Skip to content

Should You Use Retinol Every Day? The Science Has Spoken

by Ella Goodman 26 Jun 2024

Hey there, skincare aficionado! 

Great news! You've stumbled upon the ultimate guide to understanding the enigma that is retinol. 

Whether you're a seasoned skincare buff or just diving into the world of serums and creams, we've got the scoop you need.

Ever wondered, “Should I use retinol every day?” 

Let’s dive into everything you need to know — and a little bit more! 

Buckle up, it's going to be enlightening!

Why All the Hype About Retinol?

First things first, what even is retinol? 

Well, in the vast galaxy of skincare ingredients, retinol is like the MVP. 

Derived from vitamin A, it’s a powerhouse for:

  • Smoothing fine lines and wrinkles

  • Fading dark spots and hyperpigmentation

  • Boosting collagen production

  • Clearing up acne

Sounds like a miracle potion, right? 

But with great power comes great responsibility. Using it correctly is key to reaping all those juicy benefits without turning your face into an irritated mess.

The Science You Can’t Ignore

Alright, let’s talk science — but don’t yawn yet, I promise it’ll be quick!

Retinol encourages cell turnover, meaning it helps your skin shed its old, dead layers to reveal the fresher, younger-looking skin underneath. 

When your skin cells turnover more quickly, you see fewer wrinkles, diminished dark spots, and all that good stuff.

BUT (and this is a Kardashian-level ‘but’), that cell turnover can also make your skin super sensitive, especially when you first start using retinol. 

And that brings us to the burning question: Should you be slathering that retinol goodness on every single day?

Listen to Your Skin: The Art of Gradual Introduction

If there's one golden rule to skincare it’s this: Listen. To. Your. Skin.

Jumping straight into daily retinol use is like trying to marathon-run before you can walk. 

Here’s how to ease into it like a pro:

  1. Start Slow: Use retinol just once or twice a week to begin with. Your skin needs time to adjust.
  1. Gauge Reaction: Look out for redness, peeling, or irritation. If any of these happen, give your skin a break and moisturize like it's your job.
  1. Increase Gradually: If all goes well, you can gradually increase the frequency to every other day, and eventually, daily use.

Tips for Retinol Newbies

  • Mix Your Retinol: Dilute your retinol with your favorite moisturizer. This helps mitigate potential irritation.

  • Night Owl: Only use retinol at night. It can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

  • SPF is BFF: During the day, slap on that sunscreen. Not negotiable.

FAQs that Everyone Always Asks

What Happens If I Overdo It?

It’s not the apocalypse, but overusing retinol can lead to red, flaky skin that’s crying out for a break. 

If you find your skin's throwing a tantrum, lay off the retinol for a bit and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Can I Use Retinol With Other Products?

Ah, the ultimate skincare juggling act. Mixing and matching products can be trickier than navigating Tinder on a Friday night. 

Here’s how to avoid potential pitfalls:

  • Avoid Layering Actives: Steer clear of using retinol with other potent actives like vitamin C, AHAs, and BHAs right off the bat. Your skin can only handle so much! Once your skin is accustomed to retinol, you can carefully reintroduce these, but always monitor your skin’s reaction.

  • Introduce Hydrators: Pair retinol with soothing and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. These can help counteract any dryness or irritation.

  • The Waiting Game: Sometimes it's best to let retinol play solo. Apply it and wait about 20-30 minutes before adding another product to ensure maximum efficacy and minimize irritation.

Retinol and Your Skin Type: Crafting the Perfect Routine

Our skin is like a unique snowflake (but less cold and more prone to pimples). 

Understanding your specific skin type can help you tailor your own retinol journey.

Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

Retinol can be your BFF. It not only helps in the war against acne by keeping pores from clogging, but also helps to control oil production. 

Start slow to avoid irritation which might aggravate your acne.

  1. Cleanser: Opt for a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser.
  1. Toning: Alcohol-free toner to keep your skin pH balanced.
  1. Retinol Application: Begin with a lower concentration.
  1. Moisturizer: Lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to lock in hydration without clogging pores.

Dry and Sensitive Skin

Gentle is the name of the game here. 

Retinol can make dry skin drier, so extra moisturizing and careful introduction is crucial.

  1. Hydrating Cleanser: Avoid anything that strips your skin.
  1. Hydrating Serum: Think hyaluronic acid or glycerin.
  1. Retinol Application: Follow with a rich, soothing moisturizer.
  1. Barrier Cream: If necessary, add a barrier-repair cream to lock in all the goodness.

Combination Skin

Experience the best of both worlds by balancing your routine to address both oily and dry areas.

  1. Balanced Cleanser: Choose a cleanser that tackles oil but doesn’t dry the skin.
  1. Targeted Serums: Use hydrating serums where needed.
  1. Retinol Application: Apply evenly, monitoring each section of your face.
  1. Zone-Specific Moisturizing: Use different moisturizers for oily (lighter) and dry (richer) areas.

Retinol vs. Retinoids: What’s the Difference?

Retinoid confusion got you feeling like it’s high school chemistry all over again? 

Here’s the tea:


  • Less Potent: Great for beginners.

