Retinol Serum for Face – Uses, Benefits and Side Effects

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Are you struggling with acne or annoying aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines? It’s time for you to experience an amazing change with the number one gold standard ingredient: Retinol. Using retinol for the face will help to clear all of your skin’s blemishes. 

Retinol is a member of the retinoid family and all retinoids are vitamin A derivatives. Vitamin A is a vital vitamin that the body needs to repair wounds and damage to the skin. Several dermatologists swear by the age-defying ingredient.

Retinol helps to aid the repair of your skin by penetrating your epidermis to enhance the production of the protein fibers that your skin needs. Retinol works to treat almost all skin problems, ranging from dark spots to acne. 

Introducing retinol serum in your skincare routine will help to solve most of your skin concerns. Read ahead to find out more information concerning using retinol serum on your face.

Is Retinol Serum Good for Your Face?

Retinol serum is a good choice for your facial routine. While several skincare experts swear by it, some individuals might speak ill of the ingredient because of the side effects they got from using it. However, this doesn’t mean the ingredient is bad for you.

Aging signs commonly appear on the face as the body lessens the production of collagen and elastin in your skin cells. Using retinol serum on your face is a good way to treat your skin to a flawless and youthful look. 

Retinol serum will exfoliate your skin to give room for new skin cells to surface on your skin by getting rid of dead skin cells. This way, there is a reduction in the appearance of dark spots and other skin impurities on your skin. 

Your skin will experience a beautiful transformation if you use your retinol serum correctly on your face. 

What Does Retinol Serum Do for Your Face?

Retinol serum does several amazing benefits for the face and skin generally and dermatologists can testify to this. 

A licensed esthetician, Amanda Dem Hagen says that “Retinol is an active ingredient in anti-aging skincare products because of the way it influences the behavior of aged skin cells so they can remain youthful and beautiful.”

“It smooths and revitalizes the skin texture to give you a radiant and ageless look,” she explains. 

“Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient that helps to treat premature aging, as well as treat acne breakouts,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, board-certified dermatologist. 

Even though retinol is most popular for being an age-defying ingredient, it also helps to regulate oil production in the skin, thereby decreasing acne breakout. 

One study reveals that using retinol on your skin will help to control oil production in your sebaceous glands. This will help to stop the oil gland from producing more oil than the skin needs. 

Additionally, it helps to remove dead skin cells and oil from your pores to treat acne breakouts. To achieve this, it speeds up and increases the epidermis turnover rate in the skin. 

Using retinol serum on your face will also help to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in your skin to improve the texture and tone of your skin. Therefore, using retinol serum on your skin will even out your skin tone and texture.

These two protein fibers are important to the skin to keep your skin smooth and ageless. The body reduces the production of elastin in the skin as you grow older, this makes your skin lose its elasticity and become saggy. When this happens, wrinkles will form on your skin. 

With the help of your retinol serum, your skin will become plumpy and ageless in no time. The increase in the production of collagen and elastin that retinol does will restore your skin’s elasticity. It will as well repair your skin by treating blemishes such as dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 

How to Start Using Retinol Serum Correctly 

If you are a first-time user of retinol serum or any retinol product, it is important to know the right steps to take to incorporate the use of retinol serum into your skincare routine. 

The first thing is to look for a retinol serum that doesn’t contain more than 0.5 percent of retinol. The ideal percentage for starters is between 0.25 to 0.5. It is important to start slowly and upgrade after successfully using retinol without triggering side effects.

If you have sensitive skin, using below 0.5 percent retinol is the wise choice for you. Retinol has a reputation for being harsh on the skin, therefore you should avoid high-concentration retinol serums.

Also, a first-time user should start with once or twice the application of retinol serum weekly. Do not rush into using it too often if you do not want to experience side effects. After the first month, you can start working up more frequent usage.

Also, use your retinol serum at night to avoid the risk of sunburn. One of the downsides of retinol is that it makes the skin overly sensitive to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Also, exposure to direct sunlight will break down the retinol and reduce its efficiency. 

Another thing to note is the importance of moisturizing your skin after using retinol serum on it. Another thing retinol does is strip your skin’s moisture. You will need to use a moisturizer to restore hydration to your skin.

Sunscreen is an important product to have as well, as it will help you to protect your skin from getting sunburned or sunspots. Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every morning before leaving your home. Additionally, try to avoid direct or prolonged exposure to sunlight. 

