Retinol is a multi-tasking skincare ingredient derived from vitamin A. Mostly touted for its anti-aging properties, retinol can also be used to unclog pores and exfoliate skin, which can be useful for acne and uneven skin tone. But can you use the potent ingredient every day? And is it safe for sensitive skin? Read on to find out more about how to use retinol and why you should add this product to your skincare regimen.
Retinol, a natural form of vitamin A, is known for its ability to boost cell turnover and collagen production. Studies show it is among the most effective substances for slowing the aging process.1 Retinol protects the skin barrier, maintains cellular function, unclogs pores, and promotes a clear complexion. Available over-the-counter, retinol comes in various forms like serums and moisturizers.
Daily Use: Myth or Reality?
With so many benefits, retinol would be a valuable addition to any daily skincare routine, but a common concern is that retinol is too potent to be used every day. While different formulations will have different concentrations and not all skin will react the same way to this powerful ingredient, retinol can be used every day, as long as you introduce the product gradually and use it in moderation.
When first starting out, you may want to use the product only three nights per week while your skin acclimates over the course of 1-2 weeks until you can use the product daily. It’s best to apply at night to protect your skin from the sun.
While the effects of using retinol are not immediate, patience does pay off as long as you use the product consistently. In one study, daily use of retinol in women ages 40 to 60 reduced the appearance of fine and deep wrinkles over a 26-week period.2 Some studies show that these effects can be seen even sooner, in as little as 12 weeks, when retinol or its concentrated equivalent is used continuously.3
Benefits of Daily Retinol Use
There are so many benefits to having a daily retinol skincare routine. Here are some of the best:
- Reduces signs of aging: One of the primary uses of retinol is to slow the signs of aging, and for good reason. Retinol increases collagen production and accelerates cell turnover, helping to fill lines and wrinkles for a more youthful complexion. It also breaks apart keratin debris within the pore, reducing overall dullness and uneven texture.
- Prevents acne: Clearing away dead skin cells and acne-causing bacteria, retinol removes the buildup that can lead to pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which minimizes redness and scarring.4
- Hydrates skin: Retinol keeps skin hydrated by protecting the skin barrier, preventing transdermal water loss, and thickening the epidermis.5
- Promotes an even skin tone: By clearing away dead skin cells and encouraging new cell growth, retinol promotes a more even skin tone. This can be helpful for those dealing with hyperpigmentation, skin conditions like rosacea, or acne scarring.6
How to Create a Retinol-Infused Skincare Routine
Integrating retinol into your skincare routine can be a powerful move that addresses various concerns all at once, but it's crucial to choose a formulation tailored to your skin type. Some prescription retinoids and concentrated tretinoin can cause skin reactions like redness, dryness, rashes, and peeling, especially in those with sensitive skin. No matter what retinol or retinoid product you use, you may want to consider building up to using the product to avoid such side effects.
Retinol should be applied before moisturizing, but after cleansing and toning. You can also maximize the benefits of retinol by combining with other skincare powerhouses like niacinamide, which calms skin and further supports DNA repair, and hyaluronic acid, which acts like a magnet for skin hydration.
Choosing the Right Retinol Product
At Foundation Skincare, our Night Renewal Cream uses Granactive Retinoid, one of the most bioavailable forms of retinol, compared to other derivatives. Combined with peptide growth factors and plant-based botanicals, FS Night Renewal Cream achieves powerful results comparable to prescription retinoids without irritating or drying out skin. Suitable for all skin types, the product addresses dark spots, uneven tone, and texture, while unclogging pores and softening fine lines. Most users see results within 90 days.
Tips for Optimal Results
Want to make the most of using retinol? Follow these tips:
- Use only one pump — a little goes a long way.
- Do not combine with other retinoids.
- Layer with other products like FS Niacinamide Lotion 10%, FS Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, FS Azelaic Acid 14% Cream (for more defense against hyperpigmentation), and FS Firming Neck Cream.
- Apply after cleansing and toning, but before moisturizing.
- Use only at night and always use sunscreen (SPF 30 or 50+) in the morning.
- Consider taking a break during the spring and summer months when your face is exposed to more sunlight, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- Build up to using retinoids daily; start with three nights per week while your skin acclimates over the course of 1-2 weeks.
- Be patient and consistent.
Common Retinol FAQS:
Still have questions about adding retinol to your skincare routine? Read on to find out more.
How does retinol work?
Retinol is clinically proven to help minimize scarring, reduce acne breakouts, and improve the visible signs of skin aging by boosting collagen production, reducing inflammation, and maintaining cell health.
Is retinol suitable for all skin types?
FS Night Renewal Cream with 2% Granactive Retinoid is suitable for all skin types, even those with sensitive skin. It offers the potency of retinoic acid with a gentle delivery system and is available without a prescription.
When should I start using retinol?
It’s never too early to start using retinol. While many people don’t consider using the product until they’re already seeing visible signs of aging, early use can help prevent these signs altogether. Depending on your skin type, you can start using retinol as early as adolescence.
Can retinol cause irritation?
It’s normal to notice slight peeling during the first month of using retinol, due to a process called retinization, in which the top layer of the skin adjusts to faster cell turnover. This is why we strongly suggest building up to using the product. As your skin acclimates, you should experience less peeling.
Can I use retinol with other skincare ingredients?
If you’re using FS Night Renewal Cream, layering is strongly encouraged! We already shared our favorite products to use alongside retinol: FS Niacinamide Lotion 10%, FS Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, FS Azelaic Acid 14% Cream, and FS Firming Neck Cream. All of the products in the Foundation Skincare collection can be used together and are suitable for all skin types.
Can I use retinol if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?
Though there is limited data on the negative effects of retinol during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it is not recommended to use this product until you have stopped breastfeeding. When used in excess, vitamin A (of which retinol is a derivative) can build up to toxic levels if you have too much in your system and potentially cause birth defects.7
We hope our retinol guidance has given you a glimpse of what retinoids like FS Night Renewal Cream can do for your skin. If you have more questions about how to use retinol or any other products in our collection, contact the Foundation Skincare team. And find more tips and resources about maintaining healthy skin in the FS Journal.