  • OTC Availability: Easily available over-the-counter in many products.
  • Slower Results: You need a bit of patience, my friend.


  • Prescription Often Needed: Some stronger forms require a dermatologist’s stamp of approval.
  • Faster Results: When you’re ready to level up, this can give you swifter results.

The Beauty of Patience: When Will You See Results?

Waiting for retinol to work its magic can feel like watching paint dry. But hang tight — good things take time. 

On average, it can take about 12 weeks to start seeing visible results from retinol use. 

Why the Wait?

Retinol works by fundamentally changing how your skin cells regenerate. 

This is not an overnight makeover, darling. Stick with it, and your patience will reward you with radiant, youthful skin.

Here’s Where It Gets a Bit Tricky

Retinol doesn't play nice with all ingredients. Here’s your hit list of combos to avoid:

Vitamin C

Picture two divas trying to share the same spotlight. 

They both have skin-brightening superpowers, but put them together, and irritation city ensues. 

Using them simultaneously can amplify skin sensitivity and redness, so it’s best to let them shine separately—one in the AM and one in the PM.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Two heroes clashing in the face of evil. 

This wonder ingredient for acne can deactivate your beloved retinol. Instead of a skincare symphony, you get a big, fat nothing. Alternate their usage or use benzoyl peroxide in the morning and retinol at night.


Exfoliation is great, but too much of a good thing? Not so much. 

Combining these acids with retinol can lead to over-exfoliation, causing redness, peeling, and irritation. If you’re an exfoliant enthusiast, use them on different days or, better yet, consult with a derm.

Is It Normal to See No Results at First?


Think of retinol like that gym membership you reluctantly bought, expecting to transform into a fitness model in a week. You didn’t, right?

That’s because good things take time, and the same goes for retinol. Picture it as a slow-burning candle rather than a fireworks display—consistency is key. Give it a solid 8-12 weeks to work its magic before you judge its performance. 

Patience, young grasshopper.

Spicy Secrets: Retinol Beyond the Basics

Now that you’re armed with the foundational dos and don’ts, how about we dive into some spicy secrets and extra tips you probably haven’t heard?

Microneedling + Retinol: A Dynamic Duo?

Ever heard of a power couple? 

Move over Beyoncé and Jay-Z, here comes microneedling and retinol. 

Microneedling creates teeny-tiny channels in your skin, effectively throwing open the doors for retinol to get in there and do its thing even better. 

But let’s pump the brakes: this isn’t a combo for rookies. If you’re new to skincare, start with retinol alone. Once you’ve become best buds with it, consult a skincare professional before you bring microneedling into the relationship.

Retinol for Your Body?

Why should your face have all the fun? 

Retinol’s benefits don’t stop at your chin. This superstar ingredient can also work its wonders on your body. 

Got uneven texture or pigmentation spots on your hands, neck, or even your back? Retinol to the rescue! 

Start with smaller concentrations and go at it gently, following the same gradual introduction principle you have for your face.

Food for Thought: Diet Matters

Believe it or not, what you eat can impact how well retinol works. 

Yep, your dinner plate can actually amplify this golden ingredient’s benefits. Include Vitamin A-rich foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach in your diet. These boosts support your skin’s natural renewal process, making your topical retinol even more effective. 

Think of it as a two-pronged attack: topical from the outside, nutritional from the inside.

Creating a Retinol Routine That's Uniquely YOU

At the end of the day, your skin is as unique as your fingerprint, and your retinol routine should be too. 

Let’s dig into creating that perfect, one-of-a-kind regimen:

Skin Type Matters

Oily/Acne-Prone: Your skin might well thank you for retinol. It can help reduce oil production and unclog pores. Start slowly to assess tolerance and use oil-free moisturizers to keep things balanced.

Sensitive: Proceed with caution, soldier. Opt for lower concentrations of retinol and make sure you’re partnering it with hydrating and calming ingredients. Moisturizing is your new best friend.

Dry: Dry skin can become very needy when retinol enters the picture. Focus on barrier repair first and foremost. Pair retinol with deeply hydrating serums and creams to avoid turning that dry skin into desert skin.

Lifestyle Considerations

Sun Worshippers: You love basking in the sun, but retinol can make your skin extra susceptible to UV damage. Commit to using a high SPF sunscreen religiously—no ifs, ands, or buts. Wave goodbye to those sunburns.

Minimalists: If you’re a less-is-more kind of person, don’t overcomplicate things. Layering too many products can dilute the impact of retinol or even irritate your skin. A simple, streamlined routine might be your best bet.

Wrapping It All Up

So, should you use retinol every day? 

The golden answer: It depends on you. 

By starting slow, listening to what your skin has to say, and tweaking your routine accordingly, you can capture the essence of retinol without turning your face into a battlefield. 

Remember, your skincare journey is just that — a journey. The key is to trust the process, stay patient, and don’t be afraid to experiment (safely, of course). Trial and error can be your best friend, as long as you’re paying attention to what your skin needs.

And that, folks, wraps up our ultra-deep dive into the world of retinol — complete with tips, tricks, and little-known secrets to set you on the path to glowing skin. 

From your face to your dietary choices, using these insights can elevate your retinol game to legendary status.

Now go forth and glow on!

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