How to Apply Retinol Serum on Your Face

The way you apply your retinol serum will influence the result you get great. There, it is important to know how to apply retinol serum to your face in your nighttime skincare routine. 

The best routine for retinol is a four-step procedure that involves only your cleanser, eye cream, retinol serum, and moisturizer. This way, you don’t have to worry about other products interfering with the effect of retinol on your face.

This is another good reason to save retinol for your evening routine while you use your other serums and skincare products in the morning. Below are the necessary steps to take: 

Cleanse your face

This is the first step of every skincare routine as it is important to make sure your skin is clean before you begin to apply any skincare product to it. Applying your skincare products to dirty skin will clog up your pores and may lead to a breakout. 

To cleanse your face, you need to use a gentle soap or cleanser that won’t irritate your skin. Using a chemical-based cleanser or a scrub can irritate your face, and it’s not wise to apply retinol on an already irritated face. 

Wash your face gently to remove all the dirt and skincare product buildup on your face. After washing your face, rinse the soap off with clean, cool water. Blot your face dry by patting it with a clean, soft towel, and move on to the next step. 

Apply an eye cream

The skin around the eyes is delicate and thin, it is best to protect it from the harsh effect of retinol. Using an eye cream is the best way to protect the skin around your eyes from getting irritated by retinol serum.

Squeeze out a pea-sized amount of your retinol serum and apply it gently on the skin around your eyes in a circular motion. 

Apply your retinol serum

After applying eye cream on the skin around your eyes, wait for your face to completely dry up before applying your retinol serum. Applying retinol serum on damp skin will allow the serum to penetrate too deep into the skin and that will irritate your skin.

How to do it:

  • Use your dropper to squeeze out a drop of retinol into your palm. 
  • Rub your palms together to warm up the serum and apply it all over your face. 
  • Apply the serum in a circular motion or an upward and downward movement.
  • Ensure that you cover the whole area of your face.

Moisturize your skin

Apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer on your skin to restore hydration to your skin. Do this after about 30 minutes of using your retinol. Using your moisturizer immediately after using retinol will interfere with the effectiveness of the serum.

Side effects of using a retinol serum

The number one side effect of using retinol serum is the sensitivity to the sun caused by the ingredient. Then the other common side effect of retinol serum is that it has a drying effect on the skin.

Using the serum incorrectly will trigger side effects and these side effects include:

  • Flaking of the skin
  • Discoloration 
  • Redness 
  • Swelling of the skin

Severe side effects such as hives, burn and discomfort may occur due to allergic reactions to the ingredient. It is best to carry out a patch test on your wrist to check for allergic reactions before you start using the serum.

If you have skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema, consult a dermatologist for advice before using the serum on your skin

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you use retinol serum?

You can use your retinol as often as every night. However, this only applies to you if you have been using retinol on your skin before. 

If you are a first-time retinol serum user, you can only apply it once or twice weekly to get your skin accustomed to it. After a month of using it without your skin freaking out, you can build up to daily usage. 

Is it safe to use retinol serum?

Yes, it is. Retinol serum has been confirmed safe to use on all skin types. However, you need to be careful when you are using retinol on your skin for the first time. Do a patch test to check for allergic reactions before you incorporate the serum into your routine.

Also, if you have skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea, you have to consult your dermatologist before using retinol serum on your skin. 

Should you use retinol serum in the morning?

No, you shouldn’t. You should only use your retinol serum in your nighttime routine. Don’t use retinol serum in your morning routine to avoid the risk of getting your skin burned by the sun. 

Retinol makes the skin sensitive to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun and retinol itself is sensitive to direct sunlight. Using retinol in the morning before going out into the sun will make your skin prone to sunburn. It will also deactivate your retinol and make it less effective.


Using retinol serum for your face is probably the best skincare decision you’d ever make. Retinol has been confirmed by several dermatologists and studies to be one of the best and outstanding age-defying ingredients in the skincare world. 

One of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of using retinol on the skin is by using retinol serum. If you are battling acne, spots, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, aging, or uneven skin tone, retinol serum is a must-have in your skincare regimen. 

Retinol increases collagen and elastin production to boost the appearance of your skin. Follow the guide provided to you in this article to incorporate the use of retinol serum in your routine and your skin will thank you for it.

Thanks for reading.

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