How to Use Retinol Cream on the Face for Maximum Effect

Are you looking for a skincare product that works to smoothen and enhance aging skin? Retinol cream is the one for you. Retinol is a favorite skincare ingredient amongst skincare experts. 

Amanda von dem Hagen, a licensed esthetician said “Retinol is a star ingredient in skincare products because it alters the behavior of aged cells, so they act in a more youthful manner. It helps to smoothen and renew skin’s texture, promote radiant skin, and treat aging,”. 

Using retinol cream on your skin will help to treat skin issues such as acne, aging spots, sun damages, fine lines and so much more. 

Learning how to use your retinol cream correctly will help to achieve the maximum benefits and result from using it. This article entails all you need to know, from “how to use retinol cream in your AM and PM skincare routine” to “how often to use retinol cream on your skin”. 

How to Properly Use Retinol Cream on Your Skin

Using retinol cream on your skin will help to treat skin issues such as acne, aging spots, sun damages, fine lines and so much more. “If you use retinol cream correctly on your face, it may work in eliminating acne and minimize your pores,” says Kaveri Karhade, MD a board-certified dermatologist.

Here are a few tips to guide you through the usage of retinol cream on your skin.

1. Purchase the Right Retinol Cream

You can purchase an over-the-counter retinol cream, unlike other Vitamin A derivatives. You can get one at a drugstore, pharmacy, or beauty store. However, you can also get a prescription-strength retinol cream. 

It is best to go for a gentle OTC retinol cream if you have not used a Vitamin A derivative cream on your skin before. Using a prescription-strength retinol cream on your skin may cause damage to your skin, especially if you haven’t used it before.

2. Apply Retinol Cream at Night Before Bed

The best time to use retinol cream on your skin is in your bedtime skincare routine. Retinol works best when it is applied to the skin for a long time without any disturbance. This can only be achieved when it is applied overnight as the skin is even more permeable at night. 

Retinol is sensitive to light and applying it in the morning can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It is best to apply your retinol skin at night to avoid sun damage on the skin.

So be sure to incorporate the use of retinol cream in your PM skincare routine. Apply it on your face just before going to bed. You will find how to use retinol in your evening routine ahead in this article.

3. Always Wash and Dry Your Face Before Application

Before you apply retinol cream to your face, ensure that your face is clean. Clean your face by washing it with gentle soap and clean warm water. After washing, use a clean, soft towel to dry your face by patting your face with it. 

Do this 20 minutes before applying your retinol cream. Avoid applying it on your skin immediately after washing your face as retinol can interact with the moisture on the skin and that will result in side effects such as irritation, redness, or peeling.

4. Don’t Use Too Much

All you need to cover your face is just a little of your retinol cream. Therefore, only apply a pea size of it on your skin. Squeeze out just a little of your retinol cream on your fingertips and apply it to your face. 

Applying too much on your face can dry or damage your face with irritations such as peeling and so on. The skin covering your face is more sensitive than the skin on other parts of the body.

5. Rub the Cream in a Circular Motion. 

When massaging your retinol cream into your skin, do it by rubbing it on your skin in a small, circular motion. Continue this till the product is no longer visible on your skin. Do not slap the cream on your skin. Rub it on your skin gently. 

SEE: What Does Retinol Do? See the Benefits and Side Effects

6. Wait for 3 to 4 Days Before Reapplying Retinol Cream

If you are a first-time user or your skin is yet to get used to the application of retinol cream on it, do not use retinol cream every day. It takes a while for the skin to adjust to the daily application of retinol. 

After the first application, wait for about three to four days before you apply retinol cream on your skin again. You might want to wait a whole week before using retinol again if you have sensitive skin.

7. Build Up to Daily Usage Within 6 Months

Your skin will lose its sensitivity to retinol with continuous usage of retinol cream on your skin. Once your skin can tolerate retinol, you can use it more often. Upgrade your usage gradually by increasing your usage monthly. 

How to do it: For the first month, use your retinol only once or twice a week. For the second month, upgrade to three times weekly. Continue this for six months till you can confidently use retinol cream daily. 

If you are still experiencing side effects after six months, stop using the retinol and contact your dermatologist for help.

