Do’s and Don’ts of Retinol Products

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Retinol has been around the skincare block for decades as the gold standard for antiaging, yet there still seems to be questions circling the vitamin A powerhouse. And, that’s okay! Even with a timeless classic that has nearly the power to do it all for skin, we somethings get foggy with retinol’s simpleton beginnings: What is retinol, why do we need it, and how do we use it? Fair, enough.

First off, you’ve come to the right place! Retinol is a winner on our top vitamins for skin list. We’ve talked about it before, dishing out all the exciting details about where and how we source our retinol. But in the meantime, we thought it was time for a refresher on the subject, since retinol products are so important in our skincare routine but can sometimes go overlooked or not used correctly.

Much like the rest of our skincare, there are effective ways to use retinol products and things to avoid. We’ll go over the rules of retinol products, how to incorporate the antiaging superstar in your regimen – plus the best nighttime retinol products for your eyes so you can awaken bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

Retinol Rules

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that is widely known for its ability to increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, and reduce the signs of aging on the skin. Since our cell turnover rate decreases – as does the shedding of dead skin cells – as we age, retinol can help speed back up this process for a renewed, more youthful complexion.

The same goes for aging and slowly losing collagen, which is a protein responsible for skin’s firmness. Collagen-stimulating retinol keeps skin plump and taut, and lessens the appearance of aging signs like fine lines and wrinkles so we can look our freshest and most fabulous.

Just as we would exercise TLC for our beauty, skin, and health as we age, the same is true with retinol products. The love and care we have for ourselves requires a bit of work and effort, and the same is true using retinol correctly to maximize its benefits and keep your skin safe and healthy.

Here are some retinol rules to help ease into retinol products:

Stable Skin Routine: This is a hot tip for incorporating any new product into a skincare regimen, active or not. The skin can respond slower to new additions than say, our stomach would. Ensuring that we maintain the same morning and night skincare routine for at least a few weeks can help us monitor how a retinol product is impacting our skin. Retinols can play well with others if introduced carefully and harmoniously.

Sun Protection: Speaking of a consistent day skincare regimen, it’s vital to use sun protection – no matter the season, weather, clouds, or not! When exposed to sunlight, retinol will break down, resulting in increased sensitivity and vulnerability in skin due to a weakening of the skin’s top-most layer. This degradation from sun can have mild to extreme adverse reactions, ranging from mild skin irritation to lesions and increased risk of melanoma.

Pro-TIP: Even certain types of artificial light emit small amounts of UV rays and can increase the potential for adverse reactions, so if using retinol at night you should avoid direct exposure to fluorescent or halogen light sources. No matter what light source you’re around, just remember the cardinal rule: retinol works right at night!

Use Retinol at Night: Retinol degrades in sunlight. And, speaking of your nightly routine, our biggest reminder is to only apply retinol products at nighttime. Hence, our bedtime-friendly retinol products all stipulate that they should be used in the evening – so don’t break the rules! Not only will retinol for skin work its most potent magic while you sleep, but it will also be at its safest.

Safety of Retinol: Retinol has been flagged as unsafe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, even when applied topically. Since there is little research on how much retinol is safe for use while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best for women in these situations to avoid retinol altogether, or to discuss alternative options with their healthcare provider.

Moreover, if you have reactive or very sensitive skin, it’s best to patch-test retinol first to determine if you’ll have any adverse reactions or sensitivities. If no reactions are noted, you’ll also need to slowly integrate a retinol product in your skincare routine.

Stop Doing with Retinol: When using retinol, it can cause peeling and flaking of the skin since it’s a form of exfoliation. To ensure the safety of your skin, do not combine retinol products with facial peels containing a lot of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) until your skin is used to retinol products. Retinol can cause some skin sensitivities when it’s first started, and using these exfoliating acids will only make matters worse.

Retinol Duration: It’s best to use a retinol product in 3-4 month cycles; observe the results, give your skin a break and then re-introduce retinol back in for the best overall outcome.

Read Labels: If maintaining a safe, healthy skincare routine is important to you, by now you’ll have learned to read labels of retinol products very closely. If cruelty-free and vegan ingredients are important to you, you should know that retinol is often found as a ‘retinoid’, or animal-derived retinol, in conventional products.

PRO-TIP: Read below to find out what type of safe retinol we use in our skincare products.

Watch & Listen: It’s super important to watch the way our skin behaves after introducing a retinol product into the routine. Look out for signs of irritation, dryness, flaking, and peeling or scaliness. This can represent irritation and our skin communicating that we should slow down with or stop retinol.


The Types of Retinol We Use

Retinol is a preformed vitamin A found in animal-derived ingredients called retinoids – and are something we avoid. Vegan retinols, by contrast, are synthetic forms of retinol. These are the potent ingredients in our anti-aging treatments, among other naturally occurring vitamin A enhancers.

