How To Determine What Concentration Of Retinol You Should Use

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While most skincare products are straightforward and to the point, products like retinol require more restraint and direction. Because retinol is intense, it has to be used within a range and with various precautions. According to the Cleveland Clinic, retinol is a type of vitamin A that can increase cell production, unclog pores, exfoliate the skin, and increase collagen production. With all of these various jobs it takes, retinol is a powerful ingredient that needs to be handled carefully.


Although there is a difference in concentrations in prescribed and over-the-counter retinol, both have the same purpose of helping to clear the skin. When using over-the-counter retinol, whether in another product or on its own, the concentration of retinol is the most important figure to be aware of. The amount of concentration will determine how strong the retinol is, but it can also be rough on your skin if you don't go for the correct amount. Determining the right concentration for you is key to ensuring that retinol works for you and not against your skin.

The best retinol concentration to use

The key to picking the correct concentration level for you will depend on whether you've used retinol before and your skin needs. According to Modern Dermatology, the base level you want to stay at is 0.25%. While this is the lowest level of retinol you can use, it's enough to still get all of the benefits of the ingredient. Modern Dermatology also suggests using 0.025% to 0.25% if you've never used retinol before. When it comes to ingredients like retinol, you want to start low and work your way up as your skin adjusts.


While 0.25% is a good base for those who are just starting to use retinol, it's also optimal for those with sensitive or drier skin. Paula's Choice determines moderate-strength retinol as anything from 0.03% to 0.3%, which is great for those whose skin has grown accustomed to the lowest level of retinol and have normal skin. The highest level of retinol is anything between 0.3% and 1%. This level of retinol is reserved for advanced users of the ingredient who have deeper skin issues that need something more aggressive to tackle it.

Even though the lowest level of retinol concentration is best for those with sensitive skin if you've never used retinol before you want to start at this lowest level as it can cause skin reactions like redness and flaking.


How to use retinol safely

Once you've figured out the best concentration for your skin, you also need to know how to use retinol. Because retinol has the power to severely affect your skin, you'll want to use the ingredient carefully. When applying retinol, Dermstore recommends applying it after cleansing your skin and ensuring it is dry. You never want to put retinol to damp skin as this can cause further irritation. Then you'll want to apply a pea-sized amount to the skin. Whenever you use retinol, you want to ensure you are using sunscreen every morning, as the sun can cause significant damage when mixed in with retinol.


Ipsy also recommends using retinol only a few times a week to get your skin used to the ingredient without causing skin reactions. If you are just using retinol, try adding it to your skincare routine twice a week. The first couple of uses will bring about flaking and slight irritation, however, this is completely normal for the first couple of times. Once your skin has calmed down two times a week, you can slowly add in more uses. If you notice your skin not calming down after an increase in usage, you can bring it back down.