How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

how to apply retinol serum

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Only if you knew how to use retinol serum correctly you’d know how easy it is to stay youthful and blemish-free!

Retinol is that one magic ingredient that every beauty expert swears by! From beauty and skincare influencers to A-rated celebs, from dermatologists to college-going girls, everyone loves to use retinol in their everyday skincare regime. 

This powerhouse beauty ingredient can solve multiple skin woes with regular usage. And that’s why you will see social media flooded with content that asks you to incorporate retinol into your skincare routine.

However, there’s a catch!

You must know how to use this Holy Grail of the beauty world to make the most out of it. If you are not completely aware of what retinol is, how to use retinol daily, and what precautions to take, then you will do more harm than good to your skin!

And I am sure, babe, you don’t want that!

So, here I am, back once again with another value-bomb article that will walk you through the intricacies of this magic potion called retinol!

Get ready, my love, as I am going to steer clear of all the clouds of doubts that have been bothering you of late. 

Here you go!

How to Use Retinol in Your Daily Skincare Regime?

how to use retinol serum

Let’s learn how to use retinol every day as a skincare essential:

1. Take a pea-sized amount

With retinol, less is more! So, do not go overboard with retinol all over your face.

Simply take a pea-sized amount and apply it all over your face gently. 

2. Give your skin some time to adjust

It is best to apply retinol once and then wait for a few days. If you use it every day, your skin may get irritated. You must give time to your skin to get adjusted to this new skincare ingredient. If you witness no flakiness or redness on your skin, then you can start applying retinol on alternate days. 

Continue this for at least 2 months. If things go smoothly and fine, then move to daily application of retinol. 

3. Limit it to your night-time skincare routine

Have you ever wondered why every retinol product comes in dark packaging? This is so because retinol is light-sensitive. So, it is best to use retinol in your night-time skincare regime.

Otherwise, going out in the sun after applying retinol can damage your skin. 

4. Mix it up to avoid irritation

If your skin takes time to adjust to retinol and looks red and irritated, then here’s a hack that you can try!

Take your favorite moisturizer in your palm and mix a pea-sized amount of retinol with it. This brings down the intensity of retinol and makes it milder for your skin. 

With time, of course, you can start applying retinol directly to your skin. But initially, mixing it up can definitely help. 

5. Dry Up Your Skin Completely

Ensure that your skin is completely dry before applying retinol. It does not get absorbed onto your skin properly if the skin is damp or wet. And this may lead to irritation. 

Retinol – What’s That?

how to use retinol cream

Let’s keep it simple. 

Retinol is a type of vitamin A. And it is produced within your body naturally. It is because of retinol in your body that your skin looks supple, youthful and glowy. When produced synthetically, retinol is used in different skincare products such as serums, moisturizers, lotions, undereye gels and so on. So, consider it as a derivative of vitamin A that your skin absolutely loves!

How Does Retinol Benefit Your Skin?

Here’s the million-dollar question? 

What is so special about retinol that the entire beauty and skincare industry is going gaga over it? 

Why do so many influencers urge their followers to use retinol-infused products?

Why does every other beauty and cosmetic product claim to consist of retinol in the formulation?

Retinol boosts collagen production and helps in the swift renewal of skin cells. And in return, you get unblemished, fresh, and youthful skin.

When used the right way, it can help you get rid of multiple skin-related issues such as hyperpigmentation, clogged pores, acne, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and dullness. 

In short, retinol is your one-stop solution for all your skin woes!

Is Retinol Safe to Use?

Yes, deary! Retinol is completely safe to use only when you do it right. The key is to incorporate retinol in your skincare regime gradually and gently. The moment you try to rush things up, things will turn messy.

Worry not! Your girl is here to guide you about how to use retinol to get that flawless skin!

Is Retinol Suitable for all Types of Skin?

Retinol is totally safe for you if you have-

  • Oily skin
  • Combination skin
  • Dry skin
  • Normal skin

You need to be extra cautious with retinol in case you-

  • Have sensitive skin
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Over-exfoliated skin

NOTE: You CAN NOT use retinol in case you are pregnant, as it can get transferred to the fetus via your placenta. And this can lead to growth abnormalities or birth defects in the baby.

What is the Ideal Age to Start Using Retinol?

how often to use retinol

It is advisable to start using retinol in your thirties. But you can incorporate it into your skincare routine, even in your twenties or as a teenager. 

