My guide to use retinol and tretinoin

Retinoids are the golden active family in skincare. They help to improve signs of aging, treat acne and overall helps your skin to behave younger. However, lots of misinformation are floating on the web. They all stem from a lack of understanding of how works retinoids. 

On today’s post, I’m going to share with you what you should not do with retinoids and why. My advice is mostly relevant for retinol (between 0.3 to 1%), retinaldehyde and tretinoin.   

From Retinol to tretinoin 

Retinol is often described as less potent than tretinoin. This is not exactly true because it depends on the concentration used. 0.1% retinol compared to 0.025% tretinoin is indeed less potent than retinol. However, 1% retinol versus 0.025% tretinoin is likely similar in many aspects. Concentration matters. 

Retinol is a synonym for vitamin A and it is daily used by our body and skin cells. Our skin cells in the dermis and epidermis either stock retinol (in forms of esters) or used it. In this case, retinol is converted into retinal and then tretinoin (or retinoic acid). Retinoic acid will bind to retinoic receptors and unleash skin cell responses… 

What you should not do 

When you start using retinol, retinal or tretinoin the skin needs a period of time to tolerate retinoids. It can take 4 to 8 weeks depending on your skin type. This can vary from person to person. During this period it is very important to not use any other actives than may irritate your skin even more. 

Retinoids increase the cell turnover in epidermal cells making it difficult for the skin to form a strong skin barrier, hence the side effects skin but these effects are not permanent, in general, they completely disappear after the tolerance period. 

The No

  • Alcohol, 
  • Essential oils, and fragrances. 
  • Botanical extracts
  • No AHA, BHA, 
  • No acid form of vitamin C
  • Do not introduce any new products during this period. 

What you should do

During the tolerance period, the skin is more sensitive because of the disruption of the skin barrier. Therefore the skincare routine has to be extra gentle and none sensitizing  

The yes

  • Gentle cleansers.   
  • Buffer your retinoid with a moisturizer  
  • Always use the same dose. 1 pump for example 
  • Use plenty of moisturizers 
  • Use your retinoids in the PM
  • – use plenty of sunscreens and avoid sun exposure 

Once you have passed the tolerance period you can slowly introduce actives such as a gentle AHA. 

Watch my video to know more.

Thank you for your time. 


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