is retinol good for aging skin
What does retinol do, and is it good for aging skin? Learn about 8 benefits of retinol and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that aids in cellular turnover, which is the process by which the body sheds skin cells and regenerates new skin cells. Because of this, retinol can be particularly effective in helping the skin heal itself from trauma and the effects of aging, such as fine lines and sunspots. 

However, the amount of retinol you should use depends on your skin type, skin concerns, and your skin’s tolerance. After consulting your dermatologist, you can experiment with different strengths and frequency of use.

8 benefits of retinol for the skin

Incorporating retinol into your daily skincare routine can have the following benefits:

  1. Lightens dull skin
  2. Controls oily skin
  3. Prevents acne
  4. Tightens pores
  5. Combats sun damage
  6. Reduces hyperpigmentation
  7. Can manage skin conditions such as xeroderma pigmentosum
  8. Prepares your skin for more advanced skin treatments, such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing treatments

What are the side effects of using retinol?

Although research has shown that retinol can be an effective anti-aging ingredient, there is no guarantee that what you are using in an over-the-counter product is as potent or effective as the prescription strength retinol used in studies. Potential side effects of using retinol may include:

  • Irritation
  • Dryness and flaking
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Stinging or burning
  • Increased sun sensitivity, which is why use should be restricted to nighttime

Because retinol may increase cellular turnover, it can cause skin thinning with prolonged use. Clinical studies conducted on rats also suggest that retinol might accelerate the growth of tumor cells. And it should be avoided if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to incorporate retinol into your skincare regimen

As with any new skincare product or ingredient you add to your routine, it’s important to be patient and allow your skin some time to adjust. It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to several months to see results. Tips for easing into retinol use include the following: 

  • After cleansing your skin, apply a thin layer to your face, neck, and chest area. 
  • Since you may initially experience some dryness, redness, and peeling, consider initially applying only 1-2 times a week and slowly increasing to nightly use as your skin adapts.
  • To combat dryness, apply a moisturizer after the retinol.
  • As retinol products make skin more sensitive to UV exposure, always apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Make sure that any retinol products you apply during the day are suitable for daytime use.
  • While you should use retinol consistently, don’t overdo them or overload your skin with other ingredients, as this can irritate your skin.


Bar soap and water are fine for cleansing the face if you have sensitive or dry skin. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2021
Armitage H. Does Retinol Deserve the Hype? Stanford Medicine.