Basically, the 30s is the time when the collagen level in your skin starts taking a dip. But this hero ingredient offers long-term benefits to your skin. And that’s why it won’t do any damage to your skin if you start using retinol early. Whether you are in your late teens, mid-twenties, or early thirties, there’s no wrong time to start using retinol.

So babe, what are you waiting for?

Go order that retinol-infused moisturizer and serum today!

Wait, are you unsure about which retinol products to use and how? Fret not, as you will know it all at the end of this article!

What step should retinol be in your routine?

Normally, a skincare routine looks like cleanser < toner < antioxidant serum < eye cream < spot treatment < moisturizer < face oil < sunscreen. And retinol should be added as an antioxidant serum on clean dry skin and followed by eye cream and anti-aging moisturizer.

Step #1. Start with a mild cleanser.

Step #2. Balance your skin’s pH level with a toner.

Step #3. Apply a pea-sized amount of retinol to the dry skin.

Step #4. Pamper your under-eyes with an eye cream.

Step #5. Seal it with face moisturizer and maybe an oil.

How often should you use retinol?

Retinols should be used no more than 2-3 times per week, as overuse can lead to skin irritation and sensitivity. Start by using a low concentration of retinol (usually 0.025%-0.1%) and gradually increase the amount up to 0.5%-1% if needed.

After applying the product, wait at least 30 minutes before applying your moisturizer or sunscreen so that it has time to soak into your skin.

What is The Ideal Form of Retinol You Should Start With?

how to apply retinol

There are a plethora of options waiting for you out there when it comes to retinol. But, if you are a beginner, then you should definitely consider the percentage of retinol that you are applying to your skin. 

You should use a dose of as low as 0.025% initially. You can gradually go high up the ladder when your skin gets habitual of retinol application. 

When Should You Expect Results?

Retinol is indeed an effective skincare ingredient. But it does not promise overnight results. 

Well, this may break your heart, but I just dropped the truth bomb!

The products claim to offer overnight or instant results. But you will get noticeable and long-lasting results only after consistent use. Be patient and regular. And you will notice visible changes on your skin in 2 to 4 months.

What not to mix with retinol?

how to use retinol

Now that layering is the latest rage in the beauty industry, you must know about things that don’t go well with retinol!

Have a look!

1. Toners, Astringents, and any other skin-drying ingredients

Retinols, when just introduced, can dry up your skin and lead to flakiness. On top of it, astringents and toners, too, dry up the natural oil in your skin. So, it is better to avoid toners and astringents when you are planning to apply retinol. You can use a toner in your AM routine and leave retinol for your PM routine.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C serum safeguards your skin against free radical damage. It is perfect for a daytime skincare routine. On the other hand, retinol repairs your skin overnight by building collagen. Also, it is light-sensitive.

Also, when used together, these two ingredients can cause irritation to your skin.

So, you can use Vitamin C in your AM routine and retinol in your PM routine.

3. Exfoliators

Retinol exfoliates and unclogs your pores like a pro. So, using other exfoliants with AHA and BHA can make your skin over-sensitive and lead to redness and inflammation. So, it is advisable to exfoliate your face less often and do it only during the daytime.

4. Wax and lasers

If you are planning to visit your salon for hair removal, then you should stop using retinol at least 72 hours before using wax or laser procedures. Since hair removal using these two methods affect the topmost layer of your skin, applying retinol can lead to extreme irritation and a burning sensation. Also, resume retinol application only after 2 to 3 days of hair removal.

Can I mix retinol with moisturizer?

Yes, you can mix retinol with moisturizer for added hydration and protection against other environmental aggressors – but it’s important to do so in the correct way. The best approach is to apply your retinol first and wait at least 30 minutes before applying your moisturizer. This gives the retinol time to be absorbed into your skin and helps avoid any irritation caused by layering two active ingredients together.

Do you put retinol on before or after moisturizer?

Retinol always goes before moisturizer. Skincare should always be applied in a thinner-to-thicker consistency method, and retinol serum would always be thinner than a moisturizer, hence, goes first.

How long can I leave retinol on my face?

If retinol is in a serum or moisturizer form, you let it absorb into the skin and do wonders. However, if you’re using it as a mask, retinol should be left on the skin for no more than 10 minutes just because it is an active ingredient that can cause irritation if they are left on the skin for too long.

