How To Use Retinol In The Summer
Retinol is one of the best ingredients for your skin, battling the signs of visible aging like no other skincare ingredient can even dream of doing. But it needs to be used consistently for the best results. So, if you’re of the opinion that retinol should be packed away in the summer, we’re here to change that.
Derived from vitamin A and a gentle cousin to retinoic acid (otherwise known as tretinoin), retinol has this clever way of getting under your skin to communicate with important proteins like collagen and elastin. This stimulates their production and kick-starts them to do their jobs more efficiently and more effectively, speeding up cell turnover and helping to improve your skin’s tone and texture. Retinol also helps fade sun spots and boosts the production of blood vessels in the skin to enhance radiance. Gotta love that.
But retinol isn’t just an anti-aging whizz kid. Studies prove that retinol also has anti-inflammatory powers which makes it a very effective anti-acne treatment, keeping pores clean, clear, bacteria-free and therefore stopping your skin from breaking out like a hormonal teenager’s.
So, why is retinol often perceived as something to be wary of in the summer months? Well, it’s a little bit misunderstood. Most people think retinol is unsafe during the daytime because it makes your skin extremely sensitive to the sun. Which is kind of true… but not really.
The hard truth is that retinol itself is not sun sensitizing. We’ll just let that sink in for a minute...
NOT sun sensitizing? So, why the myth? Well, it does thin the very top layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) which is why it’s a bit of a bummer when it comes to reducing your skin’s ability to protect itself from UV radiation. But, to be honest this is why it’s so effective at controlling acne and reducing the signs of aging.
The main reason retinol is usually formulated into night treatments is not because of what it does to your skin in the sun, but the fact that it can become deactivated by sunlight. When a skincare ingredient becomes deactivated it doesn’t particularly harm your skin, per se, it simply becomes less effective. And retinol is such a fabulously effective ingredient, this is exactly the opposite of what you want.
So, how can you make the most of your retinol treatment this summer? Here are five things to bear in mind…
1. Summer Is Actually A Great Time To Start Applying Retinol
Many people experience increased dryness and sensitivities in the winter, which makes summer a much better season to introduce retinol into your routine. Summer equals more humidity and this extra moisture in the air helps keep your skin healthier, more hydrated and better equipped to start getting used to such a powerhouse of a skincare ingredient. Take that non-believers.
2. However, Retinol Can Cause Irritation – Any Time Of The Year
It’s true, retinol can irritate your skin come rain or shine, so you should always do a patch test before introducing it into your routine. Then, once you’ve established your skin can tolerate it, go low and slow.
Start with a moisturizer as these are usually less potent than treatment serums. Our Retinol Moisturizer is great for retinol newbies as it cleverly blends retinol with hyaluronic acid (HA) to hydrate your skin and help fend off flaky or peeling skin, which often occurs with regular use of retinol. If your skin is super sensitive you can even get away with alternating Retinol Moisturizer with our equally-as-awesome Vitamin C Brightening Moisturizer. It'll still have a great impact on the look and feel of your skin.
3. Retinol Serum Is Perfect For Balmy Summer Evenings
Can’t bear heavy night creams when the mercury is rising and your bedroom feels hotter than the surface of the sun? Yeah, we hear you girl. And this is when our Retinol Facial Serum comes to the rescue.
Blended with HA and vitamin E for hydration and extra healing qualities, we call this our go-to-summertime serum because it’s super lightweight and absorbs into your skin in seconds so you can get some valuable beauty sleep without feeling like your face is totally suffocating. Even though it’s perfectly safe to use in the morning, UV light can destabilize retinol and diminish its effectiveness, so you’re always better off using it a night. Apply it two or three times a week (after patch testing first, of course) to freshly cleansed skin, then follow with moisturizer.
4. You MUST Go Heavy On The Sunscreen
The powerful rays of the sun, coupled with retinol’s potent, thin-skinning actions are asking for trouble if you don’t wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. We’re talking dryness, redness, itching, burning and worse. So, make sure you protect your skin carefully and regularly.
Around half a teaspoon of sunscreen is recommended for your face and you should reapply the same amount every two hours if you’re spending all day in the sun. Also, try to spend as much time with your face in the shade and wear a large-brimmed hat and good quality sunnies that block both UVA and UVB radiation for an added safety net.
5. Stop Using Retinol If Your Face Gets Sunburned
As previously mentioned, retinol thins the outermost layer of your skin which increases your chances of sunburn. However, as long as you take care to protect your skin, this should rarely, if ever happen. If you do get caught short, stop applying your retinol products immediately – and in fact any active ingredients including exfoliating acids. Instead, use super gentle cleansing products and soothing moisturizers only for at least a week or until your skin heals.
You see, due diligence and a bit of common sense is all it takes to crush an awesome retinol routine.
All. Year. Round.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.