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Do I need retinol in my skincare routine?

Posted by Blooms The Chemist on 1 May 2024

Do I need retinol in my skincare routine?


Few skincare ingredients have been as widely studied—and shown to be as effective—as retinol. 

As a result, products containing retinol have become increasingly popular for improving the appearance of mature or mild acne-prone skin. 

So, what is it? What does it do? And how do we use retinol to improve the appearance of our skin?

What is retinol?

A chemical derivative of vitamin A, retinol is a topical retinoid available as an over-the-counter alternative to more powerful prescription retinoids like retinoic acid and tretinoin.

What does retinol do?

One of the reasons for its wide popularity are the benefits that retinol offers mature or mild acne-prone skin:

  1. Its chemical exfoliating properties encourage skin cell renewal and turnover – a process that naturally slows as we age. Inefficient skin cell turnover often plays a role in clogged pores and blemishes, so boosting turnover may help mild acne-prone skin and ketosis pilaris (aka ‘chicken skin’).
  2. Increased skin cell turnover also helps brighten skin, fading or reducing post-blemish marks and dark spots.
  3. Retinol combats oxidative stress from free radicals generated by UV exposure or other environmental aggressors. Oxidative stress contributes to the breakdown of collagen and elastin and accelerates skin ageing. An effective antioxidant, retinol helps boost production of elastin and collagen in the skin’s middle layer, which can reduce the visible appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores.

How do I use retinol in my skincare routine?

Retinol is available in different product formats:

  • Creams
  • Gels
  • Lotions
  • Serums

Skin does most of its repair work at night, so it's recommended that you apply retinol as part of your evening routine. Avoid using retinol in the morning because exposure to sunlight can reduce its potency.

And because retinol enhances skin cell turnover, all those fresh, new cells at the skin’s surface make it extra sensitive to sun exposure. So, we also recommend you ALWAYS use a broad spectrum, high SPF sunscreen throughout the day.

Apply your retinol product after cleansing, and before other serums or moisturisers. You need to apply only a pea-sized amount of product in a thin layer over your entire face (avoid the eye area).

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum has been specifically formulated with slow-release, encapsulated retinol to gently target post-blemish marks, dark spots and pores. It’s best suited for use on mild acne-prone, combination or oily skin types.

After cleansing, ensure your face is completely dry before applying a small amount of CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum. Once dry, apply your usual moisturiser. This serum can be used daily as part of your night-time skincare routine.

Are there any side effects?

Retinol can cause some sensitivity and irritation initially, so take things slowly to begin with until your skin develops tolerance to it. Start by using every second or third day for the first few weeks and increase gradually to daily use.

Retinol can lead to excessive dryness and irritated skin, so using a moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid afterwards is both hydrating and comforting. You could also combine a hyaluronic acid serum with a lipid-rich moisturiser.

  • Visible redness
  • Skin dryness
  • Skin irritation
  • Itching sensations

Does retinol work for blemishes and post-blemish marks?

Retinol’s chemical exfoliating properties, which encourage skin cell turnover, make it an effective option for targeting blemishes and post-blemish marks. 

However, it does take time to work its magic, and you might not see results for at least 12 weeks.

This is a sponsored article written in partnership with CeraVe. You can explore the CeraVe range here.

Always read and follow the directions for use.