In Getting to Know Retinoids Part One, we learned about retinoids, which species we know and what effects it has on the skin. For beginners introducing actives, there is always fear, as they do not know which form to choose, what concentration of active ingredient to choose for the first attempt, what amount of product to apply, and whether the active ingredient included in their routine can also be combined with other pre-existing products in their routine. All of these questions are answered in this post.

Which form of retinoid should I choose?

In the post Getting to Know Retinoids Part 1, we looked at possible forms of retinoids available in the market. But what form to choose? Namely, we all want maximum effects, but a beginner certainly cannot start with tretinoin (biologically active form – the golden standard). For beginners, it is advisable to choose the least “strong” form of retinoid (retinol or Granactive Retinoid) to avoid side effects. After the skin becomes accustomed to a certain form of retinoid and concentration, you can reach for a stronger form.

At the same time, you should be aware that there are cosmetics and medicines with vitamin A derivatives. If you are experiencing serious acne or melasma, it is best to consult a dermatologist about the use of vitamin A derivatives, who will prescribe the correct topical or systemic forms.

Which retinoid concentration to choose?

The second biggest problem for beginners is which retinoid concentration to choose and when to increase the concentration. The easiest tip is to stick to forms of retinoids that are not available in many concentrations. Start with the lowest concentration. Retinol, available in concentrations of 0.1-1%, is the most begrudging form for beginners, while retinaldehyde and Granactive retinoid come in only two or three different concentrations. So after you choose the right form, choose the lowest possible concentration at the beginning.

When to Increase Retinoid Strength and Move to Higher Concentration?

It takes our skin about 6 weeks to fully recover and at that time we can evaluate or need higher concentrations to maximize the effects of the asset. If the skin has become completely accustomed to the daily use of retinoid, you can increase the concentration of the selected retinoid after about 2 months. When you reach the maximum concentration of the selected retinoid available in the market, you can introduce a stronger form of retinoids.

Can I use retinoids every night from the beginning?

When you start using retinoids, remind yourself that this is not a sprint, but long distance running. So, start slow – do not start using retinoids daily. Many dermatologists recommend that you initially use retinoids every second or third evening, starting with smaller amounts (pea size or half a pad).

If, after about two weeks, you find that your use of retinoids is appropriate, you can increase the number of evenings you use (eg every night). At the same time, you can also increase the amount of retinoid you use (whole pad).

How Do I Apply Retinoid Properly?

Before using retinoids, make sure you have a good serum (with ceramides, niacinamide) to apply in the evening before using retinoids. By using this kind of product before applying the retinoid, we increase the skin’s tolerance while preventing the retinoid from lingering and irritating in areas where the skin is already dry. Before applying the retinoids apply the serum and wait at least 10 minutes for it to absorb into the skin.

Give particular attention to the thinner parts of the skin, especially around the eyes and lips, before applying the retinoid. Apply a lip balm to the lips before applying the retinoids.

When applying the selected retinoid, be sure to rub the product into the skin to ensure that the effect is where we want it to be. Take special care where you have wrinkles, as the product may linger there and potentially irritate the skin.

How is it when using other actives at the time of retinoid introduction?

At the time you start using retinoids, stop using all other assets such as acids and various vitamins. Not because they would fight with each other, but to reduce the possibility of side effects (dryness, irritation, redness. Because each skin has individual needs, it is possible that you can quickly re-integrate all other assets into your routine, but not necessary. In the beginning, focus only on the use of retinoids.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

Use the right amount of sunscreen every day (2mg / cm2)! Retinoids increase the photosensitivity of the skin and make it more sensitive to UV radiation. Despite the fact that the use of retinoids in the long run increases the thickness of the dermis and increases the synthesis of collagen and elastin, inappropriate protection against UV radiation can cause the opposite, namely the collapse of collagen.

Myths about retinoids

Retinoids should not be used in combination with acids

There is no research anywhere to prove or conclude that AHA or BHA deactivate or make retinol less effective when used in the same skin care routine. The misconception about using retinol with AHA or BHA is related to the pH value of acid peels that lower the skin’s pH. This is thought to interfere with the ability of retinol to convert to the active form, which has not, of course, been proven.

Retinoids should not be used in combination with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another ingredient that is claimed not to be used in combination with retinol. Like the myth of AHA and BHA, this one is based on the pH / acidity issue. Vitamin C requires a low pH in order to remain stable. We know that retinol works in an acidic environment and that the pH of the skin is naturally acidic, so what research has shown us is a clear example where combining vitamin C + retinol makes sense.

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