An anti-ageing superstar, Retinol is widely regarded as one of the most effective topical treatments around. What Retinol strength you should use and how much can vary depending on your skin type and skincare goals though. The higher the concentration of Retinol, the more noticeable the results usually are. You’ll want to start low though to build up your skin’s tolerance and keep irritation to a minimum, especially if you have sensitive or dry skin.
Low Retinol strength
0 - 0.3% concentration
If you have no Retinol experience, or dry and sensitive skin, it’s important to start low and slow. Look for products with low Retinol percentages, from 0.01% to 0.03% Retinol strength, and introduce them into your routine gradually – we recommend applying twice a week for a month before building up to three days, every other night and then nightly. While these percentages may sound too small to make a significant difference to your skin, you will see benefits when used consistently. These can include minimising the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and pores.
Medium Retinol strength
Around 0.5% concentration
If your skin isn’t sensitive, mid-strength Retinols may encourage faster results and a more even skin tone and texture. 0.25 Retinol is a good starting point to try. If you don’t experience any adverse effects, you can continue to climb up to 0.5% and beyond.
High Retinol strength
0.5% - 1% concentration
If you’re looking to tackle stubborn skin concerns such as deep wrinkles, acne scars, hyperpigmentation and dark spots, you may want to increase your dose to a high-strength Retinol. Retinol products with higher percentages between 0.5% to 1% can help to provide faster, more noticeable results that you may not have seen from lower percentages. Not all Retinols are available over the counter though, for higher prescription strengths you’ll need to have your skin analysed by a dermatologist so that they can prescribe the right treatment for you.
Does a higher Retinol strength mean better results?
You can see results from all Retinol strengths. While Retinol can be great for turning back the clock on wrinkles and signs of ageing, you don’t want to rush finding the right strength for you. You should only move onto higher strengths when your skin can fully tolerate it or you may experience irritation, unwanted redness and peeling. Those with dry or sensitive skin will see marked improvements from lower strengths too.
The importance of SPF, even with a lower Retinol strength
Even if you use a low-strength Retinol at night, it’s essential to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen protection the following day. Retinol accelerates cell turnover and the formation of new skin cells, which can be more sensitive to UV light unless protected with a healthy dose of high-factor SPF in the morning, at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. To keep your skin topped up throughout the day, reapply your sunscreen every two hours, too.
Kiehl’s Retinol products
Our award-winning Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum credits its anti-ageing benefits to a daily-strength dose of pure Retinol. It’s also enriched with peptide and ceramides to help strengthen your skin barrier function and encourage your skin’s tolerance of pure Retinol to keep side effects such as redness and peeling to a minimum. After cleansing before bed, apply over the entire face, including the under eye and crow’s feet areas, to help visibly reduce the look of wrinkles, firm skin and refine its texture for a younger-looking complexion.
This fast-acting 0.3% Retinol night serum accelerates skin surface cell renewal with Retinol that penetrates up to 15 surface layers deep into the skin. Experience visible reduction of fine lines in as little as 5 days, and visible improvement in deep wrinkles in 2 weeks. To ensure maximum efficacy, its innovative packaging isolates a high concentration of pure Retinol powder so it can be freshly mixed into the serum upon first use. With continuous use, this night serum with Retinol helps skin look renewed for a visibly smoother, more youthful appearance.
How to use Retinol
• As Retinols help to encourage cell turnover and collagen production and can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, they should form part of your evening skincare routine when sun exposure isn’t an issue.
• Use a gentle cleanser to clean your skin of any dirt and debris before application to improve the efficacy of your Retinol.
• Depending on the concentration of Retinol in your chosen serum or cream, your skin will probably need time to get used to it. Make sure to follow the directions on your specific product. If you have sensitive skin, start with a very low percentage of Retinol.
• Generally, you should start with two applications in the first week and increase the strength and frequency to every other day and then daily as your skin responds. Some discomfort or peeling can be normal but if it is painful or irritating reduce the frequency until your skin adjusts.