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Retinol is an incredibly well-known skincare ingredient and for good reason. There are many retinol benefits this ingredient can help bring to your complexion, whether you’re concerned with fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes, or uneven skin tone. However, with all the talk of possible side effects, retinol can often seem intimidating for people who are new to the skincare world. There’s no need for this to be the case, and we’re here to show you how to start using retinol, no matter your skin type.

If you’re wondering ‘what does retinol do for your skin?’, this guide is for you. We’ll walk through how retinol works and how to use hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid to help minimise the risk of any side effects. We’ll also detail a simple retinol skincare routine, alongside some application advice.

What is retinol?

Understanding the wide variety of retinol benefits for skin first requires knowledge on exactly what this powerful skincare ingredient is. Put simply, retinol is a name for a certain kind of vitamin A derivative that is used as a key ingredient in facial serums, facial creams and eye creams.

Retinol has historically been known primarily as an anti-ageing skincare ingredient, but using this ingredient can also have benefits for oily skin prone to acne. This highly efficacious ingredient can help minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by re-plumping the skin. Retinol also targets uneven pigmentation and acne scars and minimises the occurrence of blemishes.

What does retinol do?

So, how does retinol work to deliver these powerful benefits to your complexion? This ingredient works deep within the skin to create several different changes, all of which can help your complexion appear more radiant, youthful and even toned. Here are the key effects retinol has within your skin:

  • Helping regulate excess sebum (skin oil) production

  • Speeding up skin cell turnover – helping avoid blemishes and dullness

  • Stimulating collagen production – helping re-plump the skin from the inside out

As well as these impressive benefits, it’s also important to note that retinol has some potential side effects. These are more likely to show up while your skin is adjusting to retinol – a process commonly called ‘retinisation’. During this adjustment phase redness, dryness and flaking skin are all possibilities. However, these issues are usually temporary and risk can be minimised by using a well-formulated retinol serum or cream. Following optimal application advice also helps minimise the risk of any side effects.


Who can use retinol?

With the right formula and application technique, people with any skin type can use retinol. If you have dry skin, we recommend taking care to use hydrating products alongside your retinol serum or cream, to help mitigate any risk of dryness. If you have sensitive skin, you might think that retinol isn’t for you, but that doesn’t need to be the case. Simply make sure you choose a retinol product formulated with comforting ingredients and introduce it into your skincare routine gradually over time. These measures will help minimise the chances of unwanted side effects.

Your CeraVe retinol skincare routine

In light of the impressive properties of retinol, let’s learn how to introduce this ingredient into your daily and nightly skincare routine. Follow these tips and tricks on how to hydrate your skin to get the most out of your retinol serum benefits.

Use a hydrating cleanser

When you’re using retinol, opting for a facial cleanser that hydrates your skin rather than overly stripping it is essential. Our CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is enriched with three essential ceramides to help support the skin’s natural protective barrier. This formula uses MVE technology to provide 24 hour hydration.

Apply a hydrating serum

After cleansing in the morning we recommend following up with a facial serum formulated with hyaluronic acid to intensely hydrate your skin by attracting water to its surface. Our CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum does just that, with the added benefit of vitamin B5 to help maintain skin moisture levels.

Retinol serum

Next, it’s time for the main event. In the evening, apply a small amount of our CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum over your entire face and neck. Just a pea-sized amount is enough to achieve optimal retinol serum benefits. This serum is formulated with encapsulated retinol to help minimise the chance of sensitivity, as well as antioxidant chicory root.

If you’re new to retinol, start by applying this serum once or twice a week for at least a fortnight. If you’re not seeing any side effects, gradually increase the frequency with the aim of working towards nightly application.


Facial moisturiser with sun protection

Retinol can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so in the morning its essential to use a facial moisturiser with sun protection after your facial serum. Our CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15 contains ceramides to support your skin and SPF to protect it from UV radiation.

Night cream

At night, follow up your retinol serum with a nourishing night cream to comfort and further hydrate your skin. 

Our CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream is formulated with acetyl tetrapeptide-9 and niacinamide, both comforting ingredients that will help your skin as it adjusts to retinol.



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