SEE: Do Retinol Creams Work? Benefits of Adding One to Your Routine

How to Use Retinol Cream in Your AM Skincare Routine

Even though it is recommended to use your retinol cream before bed for better results and to avoid sun damage, you can still incorporate the use of retinol in your morning skincare routine. 

Here’s how to incorporate retinol into your skincare routine.

Step 1: Start by washing your face with a mild facial cleanser. After washing, pat your face dry using a clean, soft towel. Now apply an eye cream or toner to protect the delicate skin of your face.

Step 2: After applying toner on your face, wait for about 20 minutes before you proceed to the next step. 20 minutes is enough time for your skin to be completely dry. 

Ensure that your skin is not damp at all before you apply your retinol cream. Applying retinol on damp skin will irritate your skin. 

Step 3: Squeeze out a pea-size amount of your retinol into your palm. Use your fingertips to take some of it and start by applying it on your forehead, and move to other parts of your face. 

Rub it in a circular motion across your face and ensure the even distribution of the cream.

Step 4: Follow up the process with your favorite moisturizer. Wait for your skin to absorb the retinol cream fully before you apply your moisturizer. 

Apply moisturizer to lock in hydration on your skin and also to prevent the drying effect of the retinol.

Step 5: Remember that using retinol on your skin increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Therefore, always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from sun damage.  

SEE: What Is Face Serum? A Complete Guide for Skincare Beginners

How to Use Retinol Cream in Your PM Skincare Routine

Here’s how to incorporate the use of retinol cream in your bedtime skincare routine.

Step 1: Start by washing your face with a mild facial cleanser. After washing, pat your face dry using a clean, soft towel. 

Step 2: Now apply an eye cream or toner to protect the delicate skin of your face. After applying toner on your face, wait for about 20 minutes before you proceed to the next step. 20 minutes is enough time for your skin to be completely dry. 

Step 3: Follow up the process with your favorite moisturizer. Wait for your skin to absorb the retinol cream fully before you apply your moisturizer. 

Apply moisturizer to lock in hydration on your skin and also to prevent the drying effect of the retinol cream.

Step 4: Squeeze out a pea-size amount of your retinol cream into your palm. Use your fingertips to take some of it and start by applying it on your forehead, and move to other parts of your face. 

Rub it in a circular motion across your face and ensure the even distribution of the cream.

Step 5: Wait for about 20 minutes after applying retinol cream to your face. This allows your face to absorb the cream. You can finish up the routine by applying face oil on your face. 

How Much Retinol Cream to Use

The amount of retinol cream you should use solely depends on your skin type and how well your skin can tolerate the cream. You can choose the strength of your retinol and the rate of usage to help your skin’s tolerance of retinol. 

If you have dry and sensitive skin and if you haven’t used retinol on your skin before, go for a low-strength retinol cream of about 0.01% to 0.03%. With this low-strength retinol cream, you can use retinol on your skin once or even twice daily. 

If you are experiencing skin issues such as uneven skin tone, loose skin, or uneven skin texture, opt for a moderate strength retinol cream of 0.04% to 0.02%. However, you cannot use this daily when you are just starting. 

Use it twice weekly and build your usage depending on how your skin responds to the use of retinol on it.

SEE: Does Retinol Work? Learn the Facts

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use retinol cream while breastfeeding?

No, you can’t. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using retinol products. 

You can speak to a dermatologist for more information concerning this. 

How often should you use retinol cream?

The frequency at which you use your retinol cream depends on the strength of your retinol cream and your skin. 

If you are using a low-strength retinol cream once or twice daily. For a medium and high strength retinol cream, thread with caution. Only use it twice weekly till your body can tolerate daily usage.

How long does it take retinol cream to help wrinkles? 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, it takes about three to six months of using retinol cream before you see improvements to wrinkles

However, do not quit using the cream after just a short period. Be patient and you will experience major results on your skin.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a skincare product that works to smoothen and enhance aging skin? Retinol cream is the one for you. Retinol is a favorite skincare ingredient amongst skincare experts.

Using retinol on your skin will help to treat skin issues such as acne, aging spots, sun damages, fine lines and so much more. The amount of retinol you should use solely depends on your skin type and how well your skin can tolerate the cream. 

Learning how to use your cream correctly will help you use it to achieve the maximum benefits and result from using it.

Follow the guide in this article to ensure maximum results.

Thanks for reading.

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