Why does my skin look worse after using retinol?

Author: Yolanda Murazik  |  Last update: Monday, March 28, 2022

Skin purging happens when new ingredients, like retinol, promote increased cell turnover, which causes clogging and worsening breakouts. This is particularly the case as oil and debris that is trapped deeper underneath the skin comes to the surface.

Does retinol make your skin worse before it gets better?

6: Myth: If you have peeling or redness, you should stop using the retinoid. With retinoids, it's often a “worse-before-better” type of situation. Typical side effects include dryness, tightness, peeling, and redness — especially when first starting out.

How long do retinol uglies last?

In general, retinol is one of the more gentle varieties of retinoids, however, “if you're going to experience shedding it will begin on day three to five of daily night time use, and this usually continues for about five to 10 days depending on your skin type and the percentage of retinol you've used,” adds Ejikeme.

Why does retinol make me look older?

“If the retinol you're using is too strong for your skin causing inflammation, darker skin tones may have a higher risk of discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, from the use of it," she adds. Dr. Icecreamwala recommends starting with a retinol that is 0.3 or 0.5 percent.

What does a retinol purge look like?

Purging is slightly different, appearing on the skin mostly as blackheads or small skin-coloured bumps just under the surface of the skin. But it is also possible for purging to cause similar spots to a breakout, too.

RETINOL Survival Guide - Avoiding the retinol uglies and side effects

How do you know if retinol is working?

Generally, it takes a few weeks to see results, but some OTC options may require months of regular use. Most dermatologists said you'll need to use retinol for a few weeks before you see results, but you should see improvements by 12 weeks with most products.

What is retinol uglies?

Peeling, redness, and irritation are common onset reactions for some people when they first start to use retinol. Some reactions get so bad that the common term used to describe the list of effects has been dubbed the “retinol uglies”. Note from a skincare expert: Many things in life get worse before they get better.

Should you use retinol every night?

Retinol is best applied at night, since it can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. When you do go outside, be sure to use sunscreen to protect your face. Also, keep in mind that you don't need to use retinol on a daily basis for it to be effective at treating acne. Two to three times per week may be enough.

Does retinol cause puffiness?

Retinol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid—all effective ingredients that can improve the look and feel of your complexion. But they can lead to irritation, and when used too close to your delicate eye area, that irritation can lead to bags.

Can retinol make scars worse?

Your first port of call should be retinoids, thanks to their ability to speed up cell turnover and fade superficial scars in the process. That said, deeper, more indented scars are less likely to respond, according to Dr. Mahto, who rates The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% in Emulsion, £8.

How do you stop retinol uglies?

"You can definitely prevent [the retinoid uglies]," he says. "First, make sure it's applied to dry skin. Apply every third night for the first two weeks, then every second night for the next week, and so on so that your skin can get acclimated to it.

How do you treat retinol uglies?

You can use moisturiser before you apply retinoids, and you can even mix the two together. This is likely to lessen side effects, and keep your skin hydrated. Myers believes that “gentle exfoliation is your best friend” and can help to remove some of the dry, flaky skin that may be irritating you.

What does skin purging look like?

Skin purging typically looks like tiny red bumps on the skin that are painful to touch. They are often accompanied by whiteheads or blackheads. It can also cause your skin to become flaky. The flare ups caused by purging have a shorter lifespan than a breakout.

Should I use retinol everyday?

Retinoids work best if you use them daily. Specifically, they should be used at night because some types are deactivated by light and air. It's important to start slowly and allow your skin time to adjust. Using too much too quickly can cause redness, dryness, and irritation.

Does starting retinol cause breakouts?

You might also get more breakouts once you start using retinoids. Keep calm and stick with it. “It's common to see acne get worse before it gets better, as the retinoids can cause a mass 'purge,'” says Robinson. Basically, as skin cell turnover increases, new clogs rise to the top.

Can I put retinol under eyes?

Should you use retinol under your eyes? Yes, definitely. While it is true that retinol – a form of vitamin A – is a powerful ingredient and the skin under your eyes is delicate, there's no reason why you should miss out on the amazing benefits of retinol.

Does retinol remove eye bags?

Retinol is one of the latest skin care ingredients people can't stop talking about. Its anti-aging properties are designed to help reduce dark circles, wrinkles and puffiness around the eyes.

Can retinol make wrinkles worse?

First, the answer is yes, retinol can make wrinkles worse, especially when you first start using it. What is happening is a drying effect, and one can get epidermal sliding from separation from the dermis.

What can you not mix with retinol?

Don't Mix: Retinol with vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids. AHA and BHA acids are exfoliating, which can dry out skin and cause further irritation if your skincare routine already includes retinol. As for benzoyl peroxide and retinol, they cancel each other out.

Do you need to wash retinol off in the morning?

And washing your face is necessary to remove any retinol or AHAs you wore overnight. Bottom line: Not washing your face in the morning is a mistake. A thorough a.m. cleanse ensures your products will work like they're supposed to.

Can I use retinol on my neck?

To help combat aging, Dhingra recommends applying topical retinoids to this area. Retinoids, which are topical vitamin A-based derivatives, may help reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production. If you use retinoids on your face, extend the treatment area to your neck and chest at night.

Should you moisturize after retinol?

A formula with retinol, like the L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Eye Treatment, should be applied after your serums and before moisturizer due to its consistency.

Can retinol cause little bumps?

Retinol and tretinoin, the stronger version that is available only by prescription, are the only creams proved to help make fine lines, wrinkles and age spots look better. These creams often cause bumps, redness and flaking during the first one or two months of use.

How can I make my retinol more effective?

Use Retinol Only at Night and Wear SPF Every Day

"Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product," explains Bowe, who instructs patients to only use retinoids at night and be diligent about applying a daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher during the day.

Is retinol better than hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is best if they're looking to moisturize dry skin, while retinol works better by encouraging better skin by boosting collagen production. They have several benefits that can work in tandem for better results, though patients need to be careful with the exact formulations they use.

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