Q: Do I need to use a moisturizer when using a retinol product?

A: Yes, you do. Though some retinol formulas may contain moisturizing ingredients, you’ll likely need to use a separate gentle, hydrating product. Retinol is gentler than retinoids, but it can dry out the skin. Here’s more on finding a good moisturizer for your skin type.

Q: I just started using a retinol treatment. How often should I use it?

A: For beginners, it’s best to start using a retinol product every two to three days before bedtime for the first two weeks, according to Prevention. This helps to avoid irritation. Also helpful in preventing irritation is applying a pea-size amount of product. Remember that retinol is unlike a gentle moisturizer, so a little goes a long way!

Q: Why should I use retinol products at night?

A: Retinol formulas slough off the top layer of dead skin cells, which takes away your natural UV protection and thereby increases your sensitivity to the sun. Be sure to apply sunscreen with SPF 30 every day and reapply regularly (usually every two hours if you aren’t sweating or swimming; if you are, apply it more often!).

Q: How long does it take to see results with anti-aging creams?

A: It can take anywhere from several weeks to six months, so it’s important to be patient. In the first few weeks, you should see smoother skin. A reduction in lines can take up to three months. Dramatic changes such as improvements in discoloration and wrinkling can take up to six months, regardless of the product’s strength, according to dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf, M.D., in Allure.

by team
Does your skin need a boost? Does it suffer from fine lines and wrinkles? Retinol formulas can help! Here’s why retinol is an effective age-reducer, leading to more youthful, healthier skin. Plus, learn about the latest and greatest retinol formulas.

  1. Retinol rejuvenates the skin. This vitamin A derivative helps skin produce collagen, a natural component of the dermis that gives skin its youthful, full appearance. According to a 2007 study, published in The Archives of Dermatology, 36 participants age 80 and older applied a formula with 0.4 percent retinol to one arm up to three times a week. After 24 weeks, these participants had dramatic improvements in their skin that were “clearly visible to the naked eye,” reports dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., on her Yahoo! blog, The Skin Guru. Also, “skin biopsies revealed that that arm had more of the building blocks that make skin smooth and resilient than the untreated arm,” Leesa Suzman writes about the study in Good Housekeeping.
  2. Retinol gives skin an overall healthier appearance. Retinol can help reduce discoloration, fine lines, wrinkles and skin texture. Plus, it can improve skin tone and color for generally younger-looking, even skin.
  3. Retinol stimulates cell turnover. Exfoliating is essential for youthful-looking, healthy skin. By removing dead skin cells, new, healthier cells are able to come through. Your complexion also looks smoother and products are able to sink deep into the skin. This way, your skin can effectively absorb potent ingredients. With a pile of dead skin cells on your face, products have a tough time penetrating this top layer and can’t work.
  4. Retinol addresses acne. While retinol works to reduce telltale signs of aging, it also treats “acne-ridden skin,” dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf. M.D., tells Allure. Adult acne is common, affecting 50 percent of women. Dealing with both aging and acenic skin can be particularly distressing. Fortunately, because of retinol’s exfoliating benefits, it can help treat acne. That’s because dead skin cells can clog pores and contribute to acne. By getting rid of dead skin cells, retinol improves and prevents breakouts.
  5. Retinol is less irritating than retinoids. Also a vitamin A derivative, retinoids are only available by prescription from your dermatologist. Though they’re more potent than their over-the-counter counterparts, retinoids are also more irritating to the skin with potential side effects like peeling and redness. Retinol is gentler because it gradually converts to retinoic acid, which is the active ingredient in prescription treatments. Some people simply can’t tolerate retinoids. So retinol is ideal for those individuals along with anyone with sensitive or easily irritated skin and those trying retinoids for the first time. Plus, retinol can pave the way to retinoids, because it helps your skin get used to retinoic acid.

Top retinol formulas

Below you’ll find a range of retinol-rich products that help restore youthful-looking, radiant skin.

  • Afirm 1X. This retinol formula treats photo-damaged skin, reducing the look of lines, brown spots and rough skin. With 0.15 percent retinol, Afirm 1X is the perfect product for beginners and anyone with sensitive skin. It also boasts MICROSPONGE technology, which maximizes efficacy but minimizes the potential for irritation.
  • Afirm 2X. Also featuring the MICROSPONGE system, Afirm 2X contains 0.30 percent retinol for a more potent concentration. It’s great for normal skin.
  • Afirm 3X. Need a bigger helping of retinol that’s still gentle? For more tolerant complexions, Afirm 3X features 0.6 percent retinol to reduce signs of photo-aged skin.
  • SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0. Containing 1 percent retinol, the highest concentration available over the counter, SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 is an advanced formula that reduces the look of lines, wrinkles, age spots and pores. And it treats both blemishes and blotchiness.
  • Topix Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum 10X. Want a smoother, firmer, more radiant-looking complexion? Topix Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum 10X stimulates collagen synthesis, corrects blemishes and reduces lines, wrinkles and pigmentation. Plus, it features green tea to minimize irritation, inflammation and sensitivity to the sun, and hyaluronic acid to add hydration.
  • Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM. With a potent combination of retinol, vitamin C and E, Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM tackles telltale signs of aging and boosts skin tone and texture. Your complexion looks brighter and healthier.
  • SkinMedica Retinol Complex. This advanced complex contains a unique combination of pro-retinoic acids (retinol, retinyl actate and retinyl palmitate) and vitamin E. In addition to accelerating cell turnover and treating aging and sun-damaged skin, SkinMedica Retinol Complex also delivers antioxidant protection.
  • PCA Skin Retinol Renewal Phaze 26. A powerful serum, PCA Skin Retinol Renewal Phaze 26 features a potent blend of retinol and phyto-retinol to stimulate collagen and elastin, even out discoloration, regulate cell turnover and replenish moisture.
  • RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum. This light formula easily sinks into the skin, stimulating its renewal process with pure retinol, magnesium, zinc and copper. Plus, it contains DMAE to tighten and tone the skin.

When you need an effective addition to your skincare routine, retinol is a go-to ingredient, reducing signs of aging and even acne. From boosting collagen building and cell turnover to improving discoloration and skin texture, retinol can lead to a more youthful, healthier complexion. And fortunately, you have tons of top-notch retinol formulas to choose from!

Learn everything you need to know about anti-aging skincare in our Anti-Aging Handbook.


Topix Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum 10X This Retinol based formulation helps achieve more radiant looking skin while delivering the skin enhancing benefits of Green Tea Polyphenols."
Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM This potent retinol serum delivers skin renewing benefits via optimally concentrated microencapsulated retinol for maximum results with minimal irritation. "
PCA Skin Retinol Renewal Phaze 26 This potent corrective serum features RestorAtive Complex, a unique blend of stabilized retinol and phyto-retinol that provides numerous age controlling benefits."
AFIRM 1X AFIRM features a revolutionary skin care technology called the MICROSPONGE system, which protects the delicate retinol molecules and allows AFIRM to have a high concentration of retinol, yet be exceptionally gentle on your skin. Designed to minimize the appearance of aging, fine lines, brown spots, and surface roughness."

"The information provided on is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have a medical question or concern regarding any news item or article on this news magazine, please consult your physician..."