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How To Use Retinol According To A Dermatologist

It’s no secret that dermatologists love retinoids. And why wouldn’t they? Retinoids - such as the retinol and retinal used in our new Squalane + Retinol Night Serum – can help soften the look of wrinkles and fine lines, make dark spots appear lighter, and even help combat blemishes. 

Our formulas are built to be high-performance, but we’re always looking for smart and easy ways to get even more out of our skincare. So we turned to Harvard-trained dermatologist Dr. Daniel Sugai to find out how he uses our innovative new retinol night serum. Keep reading for six dermatologist-approved tips for using retinoids.

1. Choose The Right Retinoids

“Retinoids is an umbrella term,” says Dr. Sugai. “Retinol, retinal, and retinyl fall under the category of over the counter retinoids.”All retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that speed cell turnover. Over-the-counter retinoids undergo one or more conversions within the skin to become retinoic acid, which is the compound that creates the desired changes. Retinol undergoes two conversions, and retinal gets converted just once, making it the strongest OTC retinoid on the market.

Our Squalane + Retinol Night Serum uses innovative encapsulation technology to gradually release both retinol and retinal into your skin over eight hours, reducing the irritation that is often associated with retinoids.

“I’ve been using this for several weeks now and I’ve been so impressed by this serum,” says Dr. Sugai. “You get the best of both worlds where you get tolerability plus efficacy.Retinol Night Serum Formulation Time Release

2. Start Slowly

“The big things that can happen with a brand new retinol is that you can get irritation, dryness, and peeling,” says Dr. Sugai. “When you’re starting off on a retinol, start at twice a week and then gradually increase as tolerated.”Our retinoids are not only encapsulated to minimize irritation, they’re also stabilized by our superhero hydrator, squalane along with an antioxidant blend to further minimize flakiness and irritation. Still, we recommend easing into retinoid use as Dr. Sugai suggests.Skin cycling is a great way to gradually acclimate your skin to retinoids. As the name suggests, skin cycling involves using one active ingredient at a time on a regimented four-day cycle, giving the skin time to rest and recover between use. Learn more about skin cycling

3. Only Use It At Night

Retinoids can become unstable in sunlight, causing them to become less effective and more irritating. In addition, they increase cell turnover. While this is exactly what gives us the skin-smoothing benefits we desire, it can also expose immature cells to sunlight, causing UV damage.“I like to use this in my night routine at bedtime,” says Dr. Sugai. 

Use retinoids after cleansing and before moisturizing to get the most benefit, and don’t combine them with other actives such as lactic acid or Vitamin C during the same routine. Instead, use retinol and lactic acid on alternate nights, and use Vitamin C in the morning only while using retinoids.

And whether you’re using retinol alone or alternating use with other active ingredients, always be sure to 

wear sunscreen in the morning to protect vulnerable, freshly-uncovered skin cells.

Learn how to layer your retinol serum the right way

4. Make Sure Your Skin Is Completely Dry

While you should use retinol as your first step after cleansing to ensure maximum efficacy, Dr. Sugai cautions against using retinoids on wet skin.“After cleansing, dry your face and maybe wait about 20-30 minutes. You don’t want to apply it to wet skin because it will increase absorption and the risk of irritation,” says Dr.  Sugai.

5. Use A Pea-Sized Amount

When it comes to retinoids, a little bit goes a long way. Over-applying retinol won’t increase its benefits. On the contrary, too much retinol will dry out your skin and cause irritation. Just a pea-sized amount of our Squalane + Retinol Night Serum is enough for your whole face. 

“One pump gives you about a pea-sized amount,” says Dr. Sugai. “I like to break it up into two and put little dots on the face, and then connect the dots, and don’t forget your nose.”Retinol Night Serum

6. Be Consistent

Just as working out sporadically won’t give you abs of steel, using active ingredients inconsistently can compromise your results. This is especially true with retinoids.“The main goal is to stay consistent,” says Dr. Sugai, “To get all of these benefits including reducing fine lines and wrinkles, lightening your dark spots, and helping to keep your pores clear, you need to stay consistent with your retinoid.”Shop Squalane + Retinol Night Serum
Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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