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Retinol for beginners

Learn more about the benefits of retinol products and how to incorporate them into your routine.
Dr Patel



Why are people so afraid to start a topical retinoid?
Starting a topical retinol can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be! The scare mongering sur-rounding retinol use often revolves around the erratic and possible over-use of very potent retinoids. There are plenty of success stories when it comes to gentler but very effective topical retinols, which are much easier to use and need not cause any problems if used sensibly.

Why should you be using a topical retinoid?
If used correctly, topical retinol can change the skin for the better, with more even skin tone, reduced fine lines and wrinkles and just general overall improved skin health. My continued advice in this area always comes down to picking the right product for you.

What should you look for in your retinol product?
As a starter, I would always opt for a retinol product that has some buffering ingredients, like glycerin for example, and other hydrating ingredients that may help beginner skin get used to the retinol, as retinol use can cause some dryness and irritation, which is essentially a sign that it’s working. If this happens, I always recommend reducing the amount and frequency of the topical ret-inol and increasing the amount of moisturiser temporarily.

Where does a retinol fit into your skincare routine?
When starting to use a retinol it’s important to not use in the same section of your skin care routine as a chemical or physical exfoliant, as this will only make your skin more sensitive to the topical reti-nol. Always apply at night - start low and go slow, which means start with a lower concentration of topical retinol and incorporate it very slowly into your skincare routine. For example, start using it every couple of days and if your skin copes well, you can up the usage very slowly until it becomes daily. When applying the retinol, it’s important to always apply on cleansed but dry skin, as damp skin can make your skin more reactive to the retinol. I often recommend cleansing and drying the face and then waiting several minutes before applying the retinol to really ensure the skin is dry before application.

Finally, it is very important to always use a sunscreen the following day to protect the skin from any damage but also, to not undo any of that good work the topical retinol has done.

About the Author Dr Pyal Patel AKA The Blushing Doc is a NHS GP specialising in Dermatology, Skincare/Haircare Specialist.

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