What Is Retinol And Why Should You Use It[2022]

What Is Retinol, And Why Should You Use It?

What is Retinol? Many skincare brands promise the world when you buy their products. However, some of these brands might be short-changing you based on their results. Find out which products are worth buying in this article and how to use them for maximum benefits!

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is one of the best skin products on the market, which helps to maintain mature-looking skin and treat skin-related problems like acne, stretchmark, burns, scar, and so on.

what is retinol

A 2019 research indicated that topical retinoids help improve collagen production and cell turnover, effectively removing acne.

Topical retinoid is a special type of retinoid made from vitamin A. that helps to remove dead cells in mature skin. It contains small molecules that penetrate deep into your epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin to your dermis (the middle layer of the skin).

Retinol helps neutralize free radicals in the middle layer of the skin, which aids the production of collagen and elastin that provides a plumping effect on the outer layer.  The plumping effect produced by the retinol helps to reduce the appearance of:

  • Larges pores
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles

Also, retinol is used for scarring and acne in combination with other medication that fights the bacteria and inflammation that causes it. It goes ahead in providing exfoliating effects that improve skin tone and texture.

Retinol reduces pigmentation and uneven skin tone, its also exfoliates the skin.

Retinol makes skin bright and glowy.

Retinol prevents Acne.

Retinol is the strongest OTC in the market compared with other OTC retinoids in the market.

Retinol greatly benefits the skin, but it is not without side effects. So we will look at the benefit of retinol, its pros, and cons, how to use it, and where to purchase retinol.

Different types of retinol Products

Medications that you put on the skin are called ”topical”. There are many topical retinoids products available. They includes;

  • Adapalene (Differin®, Epiduo®): Both are prescribed for acne
  • Alitretinoin (Panretin®): used to treat skin lesions caused by AIDS-related Kaposi’s Sarcoma.
  • Bexarotene (Targretin®): used to treat symptoms of cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma.Panrentin may be used alone or with other medications.
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac®, Avage®):used to treat the skin condition Psoriasis. Tazorac® gel is used to treat plaque psoriasis in up to 20% of the skin area involved. This medicine works by making the skin less red and reducing the number and size of lesions on the skin.
  • Tretinoin (Atralin®, Avita®, Refissa®, Renova®, Retin-A®, Tretin-X®): This medication is used to improve the appearance of the skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles , reducing roughness and improving skin color.
what is retinol

Benefits of Using Retinol.

  1. Skin aging support

Naturally, skin tends to weaken as we grow older. The cell underneath becomes weak, which is shown on the skin, making the skin looks duller.

Also, when the skin grows old, wrinkles and fine lines begin appearing on them, which may make you feel insecure. One of the benefits of retinol is that It helps to speed up the turnover process of the skin cells, which helps to create smoother and brighter skin types. Also, retinol helps to improve collagen production, which plums the skin, making it look younger and fuller.

what is retinol
  1. Used to treat acne

Retinol helps to block inflammation which helps prevent the buildup of cells which is effective in keeping the skin pores clear. 

Also, Retinol helps to treat the swelling and redness that comes with acne.

  1. Protect the skin against sun damage

When the skin is exposed to skin, it might cause certain effects on the skin, such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and thinning of the skin.  So retinol helps to protect and strengthen the skin against the effects on the skin. It simply acts as a sunscreen that offers a layer of coverage on the skin. A study carried out in 2019 states that retinol helps to minimize wrinkles on the skin after 8 weeks of use.

  1. Helps to treat keratosis pilaris

Retinol helps to treat keratosis pilaris by removing the dead cells beneath the skin, which helps to make the skin more hydrated and smooth. Keratosis pilaris arises when the skin is rough and bumpy, but with retinol, it gets smoothens and softens.

  1. Helps to remove dark spots from the skin

Dark spots can develop from sun damage on the skin. Sometimes the dark spots can be scattered around the face, necks, arms, and hands. Tropical retinol has been found to help lighten the dark spots after continual use for an extended period.

  1.  Treat stretch marks

Stretch marks appear on the skin when your skin is stretched due to sudden weight gain, extreme weight loss, pregnancy, and rapid muscle growth. These marks can be red, pink, white, or purple, retinol helps to make the stretch mark looks less noticeable.

Pros and Cons of Retinol


what is retinol
  • Retinol serves as an effective skincare product that treats and improves your skin.
  • It contains vitamin A which is highly beneficial to the skin and, at the same time, healthy.
  • It helps in reducing excess oil production
  • Improves the skin’s laxity
  • It helps ensure a youthful and healthy glow on the skin
  • Stimulates GAGS which improves the skin hydration
  • Improves elastin production
  • Improves pigment marks
  • Improves collagen production
  • Smoothen skin·        


Although retinol is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this doesn’t illustrate that it is without side effects.

Con refers to the side effects of using retinol.  Although retinol is a power-packed vitamin A skin care product, you might experience some irritation and other side effects when using it.

Some of the side effects that may be arises when using retinol are:

  • redness
  • itchiness
  • dryness
  • peeling of the skin

However, these effects become worsen when you use a stronger retinol product or you use more than one product containing retinol which is medically not advised. 

It is stated that less than 10 percent of individuals tend to suffer from worsened side effects after using retinol.

