related skin conditions, targets superficial skin pigmentation, and speeds up essential skin cell turnover, leading to fading of traumatic scarring of the skin dark spots. Skincare products with a measured concentration of Retinoids are the best for those who want to reduce fine lines, smooth out visible wrinkles and maintain smooth glowing skin in your later years.

Can I Use Retinol And Retinoid Together?

Retinol and Retinoids may look like entirely different skincare ingredients; however, the term Retinoid represents a group of vitamin A derivatives, which includes Retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinoic acid. 

So, if you are wondering whether using both Retinol and Retinoids is better or beneficial, you should understand that Retinol is just one of the types of retinoids

Nonetheless, it’s only fair that I also point out that, while retinoid is an umbrella term, some of these retinoids are only available as prescription-strength forms of vitamin A that you can not buy over the counter.

 Its skincare retinoids like adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin are only available for use via your chemist prescription. But, should you be combining Retinol and Retinoids use inside your skincare routine?

Combining Retinol and Retinoids skincare products is discouraged as the layering of two varying retin A concentration in skin products is one you should approach with care! Retinol serums and evening creams often contain vitamin-A-derived products—commonly used in its over-the-counter form. 

The measure of such concentration is regulated to target enough Retinol amounts for effectively—treating acne, fighting superficial signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, and unclog pores while evening out the skin tone. 

How long before Retinol works on acne?

There is nothing wrong with having a higher expectation once you begin to use Retinol to treat acne, unclog pores or get rid of dark spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. But, how long should someone use Retinol on acne-prone skin before seeing visible results that Retinol is actually working?

2 to 3 months of regular use of Retinol daily is how long it takes before you see the significant and visible impact of Retinol working on your acne-prone skin. While many acne sufferers want to see quick results or at least sure signs that Retinol is working once they begin, it takes a robust skincare routine for acne to start fading. With a few select skincare products with Retinol inside your skincare routine over time, you will start seeing the benefits of Retinol at work on your skin. 

The key here is that results with Retinol won’t be instant or overnight; you need to use it regularly, layering it with Hyaluronic acid moisturizers for up to 2 or 3 months to begin seeing results.

Why Use Retinol? Skincare Benefits Of Using Retinol?

Using retinol has a lot of benefits for your skin. The following are some of the benefits of using retinol on your skin. 

Retinol helps to clear up acne. It works by unclogging the pores on your skin. It will also clear up your skin in order to prevent more outbreaks on your skin. It also helps to regulate oil production on the skin. 

Retinol prevents wrinkles and other signs of aging. It is an anti-aging ingredient that will get rid of fine lines as well as wrinkles. It has the ability to improve collagen production. Therefore, improving the skin’s elasticity. 

Retinol also helps to give your skin an even tone. It does this by stimulating cell turn over which gives you new and brighter skin tone. It also fades dark spots and helps in dealing with hyperpigmentation. 

Should All Skin Types Use Retinol?

Retinol is suitable for all skin types. However, those that have sensitive skin types need to be cautious. This is because adjusting to the ingredients can be a little hard for this skin type. 

Retinol is not recommended for those people that have damaged skin or over-exfoliated skin. Pregnant women are advised to not use retinol. 

Before using retinol products, you need to consider your skin type. If the retinol formulation is too strong, it can cause irritation on your skin. Using retinol frequently also causes irritation. Therefore, it’s essential that you balance up how you use it on your skin.

What Age Is Best To Start Using Retinol?

Mid 20 to 30 years of age is best for starting to use retinol. However, incorporating a skincare product with retinol (evening retinol cream or serum with retinol) shouldn’t have to align with a specific age to start using Retinol. According to most experts, the best time to start using retinol is in your mid 20s or your early 30’s. This is because the production of elastin starts to slow down in the mid-20s. 

Using retinol will help to boost up elastin and give your skin anti-aging benefits. When you notice some wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet, it is a sign that you may need to start using retinol. You should first try out the retinol and see how your skin reacts to it. 