Most retinoic acid is derived from the enzymes in milk or egg, and are generally perceived to be more potent for treating skin care issues. Instead we choose to use naturally occurring vitamin A enhancers like carrots and carrot seeds, and opt for synthetic forms of vegan retinol.

We also use avocado and sunflower oils, which contain their own enzymes to help make the products more absorbable by the skin. Those same enzymes help to enhance the effects of vitamin A in our plant-based retinol balm.

The carrot seed oil we use is harvested from the gorgeous flowering tops of wild carrots, commonly known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Carrot seeds aren’t actually seeds by the standard botanical definition; they’re more similar to tiny, shriveled fruits of the flowering plant that grows above ground, while the carrot grows beneath the soil.

The Best Nighttime Retinol Products for Eyes

If you’ve been on (no) sleep mode for a while, your body probably hasn’t been getting enough time to repair itself. One of the most recognizable lack of sleep side effects, dark circles and under eye bags set in when you don’t get enough sleep. This could be due to decreased blood flow to that delicate area, alcohol consumption the night before, or dehydration. This can also occur after too much sun exposure.

Even with wearing your favorite PM moisturizer, your fave formulas and your eye products don’t have a chance to shine if you don’t get enough rest. It’s important to log enough restful sleep for the health of your skin and wellness. Check out our top retinol eye creams for the brightest peepers!

Retinol PM Eye Cream:

Retinol is especially important for your eye area because that particular skin is thinner and more vulnerable to damage. Vitamin A derived is just what you need to smooth those crow’s feet and eye crinkles for a more youthful smile. We’ve included skin-plumping hyaluronic acid to lock in hydration while you sleep, and chamomile butter to deeply moisturize and calm. Have we mentioned that this retinol eye cream is vegan, too?

Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants PM Eye Treatment:

This revolutionary oil-based formula is packed with retinol and other vitamins, and draws upon nutrient-dense oils from jojoba, avocado, rosehip, and green tea to enhance plump suppleness in the skin. Retinol is beneficial for lessening the appearance of sun damage and fine lines, while promoting youthful firmness in the skin. Vitamin C promotes both collagen and elastin synthesis for more plump, elastic skin around the eye area. Vitamin D3 helps to stimulate cellular repair and regeneration, while vitamin E works to fade scarring and signs of environmental damage.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retinol

How Can You Minimize Skin Irritation When Using Retinol?

Yes! You want to pair retinol with a moisturizer to minimize skin irritation because without that added layer of hydration, your risk of skin sensitivity is higher. And, don’t worry – a moisturizer won’t interfere with the skin powers of retinol. It actually seals the goodness in. It’s also advised to avoid skincare ingredients like glycolic and other alpha hydroxy acids, which can contribute to dryness and irritation.

Is Daily Use of Retinol Recommended, and What Are the Guidelines?

Yes, retinol can be used more often and in greater quantity as time goes on, but it’s best recommended to start small with just a pea-size dollop two or three nights a week. This is so the skin can become accustomed to the active ingredient, making it more tolerable over time.

If everything is going well after about two weeks and you’re experiencing no dryness, redness, irritation or flaking, you can gradually increase the frequency of application of the retinol to every other night for a week or two, then nightly.

What Are the Best Practices for Applying Retinol Around Sensitive Areas?

Start slow. Use a low retinol concentration and apply with a moisturizer on top. Pair with other hydrating ingredients in natural skincare products. The eye skin is very delicate and much less sebaceous than facial skin. It may become very irritated and if you apply retinol too close to the lash line. Be careful applying a retinol eye cream in that area.

How Does the Use of Retinol Change with Different Skin Types?

Most skin types can use or adjust accordingly to retinol. However, with reactive or very sensitive skin types, you’ll just need to exercise a bit of caution, such as patch-testing first for any adverse reactions, and slowly integrating retinol into your daily routine.

Can Retinol Products Be Used During the Daytime?

Yes! But it’s vital to use sun protection – no matter the season, weather, clouds, or not! When exposed to sunlight, retinol will break down, resulting in increased sensitivity and vulnerability in skin due to a weakening of the skin’s top-most layer. This degradation from sun can have mild to extreme adverse reactions, ranging from mild skin irritation to lesions and increased risk of melanoma.


Adapting your skincare routine to your age and skin needs is essential for lifelong beauty. From prevention in your 20s to targeted care in your 30s and beyond, each stage requires tailored approaches. Embrace the journey of aging with confidence and care.

If a timeless, antiaging beauty staple as retinol can help smooth over some aging concerns we might all experience at some time, then we say this: Any question is a GREAT question. We invite you to always be curious, as others will be, too. Let’s support each other in our quests for radiant, healthy skin at every age.

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