Some of the worst side effects of retinol include:

  • blistering
  • stinging
  • swelling
  • obvious skin discoloration
  • acne flair up
  • eczema flare up
  • exposing your skin to direct sunlight when using retinol

However, these effects may disappear after some weeks of usage. But if it doesn’t get better but seems worse, you should immediately discontinue it and consult a dermatologist.

Another remedy against the side effects of retinol is to protect your skin against direct sunlight and always wear sunscreen after using retinol.

Also another way to prevent irritation from direct sunlight when using retinol is to use it at night.

However, you mustn’t mix products containing retinol together. If the side effects persist and make you uncomfortable, you should immediately consult a dermatologist.

How to Use Retinol

There are two guidelines you should bear in mind when using retinol for the first thing, which are:

  • Start slow and gradual
  • Use a low strength.

It is advised that you try out the retinol on a small area of your skin before using it all over the skin. You should apply it on a small skin area and wait and observe. If the skin isn’t very itchy or reddish, you can include retinol as part of your skincare routine product. Also, a concentration of 0.05 is the best way to start. Suppose you want to use retinol frequently. You can start by applying a pea-sized amount of retinol on your skin twice or thrice weekly.

If you are concerned about sun sensitivity, you can oblige to use retinol at night if you’re concerned about increased sun sensitivity.

If, after two weeks, you don’t have any serious side effects, you can decide to be applying the retinol every night. Also, you can decide to split it once every two nights.

Please note that when retinol is applied less frequently, there is a lower rate of side effects.

Below are the steps you can take when using retinol:

1. Wipe and clean your skin using a gentle cleaner. Avoid scrubbing your skin; instead, pat it to dry.

2. Apply a thin layer of retinol on your face. In doing so, it is important that you are careful that it doesn’t get into your eyes, mouth, or nose.

3. Finish up the process by applying a facial moisturizer, particularly non-comedogenic ones, because they won’t clog your pores.

Can Everybody Use Retinol

Retinol isn’t appropriate for women who are pregnant or nursing. Also, if you have the following skin conditions, you should apply caution when using retinol and report any side effects to your dermatologist. Also, you must consult a dermatologist before using retinol if you have any of the following conditions.

The skin conditions include:

  • Highly sensitive skin
  • Severe skin acne
  • Dry skin
  • Eczema
  • Rosacea

Does Age Matter When You Use Retinol?

It is advised that you use retinol from the age of 30 and above due to the healthy and aging benefits it provides. So you can say that age matters in the use of retinol. Retinol is inappropriate for children and teens.

If you must use retinol early, maybe in your 20s, it is important you consult a dermatologist and get the go-ahead.

Where to Purchase Retinol

You can purchase retinol from clinics, cosmetic shops, and online stores like Amazon, eBay, etc.

Some of the retinol products you can purchase from Amazon include:

  • LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream for Face – Made in the USA, Retinol Cream, Anti-Aging Cream, Retinol Moisturizer for Face and Neck, Wrinkle Cream for Face, Retinol Complex – 1.7oz – Buy on Amazon
  • Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Max Moisturizer, Retinol 24 Max Hydrating Night Face Cream, Fragrance-Free Non-Greasy Feeling 1.7 oz, Includes Olay Whip Travel Size for Dry SkinBuy on Amazon
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer with SPF 30 Sunscreen, Daily Anti-Wrinkle Face & Neck Retinol Cream with Hyaluronic Acid & Retinol, Paraben-Free, 1 fl. OzBuy on Amazon
  • CeraVe Anti-Aging Retinol Serum | Cream Serum for Smoothing Fine Lines and Skin Brightening | With Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Ceramides | 1 OunceBuy on Amazon
  • NATUREWELL Clinical Retinol Advanced Moisture Cream for Face, Body, & Hands, Boosts Skin Firmness, Enhances Skin Tone, No Greasy Residue, Includes Pump, 16 OzBuy on Amazon     

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Can You Use Retinol all the Time

You must apply caution when using retinol, as excessive use of it has been associated with skin cancer.

Can You Combine Retinol with Other Tropical Skin Treatment

Yes, you can combine retinol with other tropical skin treatments, but you must apply caution. You should consult a dermatologist before doing so to prevent any form of severe side effects. Examples of topical skin treatments combined with retinol include hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C.

Can Retinol be used During Pregnancy?

It Is not to be used during pregnancy. Research has shown that when retinol is taken by mouth, it can cause birth defects in the fetus. Also, when applied to the skin, it gets absorbed and penetrates your bloodstream. There have been reports of babies born with different birth defects from mothers on retinol products. It is important to discontinue the use of retinol immediately after you discover you are pregnant. If you must be on retinol products, you must let your doctor know.

Can You Use Retinol When Breastfeeding?

Researchers have stated that the baby’s risk of developing some sort of reaction to retinol when fed by the mother is low. As a lactating mother, you mustn’t rub tropical retinol on the breast so that the baby won’t swallow it. Also, avoid rubbing it on the baby’s skin.

Can Retinol Damage Your Skin?

If you are a frequent user of retinol, there is a high chance that you will sunburn easily, which is dangerous to your skin. This is why it is advised to use retinol at night when you are not exposed to direct sunlight. If you must use retinol during the day, ensure you wear sunscreen to protect your skin. In extreme cases, it can cause cancer. 


Retinol is highly beneficial to the skin. However, it should be used moderately and carefully. It is advised to always inform your doctor before starting a new skincare procedure involving retinol. 

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