Retinols are said to be the holy grail ingredient. It has actually proved to reverse skin ageing. Using retinol and SPF on a daily basis can improve your skin better than any other product. It is a vitamin A that reduces fine lines, wrinkles and speeds up skin turnover. It also helps reduce years of skin damage caused by environmental factors. But products with this ingredient are very strong and beginners must take care before using them. Retinols can dry out your skin and make it photosensitive. 

To know more about retinol and its uses, TC46 connected with Dr Kiran Godse, Dermatology & Cosmetology, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai. Here he states 8 points to remember when using a retinol product and also gives us a few product recommendations. 

1. Retinol regulates sebum production and prevents acne 

Retinol is a type of retinoid which is a class of vitamin A derivatives used for various skin conditions, particularly famous for acne. They help to regulate sebum production and the process of Keratinocyte differentiation which helps to prevent and treat acne.

2. Retinol is milder and beginner-friendly

Retinols come in varying strengths, and they are a form commonly found in OTC anti-ageing products. Retinols are a milder form of retinoids and are beginner-friendly. Other forms of retinoids include retinal (retinaldehyde), granactive retinoid, and tretinoin (prescription strength) which are stronger and potent as compared to retinol.

3. Retinol works best as an acne treatment

Retinols can be used for those who seek anti-ageing benefits. There is no particular age for starting retinol, we generally recommend it to those above 25 years. However, if one seeks acne treatment, potent forms of retinoids like Adapalene or Tretinoin are preferred which can be started by anyone with acne, under the guidance of a dermatologist.

4. Apply retinol during your PM routine

Retinoids should always be applied at night. Usually, start with a lesser concentration and then increase the concentration as the skin gets used to it. Always use the retinoids as a thin even layer all over the face (never as a spot treatment) and start by using it twice a week and slowly increasing it to thrice weekly and then every night. In the beginning, one can use it for a few hours, rinse off and follow it up with a moisturizer. Or one can use them over a layer of moisturizer to prevent irritation.

5. Ingredients that work best when paired with retinol 

Retinoids can be paired with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and azelaic acid. Retinoids like adapalene can be paired with benzoyl peroxide for better action on acne. However, they should never be used along with exfoliating acids like AHA or BHA and Vitamin C.

6. Do’s and don’ts of using retinol


  • Always use it under the guidance of a dermatologist 
  • Start using them on a healthy skin barrier with no redness or irritation
  • Choose the right form of retinoid for your skin concern
  • Always pair it with a soothing fragrance-free moisturizer to combat dryness or any potential irritation 
  • Use the right quantity of product the right way to optimize the benefits
  • Always use sunscreen in the morning


  • Never use it along with exfoliating acids, vitamin C, or physical scrubs
  • Never increase the concentration or quantity without consulting a dermatologist
  • Avoid going for masks, peels, or clean-ups while on retinoids. Consult your dermatologist before doing so

7. Pregnant women must not use retinol

Retinol is safe to use by all skin types and all age groups. It should be avoided by pregnant and lactating women. Retinol or retinoids take at least 8-12 weeks to show results. There is sometimes a phase after beginning retinoids when the skin gets worse before it gets better, which is only temporary (commonly known as purging).

8. Dermatologist recommendations for retinol

It is best to use retinol products that have been prescribed by your dermatologist. But if you are looking for products that are readily available on the market, here are a few. 

  1. Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0 Anti-Age Serum
  2. Avene Triacneal Expert Emulsion
  3. Sesderma Retiage anti-ageing serum 
  4. Olay’s Retinol24 Night Serum and  Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Cream

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