Skip to content

Is It Safe to Use Retinol During the Day? The REAL Answer

by Ella Goodman 07 Mar 2024

Hey there, skincare junkie! 

So, you've heard about this age-defying, acne-blasting, overall wonder-product that goes by the name of retinol, right? 

Good stuff. 

But before you jump on the ever-so-popular retinol train, take a second to sit back and chill. 

Let’s deep dive into the heated topic of whether it’s really safe to use retinol during the day.

Can you wear retinol in the sun?

First things first, let's kick this off with a look at what this skincare A-lister is actually doing to your skin.

The science behind it is simple. 

Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is popular for its super beneficial properties like increasing cell turnover and boosting collagen production. It's your skin's BFF for reducing wrinkles, fine lines and acne. 

But here's the catch. 

This benefit party gets a tad harsh on your skin – it increases the rate at which skin cells die and shed off, revealing new, fresh, and oh-so-delicate skin underneath. 

And this skin, my friends, doesn't take the sun's rays lightly. It's highly sensitive and vulnerable to the devilish UVA and UVB rays that can burn your skin, age it prematurely, or initiate skin cancer. 

Now imagine these rays squaring off against your newly surfaced skin - pretty ugly picture, right? 

The term for this is photosensitivity, which makes your skin more prone to sunburns even when exposed to a small amount of sunlight than it would be otherwise. It’s akin to sending a newborn puppy into a big-game hunting ground. 

Not fantastic odds, wouldn't you agree? 

"Can you wear retinol in the sun?" might seem like a simple question, but the reasoning behind the answer is deeply invested in the science of skin and sun protection. 

But fret not, we have just the solution to keep you on the safer side.

Sunscreen – it’s not just for those summer beach trips! 

Your rationale for regularly skipping sunscreen during those gray, gloomy winter days? Throw that out the window! Sunscreen should be as essential to your morning prep as brushing your teeth, possibly even more so if you're a retinol enthusiast. 

No clouds, rain, or snow can provide a sufficient shield against the sun's UV rays. They have an eerie skill for penetrating even the thickest, gloomiest of clouds. 

For those audacious souls planning to wear retinol in the daytime, armor your skin with a generous application of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. These sunscreens are designed to protect you against both types of harmful UV radiation – UVA and UVB. 

And no, a dime-sized dollop will not suffice. We're talking 2 milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin, translating to about a shot glass full for your entire body. 

And reapply every two hours religiously, even if you're not swimming or producing a lot of sweat.

Remember, protection against sun damage shouldn't be a lax affair. It's not completely foolproof, but wearing sunscreen meticulously can drastically mitigate the risks of sun exposure when using retinol. 

So while technically you could wear retinol in the sun, it's ill-advised. 

Instead, embrace the power of sunscreen, apply retinol in the evening, and give your skin the best fighting chance against those pesky aging signs

Trust us, your skin will thank you.

When should you NOT use retinol?

Ready for some skincare real talk? 

Well, buckle up, because not every journey to skin nirvana requires the companionship of retinol.

Now, you might be scratching your head, thinking "But isn't retinol the holy-grail, the all-rounder, the batting champion in the field of skincare?" 

Indeed, its prowess as a potent anti-aging, pore-refining, and complexion-improving ingredient is undeniable. But surprisingly, there are times when retinol needs to sit out the skin game. 

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty, shall we?

Remember the cardinal rule of skincare: never anger skin that’s already irritated. 

If your skin is rallying for a fightback – due to sunburn, severe rosacea, windburn, or just general irritation – give retinol a wide berth. 


Well, retinol catalyzes cell regeneration and increases skin turnover, which sounds fabulous under normal circumstances. But the unavoidable downside is that it can also amp up irritation when skin is already in the red zone. 

It's akin to giving an adrenaline shot to an already rattled race horse. So, always play skin-smart and let irritated skin simmer down first.

Now, for all the expecting and breastfeeding beauties out there, retinol is a no-go territory. 

Here's why: retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, a nutrient known for its supreme effects on skin. However, in pregnant or breastfeeding bodies, too much Vitamin A has been linked in some studies to birth complications and defects. 

While concrete conclusions are still in the works, why risk it, right? Safety first, always. Be sure to consult with your dermatologist or physician to discuss safe alternatives. 

Last on the no-retinol list is when your skin decides to mimic a desert landscape or a dry flaky pastry. 

A dry or flaky skin is often a result of skin's moisture retention ability going AWOL. Retinol, being a superhero of ‘exfoliation and cell turnover' hype, might push the dryness to an unbearable graph since it initially tends to dry the skin out further as it sloughs off the dead skin cells. 

Like trying to squeeze water from a parched stone, it won't result in anything synergistic. This doesn't mean retinol and dry skin can't ever make peace. 

Initially, it's wise to give preference to rebuilding your skin's hydration fortress first. Once that’s sorted, you can gradually introduce retinol into your skincare routine.

All said and done, it's important to understand that while retinol might proudly wear the crown in the realm of revered skincare ingredients, like any potent remedy, it also demands awareness and responsibility from its users. 

