I’ve talked so much about retinoids in the last few weeks - but still, it seems there’s an insatiable appetite for knowledge and understanding. So here's my top 5 retinoid hacks - and there are lots of them!! - to help you conquer any fear you might have around starting one.
How do I start a retinoid?
Consider stripping everything else out
When you’re starting out with a retinoid, the first thing you might want to consider is removing other variables. If you get irritated, you want to know why. This makes sense from an efficacy point of view too, given that there’s no ingredient that will do more for your skin than a retinoid, potentially. If you’re well-established on another Active, that’s fine. But try to limit any further changes so that you’re able to trace what’s doing what.
How do I choose a retinoid?
Choose your starter retinoid wisely.
There are a number of options to pick from. In the over-the-counter space, they have broadly similar benefits. Retinol is perhaps the most recognised and widely available. Whilst strengths range from 0.1% to 1% retinol, I’d recommend you try 0.3% as a beginning level.
Or if you prefer to try retinal (also known as retinaldehyde) try 0.05%. Then we have newcomer Granactive Retinoid - I feel this has the edge as it doesn’t require conversion by enzymes to become active in the skin (whereas retinol and retinal both do). 2% Granactive Retinoid works well without irritation. If you’re seeing a physician, then prescription retinoids might be on the cards, especially if you have acne or melasma.
How do I reduce retinoid irritation?
This was the tip I didn’t know when I was training in dermatology - 7 long years not knowing it, what a mistake!!! And its so simple. Use a bland moisturiser like Cerave Moisturising Lotion or Cream; Flawless Moisturiser is also great.
Make sure it’s non-clogging so you’re not counteracting the benefits of your retinoid. And go rich in texture. There’s no need to worry about looking extra-dewy, you’re going to bed!!
Are there any areas I shouldn’t use a retinoid?
Respect the eyes, lips and neck (and also any grooves or hollows!).
These are the places you’re going to get dry. Pay attention!! Moisturiser goggles, a comforting layer on the neck and a slick of lip balm before application can avoid all sorts of issues.
Whilst of course we want to harness the potential benefits of retinoids in these areas too, have your tricks ready and don’t attempt retinoid use on delicate zones like the eyes or neck until you’ve built up your experience.
How much retinoid should I use?
Dose it - and use less than you think!!!
Even with experienced patients, I find I need to reinforce this. The temptation is so often to use more. A pea is more than enough, when you’re starting out and feeling your way, I promise!!! It’s precisely the reason why I developed the 13 Dot Technique.
Retinoids are an ingredient powerhouse but must be treated with respect. However with a few insider hacks, you’ll be able to build confidence and mastery, allowing you to stick with the habit and reap the rewards!