Do you leave retinol overnight?

Generally speaking, retinol should be applied at night, so the sun does not countereffect the goodness, and making it ineffective and even making your skin photosensitive. So you can use retinol at night and leave it overnight, for it absorbs into the skin and enhances collagen production.

Top Retinol Products You Can Try with Your Eyes Closed!

1. Loreal Revitalift Night Serum with 0.3% Pure Retinol

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

Dermatologist-approved, this retinol serum works effectively in smoothening your skin texture by removing crow’s feet and fine lines. The packaging ensures that the serum stays unaffected by light, air, and moisture. It is absolutely safe on your skin and contains no paraben, silicone or even fragrance. It works well on all skin types.

2. CeraVe resurfacing Retinol Serum

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

One of the most popular retinol serums for post-acne marks and skin texture; trust me babe, when I say your skin will be blessed after this! The serum can fight effectively against signs of aging. It is perfect for eliminating dark circles, crow’s feet, and wrinkles from your eye face. An amalgamation of niacinamide, licorice root extracts, and ceramides, it helps skin look more refined and smoother. The best part about this serum is that it does not irritate your skin at all. 

3. Biossance Squalane + Retinol B3 Serum

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

If you are looking for an elixir, then this is it! It is the ultimate blend of squalane, retinol and retinal that soothes your skin overnight. It does get stocked out quite fast! Go check if you are lucky enough to order it right away!

4. Kiehl’s Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

Looking for a retinol product that you can use on a daily basis? Kiehl’s retinol serum has to be your choice, then!

It is formulated for regular usage. Also, the ceramides and peptides in the serum enhance your skin tolerability.

5. RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

Here’s a pocket-friendly retinol cream that not just moisturizes your skin but also brightens it up. It consists of squalane as well as shea butter. With regular use, you can expect a glowy look on your face within a couple of months. You will be glad to know that this product is cruelty-free as well.

So, for me, it’s a big YES!!!

6. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Moisturizer

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

Another budget-friendly option, this retinol moisturizer is specially formulated for daytime application. Yes, you read that right. You can use it in your AM routine as well because it comes with SPF 30 protection. 

The product is highly efficient in hydrating your skin. Also, it does not contain paraben.

7. Estee Lauder Perfectionist Retinol Treatment 

How to Use Retinol- A Complete Guide on Using This Magic Skincare Ingredient!

Babe, if you are up for a luxe choice, then try Estee Lauder’s retinol serum. It blends borage oil, shea butter, caffeine, and retinol to bring out one of the most premium retinol products out there. Trust me when I say this- it offers visible results within the first one month of consistent usage.

Do and don’ts with retinol?


• Start slow and allow your skin to adjust. Piling on with too much retinol at once can cause irritation.

• Make sure you apply sunscreen daily while using retinol, as it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays.

• If you experience irritation or redness, cut back on usage or take a break for a few days.

• If possible, look for products that contain other skin-nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and vitamin E to help soothe skin.


• Don’t use retinol in combination with exfoliating acids (like glycolic or salicylic acid).

• Don’t use retinol if your skin is irritated, broken out, or sunburned.

• Avoid using retinol around the eye area, as this can be too harsh for delicate skin.

• Don’t forget to moisturize. Retinol can be drying, so you’ll want to make sure your skin is hydrated with a good quality moisturizer.

• Don’t use retinol more than once or twice a week at first – and then gradually build up. It is important not to overdo it, as this can cause irritation.

• Finally, don’t forget to keep your retinol product in a cool, dry place, and make sure the lid is tightly closed. This will help it stay the most effective for as long as possible.

There you have it – all the do’s and don’ts of using retinol!

How to use retinol In a Nutshell

Retinol can work wonders on your skin. But there’s a catch! Lady, you have to know this product from the inside out.

Now that I have shared this complete guide on how to use retinol, you will be able to make a well-informed choice while buying and using retinol.

Darling, it is high time you start pampering your skin with this elixir. The sooner you start, the better and more durable results you will experience. 

I personally have been using retinol for the last 3 years. And it is my experience of 3 whopping years that I have poured out in front of you. Now you won’t have to scratch your head in confusion while choosing a retinol product.

Follow this beginner’s guide on retinol and get that flawless glow on your skin super soon!

See you soon!


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