It's not about shunning retinol completely, but knowing when to respect the signs of your skin, and when to tell retinol, "Not today, bud". 

Read your skin signals, adapt accordingly, and you'd be golden on your journey to skin wellness!

Can I use retinol in my morning routine?

Well, isn't that a curveball of a question? 

However, it is indeed a stellar one. 

In theory, of course, one can indeed use retinol in their morning routine! But as it goes with most things, the answer in the realm of practice is just a smidgen more complicated.

Now recall our chit chat about photosensitivity. Remember how we likened your skin to a diva with her own set of delicate sensitivities? Yup, that's exactly where this tale of retinol twirls into. 

Remember—retinol, being a derivative of Vitamin A, makes your skin more photosensitive, i.e., more susceptible to the effects of sunlight. 

When it's applied and then exposed to the sun, it doesn't just drastically diminish its effectiveness, but also potentially invites free radical formation that's not too skin-friendly, especially considering the fact that retinol's main job is to fight these pesky free radicals. 

However, since we're in the landscape of skincare and not absolutes, let's say you still want to rock your morning ritual with retinol. 

No worries, there's a way! 

Before smearing retinol, make sure to treat your skin with some elemental kindness – give it hydration and love! 

Begin your routine with a gentle hydrating cleanser, and then follow up with a moisturizer that your skin adores. The moisturizer not only provides a cushion of hydration but also helps in preventing any potential dryness caused by retinol use.

After retinol is lovingly massaged into your skin, allow some buffer time for it to fully absorb. 

Now remember this crucial step – even though applying proper sun protection should be non-negotiable every day, with retinol, it becomes indispensable! 

So, as we mentioned earlier, apply a broad-spectrum SPF that shields your skin against both UVA and UVB rays to ensure your skin is protected.

Lastly, and most importantly, mindfulness is the key. Pay heed to what your skin is saying – yes, it can communicate, and it does so through signs of irritation or dryness. 

If you observe flaky patches, excessive dryness, or redness after using retinol in your morning routine, it's your skin's SOS signal. 

In such scenarios, wash off the product gently, and adopt a hydrating and soothing moisturizer that can calm the potential retinol-induced irritability. 

So in a nutshell, yes, Retinol can strut its stuff in the AM parade with grace, but only if you follow the rules of the game - namely sun protection, hydration, and above all, listening to your skin. 

It's about playing it smart, not hard! 

But remember, each night when the sun lowers its curtain, a dance with retinol could be more beneficial, allowing it to work without worrying about those rays. 

Can I use retinol 2 times a day?

Well, you’re brave, we’ll give you that! 

A double dose of retinol, the skincare scene’s rockstar, might seem like the express lane to Fabulousville. 

But, and it’s a big but - hold back those reins, because when it comes to retinol, less is often more.

Retinol, while a powerhouse of a chemical, isn't a fan of overexposure. It loves to work its magic subtly, with a peek-a-boo approach rather than a grand parade. 

The scientific nitty-gritty of it is that retinol promotes rapid cell turnover. While this is great for banishing pigmentation, reducing wrinkles and keeping acne at bay, too much of this good thing can spell disaster for your skin's integrity.

Imagine retinol as your Vitamin A BFF - helping to kickstart a refurbishing process at the cellular level, while you're busy catching some Z's. Our skin goes into restore and repair mode during sleep, thus it’s the ideal time for a retinol rendezvous. 

On the flip side, using retinol during the day, or worse, twice a day, is akin to inviting an eclipse before the sunrise - simply put, it's counterproductive.

Overzealous use of retinol can trigger an unwanted guest list - irritated, dry, and flaky skin, topped with an increased risk of sun sensitivity. Keep in mind, compromised skin is a boulevard of broken dreams, and retinol is no rebel without a cause. 

So, why risk walking on the wild side?

Instead of rushing into a retinol romance, approach it like a well-paced symphony. 

Begin with a low-strength formulation while your skin gets into the groove of things and incrementally increase the dosage as your skin adapts. We're talking one to two times a week, moving towards daily use at night - not twice a day. 

Consider retinol as a pivotal player but not the entire lineup, in your skincare repertoire. Positive results are equated with consistency over time, not dosing up in desperation. 

Mix your retinol routine with other skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, vitamin E for nourishment, and most importantly, a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day for protection.

There's no shortcut to skin nirvana, and certainly no need to max out on retinol like there's no tomorrow. 

Think of it as solving a jigsaw puzzle, finding the perfect synergy between all the pieces, with retinol being just one part. 

As exciting as the prospect of using retinol round the clock might seem - proceed with caution. 

Remember, skincare is about celebrating you! It's not just a quest for gorgeous skin but also a journey towards self-love.

So, twice-daily retinol squad? You might want to stand down. 

Stick to the playbook of nocturnal retinol use, champion gradual introduction, meticulous layering, and persistent protection. Your skin's thank you note is sure to follow!

Embrace it, and remember - you’re not just camouflaging flaws, but curating the living artwork that is your skin. 

Happy retinol-ing!

Prev Post
Next Post
Someone recently bought a
[time] ago, from [location]

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Recently Viewed

Edit Option
Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items