This post may contain affiliate links; see site footer for more details.
Alright alright alriiiiiiiight we gon’ learn today! Pour another cuppa coffee and let’s tame the retinol beast together, shall we? In case you’ve been under a rock – your girl here loveloveloves skincare. (All CUR skincare posts are here!)
Granted, that wasn’t always necessarily the case.
It was’t that I didn’t like skincare – moreso that I had no clue what TF I was doing, what ingredients did what, which products I needed when – it was a hot mess express where I product-prescribed at the drugstore based on a quick glance in the mirror and whatever Seventeen magazine said was best. Oh, the days. Ha!
Now, I can confidently say that I am SO MUCH MORE CONFIDENT with my skincare. Between the products I’m using to the order they’re being using IN, I’ve got a solid grip on the situation.
One thing I did NOT have a grip on until recently: retinol.
Enter, today’s post.
Luckily, I’ve learned *a lot* about retinol in the past few weeks slash months, so I’ve conjured up a retinol Bible of sorts here with my friends at Colleen Rothschild (because Colleen is THE QUEEN of retinol in my eyes) to share the who/what/when/where/why of this super powerful ingredient and product. It’s not for everyone (yet), but it does work something fierce for those who choose to adopt it into the weekly regimen.
Ready for a caffeine refill yet? 😉 Let’s begin.
This is a humdinger of a post, so bear with me! It’s organized in true who/what/when/where/why/how fashion.
Retinol is POTENT. Some are prescription-strength, they’re that stinkin’ strong (think: Retin-A). So let’s break it down as best possible to figure out what it is, which retinol products I use specifically, when to use it, HOW to use it, as well as some important retinol keys to remember.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A! It’s this super-reactive molecule that can be a real gamechanger in your skincare routine, since it does #AllTheThings. Retinol effectively reverses sun damage and discoloration, as well as the effects of aging (read: fine lines and wrinkles, AKA the worst). It’s all about increasing your skin cell turnover – especially as that process naturally begins to slow down as we age – to give you an ongoing healthy complexion, youthful glow, and overall even skin tone.
Some retinol products are prescription-only (read: Retin-A), while other formulas can be picked up over-the-counter. Upping your cell renewal process is just SO good + important for fighting so many of the issues we face day-to-day with our skin, from minimizing pore problems (because you’re essentially flushing them out faster) to lessening wrinkles (because you’re increasing collagen production) to lightening dark spots (because you’re avoiding melanin production below the surface).
Which Retinol products I use:
When I was considering adding retinol into my nighttime skincare routine, I was researching out the wazoo. But since I had already become a fan of Colleen Rothschild products, it had been on my list since pre-pregnancy days to try out her retinol treatments once I was no longer nursing and could give it a safe go.
(Important PSA before carrying on – Colleen so graciously made a discount code exclusive to the CURowd, so drop ERICA20 at checkout for 20% off anything + everything! #BlessUp)
So. As I was saying.
I’ve been using Colleen’s retinol products about twice a week since being done pumping, and I’m so stoked to share them all with you today. I typically alternate between using the night oil and the treatment complex as the “main” retinol treatment; if using the treatment complex, I put the renewal cream on afterwards. The supreme eye serum I pair with both!
Retinol Supreme Night Oil – I know, I know…my fellow oily girls are sitting there thinking, “E, I have oily skin – the last thing I want to put on my face is more oil?!?” I feel you – but hear me out. Oftentimes, when your skin is producing what seems like excess oil, it’s because you’re actually dehydrated on the inside, and it’s overcompensating via oil production to the outside. Do yourself a favor and drink a glass of water right now, and don’t. stop. moisturizing!
The Supreme Night Oil is awesome because it’s equal parts regenerative and hydrating. You’re getting the highest concentration of stabilized retinol, as well as a lotta Vitamin C to reverse free radical + toxin damages, AND you’re preventing irration/flaking while replenishing moisture through nine plant-based oils inside.
Retinol Supreme Eye Serum – This serum is actually liquid gold, I’m convinced. It feels so insanely good on your skin – I don’t think I can even do it proper justice in a description! Obviously your eyes show signs of aging – enter, crow’s feet. Ain’t nobody got time. This serum has a blend of retinol, Vitamin C, and Saloprine 8, as well as Cityguard™ and Level E3.
The retinol x Vitamin C work to brighten + soften the look of wrinkles around the eye area.
Saloprine 8 works to lock in moisture; it’s been clinically proven to increase moisture levels a casual 6000% (yup, that’s six thousand percent) after 28 days of continued use.
Cityguard™ works to lift + firm the eye area, potentially reducing puffiness because of that, too.
And Colleen’s signature Level E3 formulation is present, too. Total winning combo in a bottle!
Retinol Treatment Complex – This is the bread n’ butter cornerstone retinol treatment in my eyes. This tiny tube packs a powerful punch – and in typical Colleen Rothschild fashion, a little bit goes a loooooong way. It targets five primary causes of visible aging, minimizing the look of wrinkles, clearing pores, and brightening dull skin to leave you looking + feeling younger and healthier when you look in the mirror. It’s all in that skin cell turnover rate, baby!
