Allergic to retinol?
Originally intended to treat acne, retinoids (an umbrella term for both OTC retinol and prescription-grade Retin A, among others) have been studied for the past 40 years, and are now considered the gold standard anti-aging ingredient for reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots.
However many people who start on retinoids lament within a week that their face is peeling and looks sunburnt.
Are they allergic or intolerant to the retinoid? Truth is, the redness and peeling are both signs that the retinoid is working—it’s actually sloughing off old skin to reveal fresh new skin underneath.
Patience is a virtue, though, when it comes to seeing visible results. Says our go-to Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett: “Three months is generally how long it takes for prescribed medication to show to full results. But too often men and women expect immediate results.”
But we get it, you don’t want to suffer too long to look good. So here are three tips to using retinoids correctly:
1. Only at night. Retinoids can make your skin sensitive to UV rays so it’s best used before you go to sleep. Be sure your face is washed and completely dry before applying a pea-sized dab on your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Gently massage into the skin, and DO NOT apply to your eyelids or lips. Always apply sunscreen in the morning when you’re using a retinoid in your skincare regime.
2. Take a week off. If your face is very red and flaky, give your skin a break. Then resume usage two times a week at night, gradually building up to using it on a daily basis. You’ll get the benefits without the discomfort.
3. Stop using other actives. When using a retinoid, don’t use anti-aging and acne products containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide, unless otherwise directed by your dermatologist. “Some products can breakdown the active components in others making then ineffective,” warns Kellett.