10 Burning Questions About Retinol, Answered

Retinol is a popular Vitamin A derivative vital in lightening and brightening the skin and making it supple and younger-looking. Because of its unique working and effects on different dermis layers, several people have queries regarding its safety, efficacy, and working mechanisms.

Here are the answers to 10 burning questions about Retinol

What Does Retinol do to Your Skin?

Retinol works on multiple areas of the dermis, both externally and internally, to repair signs of skin damage.

Aging occurs in two ways.

  • Normal chronological aging process characterized by reduction of collagen and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

  • Sun / UV radiation-induced photoaging or skin damage.

Retinol patients have reported that using it reduces fine lines and wrinkles and gives skin a healthy appearance. Animal studies have even shown that it works on hyperpigmentation causing reticulin fibers and improves the appearance of photoaged skin.

Does Retinol Fade Dark Spots?

It is known that dark spots result from the overproduction of the tyrosinase enzyme that produces melanin. Retinol works on the tyrosinase enzymes and inhibits their production in a dose-dependent manner to reduce dark spots successfully.

Using it can make you sensitive to light. So if you are regularly exposed to the sun, you should use a strong sunscreen or protective measure to avoid tanning. Alternatively, you can ask your dermatologist to suggest another product instead of Retinol or a combination Retinol serum instead of using it whole that works better on your skin.

Is it ok to use Retinol Every Day?

Despite its benefits, Retinol in the initial days of use can make your skin sensitive and aggravate the inflammation or preexisting acne. To avoid these complications, dermatologists recommend starting it in a lower dose and doing a test patch to check the extent of its effectiveness.

The best way to use Retinol is to use it once every three to four days for the first few weeks and gradually increase the usage to once daily.

Does Retinol Dry Out the Skin?

Retinol tends to dry out the skin and produce a peeling effect in the initial usage period. The peeling gradually reverses and your skin gets used to its mild tingling effects.

To use it safely, moisturize your skin after using Retinol to balance out Retinol's dryness. Avoid using toners and astringents during this period, as they can aggravate the inflammation significantly.

Does Retinol Improve Skin Texture?

Retinol reduces hyperpigmentation caused by aging, acne scars, or sun effects and gives the skin a healthier shine. Retinol also improves collagen production, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, and makes skin look supple and younger-looking.

But it would help if you read the information on the leaflet about using it and avoid overusing it as it can backfire and result in side effects. A question asked by some users is regarding the combination use of Retinol. Retinol can be used in combination with Vitamin C and Salicylic Acid compounds. But you should consult your dermatologist before using them as they tend to increase irritation before working.

Can I Rub in Retinol?

You should never rub Retinol on your skin as it can aggravate the irritation. Take a pea-sized amount of Retinol and gently massage it on the skin in a circular motion. Don't use more than a pea-sized amount, as it will lead to the wastage of Retinol.

Wait for the Retinol to be entirely absorbed by the skin before you apply moisturizer or sunscreen.

What to Avoid When Using Retinol?

While using Retinol

  • Avoid going out in the sun after using it

  • Avoid using Retinol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Avoid toners, and astringents with it

  • Avoid combining it with Apple Cider Vinegar Acid Peel

  • Avoid Retinol with benzoic Acid

  • Avoid Retinol with AHA/BHA

  • Avoid alcohol while using Retinol as it can mitigate its effects.

How do I know if Retinol is working?

You will observe a slight increase in acne during the first four to five weeks of using it, but it is expected as Retinol works on the inner layers of comedones to push them outside. After four to five weeks, you will start observing a visible reduction in acne and clearer and blemish-free skin which is when you will know whether your Retinol is working,

How Long Should I Leave Retinol on my Face?

You should leave Retinol on for at least twenty minutes to be absorbed in your skin. The best way to use it is by applying it nightly so it gets enough time to be soaked in the dermis.

What will Happen if I don't Refrigerate my Retinol?

Heat and light can degrade its components and make it expire quickly. Once you have opened or unsealed Retinol, close the lid tightly after use and refrigerate it to preserve its benefits. Use it within three months of opening to get the best results.


Several people that have used Retinol regularly have observed a decrease in age spots and pigmentation in a short time. Retinol is available in cream, gel, and serum form that can be obtained over the counter or ordered through a prescription from pharmacies. But you must take care to use it as per your physician's instructions to avoid side effects or adverse reactions from it.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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