Sheer Renewal Cream – This stuff is wild – it’s really hydrating, but it’s oil-free, weightless, AND promotes new cell turnover, which is unique when it comes to moisturizers! Most moisturizers will typically just work to hydrate, not also be tied to cell renewal. So that’s fun! It’s a really breathable formula, too, unlike some nighttime creams. First I apply the Treatment Complex, then, layer the Sheer Renewal Cream on top!
WHEN + HOW to use Retinol:
Retinol is ONLY for nighttime! Because of how reactive of a molecule it is, it breaks down with sun exposure. So before bed only! Apply it right before bedtime to work its magic overnight. You should add it to your routine when you’re concerned about the effects of sun exposure and/or aging coming to the surface of your skin, since it combats both! (Typically folks recommend around age 40 since that’s when many things may start surfacing visibly – I like to do things preventatively, though, since it’s easier to prevent from the first place than it is to undo damage that’s been done!) And start with use twice a week or so to see how your skin reacts. Every face is diffferent! If you skin tolerates it well, try upping to three times if you’d like. When I say how it “tolerates” it, I’m referring to the mild irritation slash peeling that typically happens when you first add retinol into your skincare routine, since there is an adjustment period! Personally, I stick with twice a week.
In terms of HOW to use retinol, after washing your face + applying your eye cream, apply a pea-sized amount over your face. TIP: Make sure your skin is DRY before applying! Applying anything to damp skin (think: lotions, moisturizers, any other skincare product) helps it be more deeply absorbed, but that would /could be a bit too intense with retinol products. 😉 Apply moisturizer after the retinol, and make sure you’re using SPF the next morning!
To remember about Retinol:
- Retinol takes TIME. Dermatologists recommend 12 weeks before really judging results. Y’all, that’s three months. If you’re anything like me, you probably have the patience of a pea and reaaaaaally can’t stand waiting around that long for magic to happen. But trust me – it’s worth the wait.
- Do not use while pregnant!!!! (Or breastfeeding) – I waited until after I ran out of milk before adding into my own routine.
- Although you should be doing this anyways, make sure you ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use an SPF product during the daytime when retinol is in your nighttime regimen.
- Moisturize after applying retinol! Never ever ever (ever) skip that step. Our skin can become dehydrated during the day as it comes up against free radicals and other environmental toxins – it’s important to refill the cup, so to speak, while we sleep!
- Skip the Clarisonic on nights you’re using retinol. Over exfoliation is a BAD combo and an invitation for unwanted, extra irritation on retinol night!
- If you start experiencing some light peeling or mild redness, this is NORMAL – but it doesn’t mean your skin is being exfoliated. Retinol is different than a chemical exfoliant! It’s actually a reaction to the product; if you experience this, try cutting back a day until it dies down. Your skin needs to re-adjust once retinol is in your regimen! The key: don’t quit. This irritation really is a normal part of the process, so while it may be a pain in the butt while it’s happening – you body will adjust to the ingredients and adapt accordingly. The science behind it that I found in my research (#nerd) lies in “retinoid receptors,” which are little proteins that your skin naturally has that transport retinoids into skin cells, which then triggers collagen production. And in that process, retinol becomes a stronger form of Retinoic acid, causing irritation.
Now I know I’ve shared Colleen Rothschild products before, but I wanna give another shoutout to some of my favorites in case you’re in the market for any!
Radiant Cleansing Balm – This is what I lovelovelove using for double cleansing – it’s truly fabulous. Apply directly on top of makeup, then wipe off with a damp warm cloth via gentle circular motions before going in for cleanse numero dos. REALLY helps get your deepest, best clean! (Here is a mini version for a third of the price if ya wanna test it out before investing in full size!)
Clarifying Detox Mask – One of my fave clay masks – a true little luxury in life! It’s got activiated charcoal, French Kaolin clay, Vitamin C, Willowherb, and micronized silver inside to detox, clean, brighten, + soothe.
Matcha Tea Treatment Toner – You might remember this guy from this post on clearing your skin of dullness/roughness/dryness/flakiness, even in the middle of winter! This stuff detoxifies, minimizes pore appearance, absorbs excess oil, AND works as an antiseptic to fight breakout-inducing bacteria, with Matcha Tea, Kombucha Black Tea, and Japanese Green Tea inside. #BlessUp.
Do you incorporate retinol into your nighttime skincare routine? Have you ever tried Colleen Rothschild retinol products before?
(Or any of Colleen’s products for that matter??) Either way, remember to use code ERICA20 at checkout for a nice little discount on whatever you’re interested in trying out – TREAT YO’SELF. 😉
If you have any Q’s at all or just wanna chat all things SKIN, drop a comment below!
*Thanks to Colleen Rothschild, a brand I lovelovelove, for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions + thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank YOU for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!