How much retinol should a beginner use?

The amount of retinol that you use on your skin will be determined by your skin type, skin concerns as well as how your skin tolerates it. 

If you are a beginner, it is advised that you start with a small percentage of the retinol, around 0.025%. As time goes by, you will increase the percentage and how frequently you use it. 

If you have skin concerns like psoriasis, eczema, or inflammation, it is advised that you have a talk with your dermatologist before using the product. 

How do I Incorporate Retinol Into My Skincare Routine As A Beginner?

There are various ways in which you can incorporate Retinol into your skincare routine. You can use the low and slow method of using the night skincare routine. 

Use it at night

You can incorporate Retinol by using it in your night skincare routine. This is because retinol can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the skin. If you use Retinol during the day, make sure you wear a sunscreen that has at least 50 SPF so that your son is protected from the sun.

Do not use it frequently

Retinol should not be used every single night. You should start by using the retinol once a week at night. It should not be used every day as this can cause flakiness or redness on your skin. 

Use a small amount

As a beginner, the need for excercising caution is paramount when introducing retinol into your skincare routine. Therefore, make sure that you do not use too much of the retinol. Instead use a pea-size amount of the retinol. Too much of the product can also cause your skin irritation.

Mix It Up

You can also mix up the retinol with your moisturizer in order to ensure that your skin can properly adjust to it. This helps in ensuring that the retinol product is gentle on your skin. This is a very good technique if your skin is very sensitive. After your skin has adjusted to it, you can then start using the retinol directly without mixing it with a moisturizer. 

The Low And Slow Retinol Method

The low and slow method is a technique of incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine. The low and slow method involves starting with a small amount of the retinol. You should then apply it one a single night. After application, you wait a few days in order to see if your skin tolerates the retinol.

 Chances are that your skin may not react badly to it, then you can try it again. If your skin reacts badly, the experts recommend that you try mixing it with your moisturizer. You should then gradually increase how you use the retinol. 

Why Do Some Skin Types React To Retinol?

There are several reasons why certain skin types can react to Retinol use. Some of the reasons include: 

Using retinol too often: The skin can react to Retinol when you use too often. Using retinol frequently can cause skin irritation, redness and flakiness. 

Using Retinol in high amounts When you use too much of retinol, it can also lead to redness, flaking, irritation and cause your skin to react to it. 

Using harsh treatments: Harsh treatments like exfoliating the skin or using acne treatments can cause damage to the sin or make it vulnerable. When you use Retinol while the sin is over-exfoliated, it can react to the product. 

Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin needs a gentle touch. Using retinal on skin that is sensitive can cause it to become inflamed. 

What To Do If Your Skin Has A Bad Reaction To Retinol?

Dealing with Retinol reactions is easy. This is because most of the time the reaction is either irritation or dryness. 

If the irritation on your skin is too much, it is advisable to stop the retinol treatment for sometime. You should also stop applying any other products that have retinol as well as active ingredients in their formulation. 

Once the reaction is gone, you can then try the retinol product again. However, make sure to do a patch test so that you are sure that your skin won’t react to the retinol. 

What Is The Best Form Of Retinol To Use On Your Skin?

As a beginner, a low retinol concetration dose of 0.025% is advised to be what is best for a skin that has never used retinol serum or cream with retinol. Assuming that your skin has no adverse reactions, then you can slowly begin to incrementally move up to a much higher retinol concetration percentage. 

(Needless to mention here that depending on which country, over the counter retinol concetration is regulated. And for Canadian consumers, the highest percentage available without a prescription in Canada is 1%.)


Retinol has so many benefits for the skin. It includes a lot of things, including boosting collagen production and elastin. It also helps to get rid of acne, give your skin an even tone and get rid of wrinkles. If you’re a beginner, you should start by using the low and slow method to incorporate it into your skincare routine. Remember that the amount you use depends on how your skin tolerates the product and your skin type.  

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