Despite being one of the most popular skincare ingredients on the market right now, retinol can still feel like a somewhat daunting addition to your skincare routine if you’ve never used it before. Tackling clogged pores, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, dullness and more, the skin-resurfacing ingredient is something of a superhero in skincare terms. And from the flurry of retinol-infused serums and eye creams hitting the shelves each week, it’s clear to see that retinol is definitely having a moment.
But where should you start if you’re totally new to this potent ingredient? As someone who has experienced the unwanted side effects of using a particularly strong retinol in the past—dryness, peeling and irritation—moisturisers would be my personal recommendation for your first foray into retinol skincare. Turns out, the experts agree.
“Unlike serums, moisturisers create a skin barrier that prevents moisture loss, making them ideal for those with dry and dehydrated skin,” explains Osman Bashir Tahir, MBBS, MS, MRCS, MSc. “Retinol moisturisers are also great for all other skin types as the moisturising ingredients they contain help to combat potential dryness and flaking caused by retinol.”
However, Tiina Meder points out that using retinol should come with limitations. “All kinds of retinoids are sensitising and couldn’t be used by people with sensitive skin on a daily basis,” Meder explains. “Daily skincare with products containing retinoids increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays which makes protecting your skin efficiently problematic. The best way to protect your skin from sun when using retinol is to avoid it.”