I think we were all there: We unwrapped that shiny new bottle of strong retinol and painted our faces before going to bed in the hope that we would wake up the next morning with the baby’s skin. But in fact, we see redness, bumps and peeling skin staring at us in the mirror. Don’t get me wrong, retinol is one of the absolute holy grains of skin care – there’s a reason why it’s nicknamed the gold standard against aging – but not all products work for everyone and sometimes regular cleansing can turn into serious irritation overnight. .
“As we know that retinols are great for maintaining the youthful and toned appearance of our skin, some factors or formulations can definitely be too strong,” says famous esthetician Nerida Joy. “Certain periods or seasons, the climate and environment in which we find ourselves, and our own mental and physical health can all make retinol ‘too much.'” Here’s how to find out when it’s time to change a retinol product. and try another, or stop using it altogether (at least for a while).
Signs to look for
“Symptoms of excessive retinol or excessive retinol use include reddening of the skin, peeling, irritation and thinning,” explains Joy. In some extreme cases, “overuse can even cause ‘burns in retinol’, which is when the reaction causes damage and the skin becomes highly sensitive or extremely irritated,” says Tammy Fender, a holistic skin care professional and founder of the skin care brand of the same name. skin. . “But what is not so easy to see are the long-term effects that excessive use can have, and in some extreme cases, can make the skin look more advanced with age due to thinning.”
What to do next
If you experience any of these side effects, the best solution is to first take a break from retinol and nourish it with barrier-strengthening ingredients such as ceramides to return to optimal health. “When using retinol-type products, it’s important to give the skin a break so it can replenish,” says Fender. “Skin needs to shut down!”
Then, when you return to using retinol, lighten the strength you use – 0.25, 0.3, 0.5 or 1 percent (weakest to strongest) – and see if it helps. “Retinoids are all members of the vitamin A family and all have different strengths and molecular weights,” explains Joy. “Prescription retin-A – also known as retinoic acid – is the most aggressive and will have a harder effect on the skin than the finer over-the-counter retinol complex (which has the lowest molecular weight), retinyl acetate. , retinyl propionate and retinyl palmitate (which has the largest). In other words, the complex will be more stable and offer more effective long-term results because it can be used regularly and works safely on all levels of the skin without the harsh effects of more aggressive treatments. This is what creates a strong skin structure and can therefore keep our skin youthful over time. ”
Fender also follows a less is more approach. “Of course, every person’s skin is unique, but I would start slowly with any retinol product and at the first signs of irritation I would recommend that you treat your skin with ultra soothing products such as herbal milk serum and Intensive Repair Soothing Balm. . With retinol or any kind of exfoliation or resurfacing treatment, you need to replenish your skin, and these two recipes are designed for just that. ”
But what about “normal cleaning”?
Joy doesn’t think the skin needs to be cleansed at all by introducing retinol or retinoid. “If your skin is red, sensitive, irritated and peeling from retinol use, replace it and use a lighter, softer product,” he advises. “I don’t believe you have to go through this phase to get the benefits of using retinol.” There are two things you can do to also avoid retinol irritation: “Apply retinol every night on a non-retinol serum or mix a little moisturizer with a retinol cream – known as a buffer – to get the benefits, but without the inconvenience,” he adds. “I also believe that using a softer complex of retinoids every night is better than using a stronger two or three times a week.”
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