Decoding The Mystery Of Retinol

The potent skincare ingredient that solves issues for many might be the most confusing one. We’re here to simplify retinol for you.

December 17, 2022

I know that retinol is one of the most effective skincare ingredients. But each time I’m tempted to use a product with the popular vitamin A derivative, I take a step back. There is a specific way to use retinol, and I was scared of not doing it right. Yet, the before and afters of this potent ingredient is always on my mind, and it is about time to find some space for it in my meticulously crafted routine. You’ll find that once you get the essence of it, integrating retinol into your skincare is quite simple and not as confusing as it seems. If I decode this mystery, everyone can. Let’s start with the most important question…

What Is Retinol?

Retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A that stimulates collagen production to help reverse the signs of photo-aging. Retinol, with tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, alitretinoin, and bexarotene, is a common retinoid that comes in cream, gel, and liquid forms. Nowadays, many over-the-counter skin products usually contain retinol. Tretinoin is also up there with retinol but it’s usually present in formulas prescribed by dermatologists. This is why you see the words “retinol” and “anti-aging” (although we’re not fans of that antiquated term) together on skincare products. Because of its skin-smoothing, inflammation-reducing, tone-brightening, and pore-clearing properties, retinol can also be used for treating breakouts. For example, one of the strongest acne medications, Roaccutane, is the name for isotretinoin capsules. It is safe to say that retinol is the holy grail of skincare ingredients.

Slow Your Roll

Products containing retinol or other retinoids should be used only in nighttime routines, and in recommended amounts. Retinol can be irritating to the skin if used too frequently, especially if you’re just a beginner. Start by incorporating retinol into your routine every other day or even less, and then if your skin approves, carry on. It’s also wise to begin with a simple patch test. You might experience some changes to your skin around the first few times you put on a retinol-based product (dryness, for example). This is just your skin adapting to the ingredient. This brings us to a very crucial step.

The Importance Of Sunscreen

It’s a must to use sun protection every day while using a retinol-based product, as this ingredient makes most complexions more vulnerable and/or sensitive to sun exposure. Apply the SPF not only on your face, but also on any areas of your skin that are out in the open.

How To Pick The Right Retinol For You?

We should all be mindful of our skin types when starting our respective retinol journeys. And yes, it is a journey that has the potential to be a great one. You might have heard about the many percentages of retinol in products, and that’s one of the first things you should check when you’re browsing for one. If you’re a newbie or have sensitive skin, it would be best to use a product that has the lowest percentage of retinol, like 0,01%. From there you can build up to 1% if needed. If you don’t see how much retinol a product has, just look at the ingredients list. There are many retinol-based products on the market these days. The wrong one can cause more harm than good to your skin, and it is worth spending time researching retinol products. Here are a couple of suggestions from us.

Never Used It Before

I’m New But Cautious

Intermediate Level

I’m The Boss Of Retinol



The Nu Co Skin Filter, $45 This is not a serum or a cream. It’s a supplement from an up-and-coming brand, The Nue Co. They call it “ingestible retinol”. Formulated with beta-carotene (which your body converts to vitamin A), Vitamin C, and zinc. A very interesting, genre-bending product!