HomeLifestyleThe Basics of Retinol Face Cream

The Basics of Retinol Face Cream

Retinol face cream has gained popularity as a skincare ingredient. Most have heard of it, but many of us aren’t sure what it is or how it works on the skin. This article will help answer everything you’ve ever wanted to know about using retinol in your skincare routine, including when, why, and how you should use it.

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a type of retinoid, a synthetic form of vitamin A. It is an antioxidant. For use in skin care products, retinol is commonly converted into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid does break down over time, making it longer-lasting than a retinol cream or serum. 

While pure retinoic acid is available by prescription as tretinoin, you can buy retinol face creams over the counter. 

How Do Retinol Creams Work?

Tiny retinol molecules penetrate your dermis when you apply retinol face cream to your skin. The dermis is located deep within the outer layer of your skin, known as the epidermis. Once it gets to this middle skin layer, retinol stimulates the area to increase cell production. Retinol increases the generation of skin cells, helps clean pores, and repairs your skin. This can improve skin elasticity and collagen production, which can have an anti-aging effect. 

Retinol incorporates into your cells immediately upon application, but it may take several days or weeks before you notice a difference in your skin’s texture and appearance. Your skin may appear to worsen before it adjusts to the regimen. 

What Does Retinol Treat?

You can use retinol cream to treat the following skin concerns:


Retinol treats acne by keeping pores from becoming clogged. For the first few weeks of treatment, you might still experience breakouts. Your skin might appear worse. After some time, your skin will become clearer.

Pimple Scars

Topical retinol treatments can help lessen the inflammation and swelling associated with breakouts. They can also help prevent new ones. Severe acne scars do not always respond well to retinol treatment.

Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation

Some people find that retinol creams help even their skin tone by lightening hyperpigmentation or dark spots caused to age or sun damage. This is usually seen after a few months of use.  

Large Pores 

Retinol creams can treat large pores by accelerating skin cell regeneration and halting the emergence of clogged pores.


By reducing the rate of collagen deterioration and increasing your skin’s elasticity, retinol can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Stretch marks

Stretch marks can be less noticeable with the help of topical retinol.

Who Can Use Retinol?

People of all skin types can use retinol, but those with sensitive skin should consult their dermatologist for recommendations for gentler retinol products. Retinol may increase your sensitivity to sunlight, so use sunscreen and protect your face from the sun.

Retinol is an effective treatment for acne and aging skin, but some people should avoid using it. If you have sun-damaged skin or your face has been over-exfoliated, wait until you heal before using a retinol cream. Pregnant women should also stay away from retinol creams.

How Do You Start Using Retinol?

Start with a small patch test. Apply a small amount of cream to a section of your upper forearm and let it dry. After 24 hours, wash the area and see how your skin reacts. If you have any adverse reactions, do not use the product.

If you get favorable patch test results, use the cream at least once every three days before adjusting to a daily routine. This will give your skin ample time to adjust to retinol. You may experience mild itching, redness, or burning, but as your skin adjusts, these side effects disappear.

What Side Effects Does Retinol Have?

As you start using retinol, your skin may initially react unpleasantly. Reduce the frequency of use if the reactions are more severe. These side effects should disappear as your skin adjusts. 

The following are common side effects for people first using retinol:

  • Dry and irritated skin
  • Redness or flakiness
  • Burning or itching
  • Sunburn

You can make the following minor changes to reduce the side effects of retinol:

  • Try a single product at a time
  • Apply retinol cream every alternate day as opposed to daily
  • Avoid retinol when you have sunburn or broken skin
  • Reduce your sunlight exposure as it causes further irritation

If the side effects are severe or worsen, stop using the product and consult a dermatologist.

Where Can You Get Retinol Face Cream?

Many retinol creams are available over the counter, in retail stores, and online. Find a retinol face cream from a reputable brand that has been proven and tested. Getting the right product will help you avoid unnecessary skin reactions.



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