How to Use Retinol Serum

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For a long time, retinol has been a buzzword in the skincare industry, with everyone from high-end brands manufacturing retinol creams and serums worth hundreds of pounds to supermarkets following suit and creating their own retinol skincare products. But, why do most people prefer serums over creams?

According to Dr. Adeline Kikam, dermatologist and founder of Brown Skin Derm, she believes that serums contain higher concentrations of active ingredients as they are light or thinner liquids that tend to absorb very well into the skin. As such, while creams and lotions are still effective, serums (such as the La Roche-Posay Retinol 0.3% + Vitamin B3 Serum) penetrate the skin barrier more easily and thus have a more dramatic impact.

With such information, it makes sense why most skincare lovers prefer using serums over creams. Moreover, serums are perfect for oily skin types since they’re non-greasy, while cream formulations (like the Drunk Elephant Retinol Cream) can make retinol more comfortable for drier skin types, according to Dr. Kikam. It’s one of the reasons why It’s crucial to know your skin type and skincare concerns and how it reacts to potent ingredients like retinol when choosing between those formulations.

Basically, that’s how you can decide between retinol serum vs cream.

Now that the other question is answered, there still remains a question: what even is a retinol serum? Why has it become a buzzword in the skincare industry and what are its benefits?

Well, some of us think of retinol as an anti-aging skincare ingredient, while others have heard it referred to as an acne remedy. And, they’re not wrong, but there’s more to retinol serums than what we know of.

What is Retinol Serum?

Retinol is a form of retinoid that is a vitamin A derivative that is used for anti-aging and can be found in many skincare products. Many people believe that retinol is an exfoliator, however, it is actually an antioxidant.

Additionally, retinol became a popular skincare ingredient for softening and avoiding fine lines and wrinkles, as well as reducing pore size and acne, boosting collagen formation, minimizing the appearance of dark spots, increasing cell turnover, and improving skin texture. Esthetician Restee Rouleau described retinol serum to have a magical ability to resurface the skin’s texture for a smoother, more even-toned look.

Benefits of Retinol Serum

1. Reduces indications of aging

When you use retinol serum, it helps your skin appear more youthful. This is because retinol serum helps increase your skin cell turnover, turning your old cells into new ones. 

2. Improves skin texture

Collagen production is increased, giving your skin more turgidity, structure, and strength. Moreover, the cells on the surface of your skin will be replaced more quickly, assisting in the smoothing of your skin and the reduction of the dull, dry appearance of dead skin.

3. Smoothen and even out skin tone

Retinol can not only smooth the texture of your skin but can also even out the tone. “Retinol fades hyperpigmentation (dark spots and patches) and gives the appearance of smoother skin in a softer, non-drying approach than a prescription form,” Rouleau explains.

4. Reduce skin oiliness and clear acne

Retinol reduces the action of hyperactive oil glands and unclogs pores, which helps to clear acne. Hence, retinol clears skin, minimizes pores, and prevents outbreaks. It further increases the potency of active chemicals in other acne-fighting drugs. So, if you combine it with other cleansers, you may notice even better results.

5. Increase collagen formation

Collagen formation is increased, which aids in the reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin laxity. Retinol slows down the enzyme that breaks down collagen and elastin, preventing the loss of what we currently have.

6. Reverses sun damage

Retinol’s antioxidants can aid in the restoration of sun-damaged skin, such as lightening dark spots.

How to Use Retinol Serum

It’s essential to know that when retinol is applied to the skin, cells in the basal layer (the epidermis’s innermost layer) divide, causing new epidermal cells to migrate to the skin’s surface. The old cells are shed as new ones come. In other words, this is the exfoliation procedure.

While fine lines and wrinkles disappear and hyperpigmentation fades, while your skin adjusts to this new active ingredient, you may experience side effects such as dryness, mild irritation, and sun sensitivity.

Despite the fact that retinol promotes younger-looking skin, there are a few things you should know about this strong chemical before putting it into your beauty routine. Moreover, it’s essential to be so patient with retinol as it takes around six weeks to start showing results.

When to Use Retinol Serum

Hence, here are a few reminders on when to use retinol serum and include it in your skincare routine:

Apply Only at Night

Because retinol makes the skin more sun-sensitive, apply it at night and use sunscreen during the day — this is critical because sun exposure can cause more damage and premature aging to the skin.

Start Slow

Many people make the mistake of rushing into things because they want to see results right away. Since the skin is still responding to the substance, this application method is difficult for most people.

It’s best to use it every two to three nights at first. If your skin doesn’t show any signs of flakiness, irritation, or redness, you can progressively add an extra day if your skin can manage it. These side effects are common in the beginning, so keep an eye on how your skin responds.

Don’t Overdo Using It

To receive the full retinol serum benefits, only a pea-sized amount is required; a little actually goes a long way! You might want to mix your retinol serum with your face moisturizer at first to make it a little gentler on your skin, especially if it’s dry or sensitive.

Be Patient

There is no such thing as a quick fix, and if you want to see results, you must be consistent, which can take up to 12 weeks in some situations. If you stick with it, you’ll notice a difference over time. Studies also show that epidermal thickness rose after four weeks. Hence, a considerable reduction in facial wrinkles after twelve weeks.

Final Thoughts

With retinol serum as a popular buzzword skincare ingredient in the skincare industry, it’s resulting in magic to most skincare lovers. It helps in softening and avoiding fine lines and wrinkles, reducing pore size, increasing cell turnover, and enhancing skin texture.

If you want to further build on your skincare routine, you may also want to look into the combination of hyaluronic acid with retinol.

Even so, if you want the best results, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying retinol serums from a reputable brand that has the right strength for your skin type. And, of course, you should know first your skincare concerns before committing to such skincare products to avoid contracting skin allergies in the future.

So, are you choosing to add retinol serums to your skincare regimen? Let us know in the comments below.