the skin edit.

Retinol: How to prevent dry and flaky side effects

Often referred to by cosmetic scientists as ‘the only proven anti-ageing ingredient’, Retinol has many benefits for skin health. It prevents break-outs, exfoliates, smooths fine lines and wrinkles, fades pigmentation spots and maintains a supple and youthful complexion. 

But unfortunately, this wonder-ingredient also causes side effects – where you might experience reddened, peeling, flakiness, and dry skin. Particularly if your skin is sensitive, here’s how to prevent dry and flaky side effects so you can enjoy all the benefits of retinol without the irritation.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT FORMULATION

You want a retinol product that is strong enough to work, mild enough so that it doesn’t cause irritation, and stable enough to retain its active properties. Different types of retinoids found in cosmetics include retinol, retinoldehyde, retinol esters, adapalene, and hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR), to name a few.

What you want from your retinol product is all the amazing anti-ageing and anti-acne benefits of retinol, without the risk of skin sensitisation and irritation.

HPR, or hydroxypinacolone retinoate, is a game changer for over the counter retinol products. It is completely unique in that it binds directly to retinoid receptors in the skin without needing to be broken down to a more biologically active form.

HPR has been demonstrated to be more stable  and cause less skin irritation than retinol and it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and break-out prone skin.

Find it in: Superstar Retinoid Night Oil

MAKE SURE SKIN IS PERFECTLY HYDRATED

Hydrated skin is healthy skin, essentially meaning that its barrier is functioning optimally. If your skin is well moisturised, it can protect itself against unpleasant side effects from new ingredients. At least a week before you start using a retinol product, start your skin on a solid moisturising routine.

Try this: The Hydrating Duo 

APPLY HYALURONIC SERUM BEFORE YOUR NIGHTLY RETINOID

Hyaluronic acid locks moisture into the skin and is soothing. It will help to ease irritation if you layer it under your retinol product at night. Start slowly with a retinol product, your skin needs time to adjust. Start with, a couple of times a week, and build up from there.

Top tip: Delicate eye area skin is extra sensitive, so don’t apply retinoids to upper eyelids or directly under the eye

SWITCH TO A SIMPLER SKINCARE ROUTINE

For the first month of using retinol, assume your skin is classed as ‘sensitive’. This means that you should switch to gentle cleansers, and give up masks, exfoliators and any other highly active products. Choose skincare that is super-nourishing, soothing, and suitable for all skin types – nothing harsh or abrasive.

Play the long game. Retinol use is like any other good habit – do it consistently to see great results. In skincare, people often look for the quick-fix when there really isn’t one! 

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