When to Use Retinol and How Often You Should Use It for The Best Results

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Retinols are a key ingredient that have been commonly used to treat acne, fine lines and wrinkles, and other skin concerns. Although retinols have been used for decades, not all of them are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about using retinol products for your skin and how often you should use them for the best results.

Retinoids are a class of molecules that have anti-aging effects. They are derived from vitamin A and work by stopping the growth of skin cells and promoting the synthesis of new cells.  It can help improve the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and other skin problems. It is also used to treat acne and other skin conditions.

Retinoids can be found in both over-the-counter and prescription forms. The most common retinoid is retinoic acid, which is available in a few different formulations, including topical creams, ointments, gels, and injections.

Retinyl palmitate is also available as a topical cream or gel. Retinoids come in two main forms: Topical retinoids are applied to the skin directly. Oral retinoids are taken by mouth.

How does it work on your skin?

When it comes to improving the appearance of your skin, retinol is a powerful player. It can penetrate the dermis layer and increase cell turnover and this helps improve the appearance of the skin by clearing out old cells and promoting new ones.

This is why retinols are so effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age spots – they help to rejuvenate skin cells and make them look younger.

However, it’s important to use retinoids in the right way in order to get the best results.

Benefits of using retinol

The biggest benefit of using retinol is the way it can improve your skin’s overall health.  It has a long history of being used to treat a variety of skin problems. Here are 8 key benefits of using retinol:

  • Acne: Retinol is a natural skin agent that can help reduce the severity and recurrence of acne.
  • Acne scars: Retinol can help improve the appearance of acne scars by reducing their size and brightness.
  • Dark spot: Retinol can help lighten or remove dark spots caused by aging.
  • Large pores: Retinol can help shrink enlarged pores and clear up any surrounding pigmentation.
  • Melasma: Melasma is not always easy to treat, using a retinoid along with other therapies can often lead to successful results.
  • Psoriasis: Retinol can help improve psoriasis symptoms by reducing the number of skin cells that grow.
  • Wrinkles: Retinoids work by targeting the production of skin cells and causing them to multiply more slowly. This reduces the appearance of wrinkles and helps improve skin tone.
  • Stretch marks: Topical retinoids can help make stretch marks less noticeable by increasing the production of collagen.

Related: Retinol or collagen serum, which one will help you attain wrinkle-free and skin-health?

When to use retinol

You may be tempted to start using retinol at the first sign of aging, with the assumption that if you’re not getting wrinkles yet, you’ll have time to wait until you do. But that’s not the case — dermatologists recommend fitting it into your skincare routine during your 20s.

Why? Because retinol helps renew collagen and elastin in your skin, which keeps it looking youthful and healthy. If you wait until later on to start using it, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see results.

However, if you are already in your 20s and have decided to use retinols, there are a few things you should know before using retinol.

What to know before using retinol?

1. It can take time so start slowly

If you’re considering using a retinoid, it’s important to be aware that it can take some time for your skin to get used to, so start by applying it once or twice a week and slowly increase the frequency as your skin adjusts. If you experience any redness, irritation or dryness, stop using the retinoid and consult with your doctor.

2. Apply at night

If you want to achieve the best results with retinol, it’s important to apply it at night. This is when the skin is least likely to produce natural oil, which can block Retin-A from working its magic. Plus, if you use retinol at night you will see an improvement in your skin tone and texture in the morning.

3. Use pea size amount

Too much of anything is never a good thing. This holds true for retinol products just as much as any other type of skin care product. Retinol can be a powerful and effective treatment for wrinkle reduction, but too much of it can have adverse effects on the skin. In general, a pea-sized amount is enough for your whole face.

4. Use it with moisturizer

If you are using retinol, it is important to mix it with a moisturizer before applying it to your skin. Applying retinol directly to the skin can cause irritation and further dryness. Mixing the retinol with a moisturizer will help to provide some additional moisture to the skin and help reduce any potential irritation.

5. Use sunscreen daily

Sunscreen is essential when using retinoids, even if you only apply them at night. because retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to burning. So if you’re using retinoids, it’s important to use sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

A broad-spectrum sunscreen should be used daily. It should be SPF 30 or higher and cover UVA and UVB rays.

6. People with serious skin conditions should avoid using it.

If you have a sereous skin condition such as inflamed cystic acne or recurring breakouts, it is best to avoid using retinol. Retinoids can cause more severe side effects in people with sereous skin conditions and are not recommended for use in these cases.

How often should you use retinol?

If you are using a retinol product that is formulated as a serum or cream, it is recommended that you apply the product every night before bed. If you are using a retinol product that is formulated as a gel, pad, or foam, it is recommended that you apply the product twice daily- once in the morning and once at night. However, it is important to note that the percentage of retinol in each formulation can vary so it is important to read the label before purchasing. If you have sensitive or dry skin, it’s important to start with a lower retinol dosage, such as 0.25, and gradually increase it. Apply retinol 2-3 times a week to see the best results.

Remember: always test your skin before starting any new skincare regimen to determine how reactive it is to retinoids. And always patch test first.

What happen if you use too much retinol?

If you’re using too much retinol, you may experience a number of side effects. These effects can vary depending on the person and the severity of the retinol overdose. Some common side effects include: redness, dryness, peeling, irritation, and even skin cancer. If you experience any of these side effects while using retinol, stop using it and consult with a doctor.

How do you prepare your skin before using retinol?

Before using retinoids, it’s important to prepare your skin by cleansing it and moisturizing it properly. Here are some tips for prepping your skin:

  1. Start by cleaning your face with a gentle cleanser. Make sure to remove any makeup or other debris that may be clogging your pores.
  2. After cleansing, apply a light moisturizer to lock in the moisture. You don’t want to use too much moisturizer, as it can make your skin feel greasy or sticky, so go easy on yourself here!
  3. If you have dry or sensitive skin, consider using an oil-free moisturizer before applying any retinoids in order to prevent greasiness or irritation from occurring on your skin
  4. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of your skin (avoiding the eyes). Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and after every 2 hours outdoors for extended periods of time.
  5. Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible and use hats and long sleeves when necessary for additional protection against ultraviolet radiation (UVB) rays, which can cause burns and other skin damage over time if left untreated!
  6. If you want to enhance the effects of retinol, then you can also add a serum containing vitamin C or another antioxidant such as vitamin E into your routine before applying any retinol products on top of it.


The key takeaway from this is to make sure you stick with retinol products. Like all skin care products, good results will only come with patience and consistency over a period of time. Patience in particular is the main thing that many people need to learn when starting an anti-aging regimen. There will not be a drastic change after just one use of retinol, but with consistent use over a few weeks or months you should begin to see the positive effects that retinol has on your skin.

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar is a passionate automobile engineer and part-time content writer. With his deep interest in skincare and hair care, he brings a unique perspective to the world of beauty. Abhijit's expertise lies in dissecting the science behind various hair and skin problems, providing effective solutions, and sharing practical tips for a healthy and radiant appearance. As a meticulous researcher, he delves into the intricacies of beneficial and harmful ingredients, empowering readers to make informed choices. Through his engaging articles, Abhijit aims to simplify the complexities of hair and skincare, helping readers unlock their true beauty potential.

For Your Further Reading

Shopping Basket