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Find your best retinol routine: 7 expert skincare tips

What are the rules for retinol? Skincare expert Rebecca Bennett takes you through the best way to use retinol products as part of your skincare routine.

Hailed by dermatologists as the ultimate all-rounder for your skin, retinol is known for its ability to tackle a range of skin concerns. This vitamin A derivative is effective against the signs of aging – such as fine lines and wrinkles, dullness and uneven skin tone1.

Wondering how to get the best results from your retinol products? There are some important rules to follow when working this powerhouse ingredient into your skincare routine. Neutrogena® skin expert Rebecca Bennett gives you the seven key rules for retinol:


1. Build up retinol gradually

Retinol is a really effective derivative of Vitamin A. It penetrates into your skin cells1, making it one of the most effective skincare ingredients you can buy without a doctor’s prescription. For this reason, I recommend building up your usage slowly.

For sensitive skin it’s best to use retinol just twice a week for the first week.  If your skin responds well, then you can move up to three times per week, then four and so on.

For normal skin types, you could start using retinol every other night, and then move to nightly when your skin has adjusted. This might seem slow, but your patience will be rewarded with great results!


2. Sensitive skin? Test and learn

Having sensitive skin doesn’t mean you need to avoid retinol altogether. Using lower strength formulations and taking precautions when you first start using it will help you monitor how your skin reacts. Read more about getting started in our beginner’s guide to retinol.


3. A temporary reaction is normal

When you first start using retinol it’s normal to experience some mild redness, warmth or skin flaking as your skin becomes used to this powerful ingredient. These are temporary signs that retinol is working.

While your skin adjusts, continue to use a suitable moisturiser for your skin type every day. Avoid scrubbing flaky skin as this can irritate it, and do not use acid toners or other products containing acids. If you experience anything more than mild irritation go to our retinol FAQs for support or contact a health care professional.

The time it takes to adjust can vary, but most normal skin types should be used to retinol within two to four weeks2.


4. Use retinol at night, with SPF the next day

Retinol is best used at night as it is a light-sensitive ingredient. Always use sun protection during the day when using retinol, as it can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.


5. Less is more when it comes to retinol

Applying lots of retinol does not increase its effectiveness. A pea-sized amount will treat the whole face and neck. As the skin can only absorb so much, applying more than this will just waste product and increase the risk of irritation.


6. Use a specially-formulated cream around the eyes

It is always best to use a specifically formulated eye cream the area around your eyes, as your skin here is particularly sensitive.

Neutrogena® Cellular Boost Eye Cream contains retinol but has been carefully blended to ensure it’s tolerated in the sensitive eye area and is also fragrance free to help minimise any irritation.

You may want to test any retinol eye cream on the face first before using it around your eyes as the skin around the eyes is thinner and can be sensitive.


7. Avoid competing ingredients

I would recommend steering clear of acids or peels whilst using retinol products, as these may greatly increase the risk of sensitivity.  If you have any facials or procedures whilst using products containing retinol, ensure you inform your therapist so they may tailor any treatments to suit.


Where to find products with retinol

You’ll find retinol in various anti-aging products offered through your local beauty retailers and online. Neutrogena® Cellular Boost Concentrate and Rejuvenating Eye Cream both contain Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid. Whilst the concentrate can be used to target specific signs of ageing such as deep wrinkles, the eye cream is fragrance-free and specifically designed to reduce the risk of irritations around the sensitive eye area.

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