Is It Okay To Wear Retinol In The Summer? Here's What To Know

Anyone with a comprehensive skincare routine has at least one retinol product in their lineup. This superstar skincare ingredient is known for its aggressive yet effective way of treating acne and other skin issues. Known for its anti-aging properties and repairing issues like hyperpigmentation, there's a reason why this ingredient is much beloved in the skincare world. Although many are familiar with the powerful ingredient, there are some precautions you should take and things you should know before using retinol. Some of these include using sunscreen to avoid skin irritation from the sun's rays.

While retinol is a skincare favorite for those looking to get clear and healthy skin, many stop using it once summer rolls around. Since retinol can make the skin more sensitive to UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, some don't want to risk applying such a potent ingredient to their skin during the summer. Many believe it's best to leave it out of their skincare routine altogether to avoid burns or irritations. Although the concept is understandable, there's no need to leave this crucial ingredient out of your summer skincare routine. That's right: It is okay to wear retinol in the summer.

The best way to wear retinol in the summer

Although retinol and sun don't mix, there's no reason why you have to leave retinol out of your summer lineup — it's all about taking the right precautions. "Retinol works to improve signs of aging by boosting cellular turnover, eliminating dull skin cells and bringing new, healthy ones to the surface," licensed medical aesthetician Kari Denk tells Skincare.com. "The last thing we want to do is damage them." 

And it's no secret that the sun's harmful rays can damage those skin cells. Plus, according to dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, "Retinoids are naturally photo-unstable, meaning they break down in sunlight, making them less effective" (via Well + Good). However, with the proper precautions, you can use your retinol product for the entire year. In fact, using retinol in the summer isn't much different than how you should use it the rest of the year.

But during the warmer months, increased use of sunscreen and using sun protection like hats are some of the ways that you can protect your skin. Whether or not you're using retinol, you should beware of UV rays and reapply sunscreen every few hours. Avoiding peak sun hours will reduce the likelihood of exposure to sun rays. Long story short, using your retinol product with precaution and proper care will ensure you get the most out of this anti-aging ingredient. 

Use retinol wisely

Using retinol is no challenge but requires a few extra steps. "Wear protective clothing like hats and long sleeves, stay in the shade whenever possible, and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher," board-certified dermatologist Stacy Chimento tells Real Simple. "Also, make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours. If you are suffering from sunburns, I would pause the use of retinol until about a week after increased sun exposure."

Even if you don't plan to be directly in the sun, using sunscreen even while indoors will avoid potentially catching the rays through open windows or doors. When applying retinol, you want to use it at night instead of during the day. Using retinol at night ensures it can regenerate your cells without the added worry of it becoming ineffective by the sun.

Utilize your nighttime skincare routine as the primary retinol step to give your skin a break from the sun, with all the benefits of retinol. Dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson recommends, via Ipsy, to look out for ingredients that could potentially trigger adverse skin reactions. Vitamin C and AHAs are ingredients you should avoid mixing with retinol. Reviewing proper use of retinol ensures you're ready for healthy and clear skin — all year round.