Can You Use Retinol If You Have Sensitive Skin?

Retinol is the form of vitamin A that provides anti-aging benefits by increasing cell turnover and promoting collagen production. Collagen is responsible for providing elasticity to your skin.

Erin Gilbert, a dermatologist based in New York, says, “Retinol can be used by nearly everyone if it is used correctly.”

But is retinol really good for people with sensitive skin? Let’s find out!

Should People with Sensitive Skin Skip Retinol?

Dermatologists suggest that retinol can be a beneficial addition for most skin types, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

Zenovia Gabriel, MD, also gives her take on this matter:

“People with sensitive skin conditions like rosacea cannot tolerate really strong topicals like retinol.”

Dr. Erin Gilbert adds, “Start low and take it slow.”

So, a one-liner answer is: You can use retinol for sensitive skin, given that you start slow.

How to Use Retinol on Sensitive Skin?

Do a Gentle Cleanse, Always! 

A certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein suggests that start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. It’s better that you find a cleanser infused with skin-soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid for your sensitive skin.

Try a Mild Retinol

For starters, you shouldn’t jump into concentrated retinol. Instead, use a mild version to see whether things go the right way.

Moisturize 

Dehydrated, flaky skin ups the ante for sensitive skin folks. So, applying any form of retinol without moisturizing your skin can be a nightmare.

You can add a tiny bit of your moisturizer into your retinol to dilute it. Or use the sandwich technique, where you apply moisturizer, top it up with retinol, and then layer it up with moisturizer application.  This base layer of moisturizer helps with tolerability.

Don’t Rush It

Dermatologists don’t suggest using more than a pea-sized product two to three times a week. Allow it to sit on your skin before rinsing it off and see how it reacts.

This is to ensure that your skin can develop tolerance against the ingredient. Over time, if your skin doesn’t get irritated, flaky, or reddish, you can gradually increase retinol concentration.

Use Cream Formula

Serums or gels are more concentrated than creams. So, stick to the cream formulations that don’t irritate you right off the bat.

Avoid Drying Ingredients

While using retinol, you should stop using some ingredients that lead to irritation and dry skin. One such ingredient is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid, along with retinol, is notorious for making things worse for sensitive skin.

Stop and Re-prep

If your skin is reactive to retinol, even after the precautions mentioned earlier, then it’s time you should allow it to breathe a little. Stop retinol application and let your skin repair its cells. Restart the routine after some time when things go back to normal.

Retinol is safe-to-use for all skin types. However, it should be used with little adjustments. Start slow and don’t overdo it. Don’t apply too much at once and avoid using harsh chemicals. 

Retinol is the form of vitamin A that provides anti-aging benefits by increasing cell turnover and promoting collagen production. Collagen is responsible for providing elasticity to your skin.

Erin Gilbert, a dermatologist based in New York, says, “Retinol can be used by nearly everyone if it is used correctly.”

But is retinol really good for people with sensitive skin? Let’s find out!

Should People with Sensitive Skin Skip Retinol?

Dermatologists suggest that retinol can be a beneficial addition for most skin types, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

Zenovia Gabriel, MD, also gives her take on this matter:

“People with sensitive skin conditions like rosacea cannot tolerate really strong topicals like retinol.”

Dr. Erin Gilbert adds, “Start low and take it slow.”

So, a one-liner answer is: You can use retinol for sensitive skin, given that you start slow.

How to Use Retinol on Sensitive Skin?

Do a Gentle Cleanse, Always! 

A certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein suggests that start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. It’s better that you find a cleanser infused with skin-soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid for your sensitive skin.

Try a Mild Retinol

For starters, you shouldn’t jump into concentrated retinol. Instead, use a mild version to see whether things go the right way.

Moisturize 

Dehydrated, flaky skin ups the ante for sensitive skin folks. So, applying any form of retinol without moisturizing your skin can be a nightmare.

You can add a tiny bit of your moisturizer into your retinol to dilute it. Or use the sandwich technique, where you apply moisturizer, top it up with retinol, and then layer it up with moisturizer application.  This base layer of moisturizer helps with tolerability.

Don’t Rush It

Dermatologists don’t suggest using more than a pea-sized product two to three times a week. Allow it to sit on your skin before rinsing it off and see how it reacts.

This is to ensure that your skin can develop tolerance against the ingredient. Over time, if your skin doesn’t get irritated, flaky, or reddish, you can gradually increase retinol concentration.

Use Cream Formula

Serums or gels are more concentrated than creams. So, stick to the cream formulations that don’t irritate you right off the bat.

Avoid Drying Ingredients

While using retinol, you should stop using some ingredients that lead to irritation and dry skin. One such ingredient is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid, along with retinol, is notorious for making things worse for sensitive skin.

Stop and Re-prep

If your skin is reactive to retinol, even after the precautions mentioned earlier, then it’s time you should allow it to breathe a little. Stop retinol application and let your skin repair its cells. Restart the routine after some time when things go back to normal.

Retinol is safe-to-use for all skin types. However, it should be used with little adjustments. Start slow and don’t overdo it. Don’t apply too much at once and avoid using harsh chemicals.

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