Retinol is one of the most researched skin care ingredients. It’s recommended by dermatologists everywhere. At REN Dermatology, we view retinol cream as a Holy Grail product for anti-aging and acne. Despite its popularity, many people don’t understand which retinol cream is right for their skin type and how to use it properly. Luckily for us, Dr. Jennifer Lee gave us the 411 on retinol.

What makes a good retinol cream? What should someone look for when buying a retinol cream?

Retinol creams can cause peeling and irritation. Look for ingredients that will help reduce the irritation of the skin. Ingredients such as Vitamin E, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid will help the keep your skin moisturized and fight any potential dryness or irritation while using the retinol. 

The packaging of the Retinol cream is actually important due to the instability of the molecule. Make sure the bottle is opaque so the cream will not be exposed to the sun until it is applied.

There are varying concentrations of Retinol creams. If you have never used a retinol before, try starting with a lower dose retinol. As you continue to use the retinol consistently, you may be able to tolerate higher strengths or even switch to prescription strength Tretinoin.

If you are using retinol for anti-aging purposes, an OTC retinol cream is a great option. However, if you are struggling with acne breakouts, consult with a  Dermatologist at REN Dermatology for a prescription strength which will be more effective for acne.

Skinbetter Science AlphaRet

Why are retinol creams beneficial for the skin? Is it better in a moisturizer or a serum? 

Retinoids have been used for decades to treat acne, but are also used to help fight skin aging.  Retinols are the non-prescription version of Retinoids (Tretinoin is the common prescription strength). When a Retinoid is placed on the skin, it gets converted to an active product called Retinoid acid.  The active Retinoid acid  works to increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen and elastin production and fade hyperpigmentation. All of this helps improve the overall appearance of your skin (smoother, improved complexion, fewer wrinkles).

Using a moisturizer vs serum mostly depends on the type of skin you have. For people with more oily skin, a lighter-weight serum will not clog your pores. However, if you have more sensitive skin, a cream-based Retinol will prevent your skin from getting overly dry. 

Additionally, serums tend to have higher concentrations of retinols.

Who can use a retinol cream? Who should avoid retinol? 

Almost anyone (both men and women) can safely use a retinol cream. However, you should avoid using Retinols if you are: nursing or pregnant, dealing with a facial rash or dermatitis. People should stop least 1 week before a facial treatment (ex: chemical peel, Laser procedure) and wait 1 week before resuming.

SkinMedica Retinol Complex

What ingredients should someone avoid when using a retinol cream and why?

You don’t need to strictly avoid any ingredient when using a Retinol cream. However, products containing other exfoliants (like alpha hydroxy acids) may contribute to increased peeling and dryness. I recommend not trying multiple new products at once. Vitamin C serums along with retinols can also be irritating- try using Vitamin C in the morning and your Retinol at night.

What should one do if they have a negative reaction to a retinol cream? 

Retinols can cause redness, itchiness, dryness, and tightness especially when you first start using. If this happens, take a break from applying for 1-2 nights and apply extra moisturization. If the redness and peeling are persistent, try Hydrocortisone cream twice a day or consult with a Dermatologist from REN Dermatology for further guidance.

Stop by REN Dermatology’s Franklin or Brentwood office to see the retinols we have in stock! Or visit our online store shop.rendermatology.com

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