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Retinol, a derivative that helps address signs of aging, is often praised for its effectiveness. Yet, many women are still hesitant to use it. Blame it on early products from the ’80s, which, although revolutionary, were also notorious for irritating the skin. Today, the best retinol products in the market are gentle enough for daily use. Here are some tips on handling retinol side effects and using it for different skin types.

Using Retinol for Your Skin Type and Needs

An anti-aging active under the retinoid family, retinol is known as the gold standard in keeping wrinkles at bay. But while it is highly associated with mature skin, it can go beyond addressing fine lines and work for other skin types.

For example, retinol can fight problems that come with excess sebum, making it suitable for oily skin. Because its main action is accelerating cellular turnover, it also helps acne-prone skin by sloughing off dead skin and preventing clogged pores.

More potent retinoid derivatives such as tretinoin (a.k.a. retinoic acid) can also address photoaging. Because of its potency and , it is only available with a prescription. According to the research and development team of Unilever Beauty & Well-being, these include itchiness, burning sensation, redness, and peeling. Retinol, on the other hand, has fewer side effects and doesn’t cause dramatic peeling with proper use.

Even sensitive skin can benefit from retinol with the guidance of a dermatologist. The best retinol products for this skin type can fall under other vitamin A derivatives like retinaldehyde, retinoic acid, and retinyl esters. Both retinol and retinyl esters are relatively less irritating than retinoic acid and may be used by individuals with sensitive skin, according to Unilever R&D.

Moreover, since the skin , retinol use is recommended starting at age 25. 

How to Avoid and Address Retinol Side Effects

Since everyone’s skin is different, it’s difficult to predict which skincare ingredients can trigger a reaction. Here are some tips that can help make your retinol journey as pleasant and fruitful as it can be.

Know your skin type.

Retinol, being an agent of cellular turnover, naturally peels the skin. While this is a normal side effect, results can be even more intense if you have existing conditions such as eczema or rosacea. Knowing your skin type and its needs is crucial to safe and effective retinol use. Consult your doctor before adding retinol to your regimen, even if you are using gentle cosmeceuticals.

Start slow and low.

Retinols come in different strengths. While higher concentrations yield more dramatic results, going straight for these is ill-advised. It’s like introducing a new member with a strong personality to your friend group – you want to take it slow and start exposing them in tolerable doses.

Over-the-counter retinol products range from 0.1% to 0.5% on the low end and 1-2% on the high end. Stick to a low concentration until your skin adjusts to the . Perform a patch test to rule out allergies before applying it all over your face. If you want to be extra cautious, try using your product twice a week at first. Use only moisturizer on “rest days” to counter any irritation.

POND'S Age Miracle Double Action Serum with Niacinamide and Prebiotic Complex for a Youthful Glow is a retinol serum with 30x more skin renewal actives than its cream counterparts. With regular use, it helps reduce fine lines, improves skin regeneration, and increases hydration for plump, dewy skin.

Adjust and adapt.

Be patient as your skin adjusts to your new skincare routine. Pay attention to how it reacts, not just to the retinol but to the combination of products you are using. Moreover, go easy on exfoliating with AHAs, since these can make your skin more sensitive. If your skin starts to feel tight and itchy, respond by temporarily switching to hydrating products with niacinamide, , or to repair your skin barrier.

Try POND'S Bright Miracle Night Serum, an anti-aging product that renews your skin while you sleep. Made with niasorcinol, this serum essence brightens dark spots and refines the skin. 

Start taking your SPF even more seriously since retinol typically increases sun sensitivity. While they won't turn you into a vampire (yes, you can still enjoy the sun), make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating. Make sure to cover often forgotten areas such as your hairline, nose, jaw, and neck.

Complement your skincare regimen with POND'S Age Miracle Anti-Aging BB+ Cream Light SPF 30 PA++ with Retinol Boosters for Radiant Skin, a BB cream with skincare benefits. It gives you a flawless, natural look while protecting your skin from sun damage.

Let It Sink In

Literally! Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient, but like any other treatment, it’s not magic. Improvements in your skin may take time, so don’t give up too soon. That said, be open to the idea of switching to a different formula for better results. Talk to your doctor if you experience adverse side effects or need advice on the best retinol products to use.

Check out our related article, "," an overview on retinol and what it does for your skin.