Have you experienced this? Retinol suddenly becomes too irritating to your skin to continue use? Don’t quit Retinol, learn how to apply retinol without irritation.
MY STORY: I start using retinol and within a few days, my skin is SO smooth and refined. My dermatologist said to use it only every other day, the directions say spread a pea-sized amount into a thin layer all over the face. But, the results are so good, I assume myself special, directions surely don’t apply to ME. So I use more. Because if a little is good, more will be better, right?
So I dab on extra, thinking with a bit more retinol, soon I won’t even need to wear any foundation! I’m convinced I’ll have to explain suddenly looking so young, so fresh, so dewy. And then… OUCH! all kinds of irritation, tightness, redness, and peeling. What happened?
Google and the dermatologist tell me that I have, like so many before me, inadvertently given myself an at-home chemical peel burn from too much Retinol. Nothing helps. I had to take a couple weeks off of retinol for my face to repair. Boo. Yet, somehow, I never learn and repeat this pattern whenever I am on prescription retinol.
Many who try retinol have fallen into the trap of thinking that we’re special and the directions do not apply to us, thereby more is more. You know what? You ARE special. But not about Retinol. Everybody is the same to Retinol.
WHY RETINOL IRRITATION HAPPENS AND HOW TO FIX IT
Retinol is a powerful cell-turnover agent that demands your respect for how it works: if skin cell-generation occurs too rapidly, young, fresh skin is revealed, which is why you look so ridiculously young, it is for all intents and purposes, baby skin. But it’s also about as sensitive as baby skin and it’s not ready to be exposed to excess retinol, which is why your lovely skin suddenly becomes irritated and burns when more retinol is applied.
And don’t feel so superior just yet you rule-followers who adhered to the directions and put on the exact prescribed amount, you aren’t immune. Not only is “more” not more, the prescribed pea-sized dosage packs a peely-faced, red, itchy wallop too. Skin builds a small retinol tolerance after a few weeks, and cell-turnover happens at a slower rate. The same dosage of product suddenly causes surface irritation. Thin-skinned areas have problems first, but these are also the areas that wrinkle first, so it’s tempting to over-treat them with retinol. So how does one get all the retinol goodness without the irritation and burning? BUFFERING.
LAW OF THE BEAUTY UNIVERSE: Pure Retinol must be buffered or else you will have to take constant breaks due to irritation. Or better yet, avoid irritation altogether by using a pre-buffered retinol product like Lordsbury Retinol+C Moisturizer.
TOP TIPS TO BUFFER YOUR RETINOL
1. ALWAYS APPLY MOISTURIZER AND PLENTY OF IT
Some prescription retinol such as Renova or Atralin has an emollient base that tricks you into thinking you don’t need a secondary moisturizer, but you do.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO BUFFER RETINOL
- If your skin is already irritated or very sensitive, apply moisturizer first, then retinol.
- If your skin is normal, mix your retinol directly into your moisturizer and apply it together.
- If you’ve been on retinol for more than one month, apply retinol first, then moisturizer on top.
WHAT MOISTURIZER SHOULD I USE TO BUFFER MY RETINOL?
Your moisturizer may be unknowingly contributing to your irritation. What moisturizer should you use to buffer? I prefer as natural and simple as possible because there’s already plenty going on with just the retinol. Does your moisturizer contain brighteners, Vitamin C or exfoliating ingredients? Stick with gentle ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Jojoba, and Sunflower Oil which are all very soothing and nourishing to the skin. The problem is due to the consistency of these natural moisturizing agents, you look a sticky and oily mess after a direct application and makeup application is out of the question.
A product that has saved me a lot of grief in the tricky retinol and moisturizer buffering department is Lordsbury Retinol+C Moisturizer. It contains a prescription level 2.5% Pure Retinol, 20% Vitamin C and has a host of hydrating natural moisturizers all in one product, so it is gentle enough to use twice a day without every getting irritated.
Even if I over-apply, I haven’t gotten irritated even ONCE in months of use, which means I never miss a dose or have to take time off from Retinol. If you don’t want to worry about combining retinol and moisturizer or just don’t want the hassle of multiple products, Lordsbury Retinol+C Moisturizer is a no-fail, highly effective and emollient one-stop shop that contains all the hydrating nourishing buffering moisturizers including Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Jojoba, Sunflower Oil, Vitamin E, plus soothing Green Tea and the moisture powerhouse Hyaluronic Acid.
2. RE-EVALUATE OTHER SKINCARE PRODUCTS
Do you use Vitamin C Serum, AHA, glycolic, skin lighteners, peels, or scrubs? Even harsh washcloths and sponges or sonic facial brushes, these are all potentially too harsh now for your delicate retinol-treated skin. Retinol is already doing all the peeling and exfoliating for you, you just have to keep your skin clean and moisturized, nothing more.
Vitamin C Serum during the day and Retinol at night is touted as the standard for skin renewal, this is true, but this requires even more intensive buffering. Master retinol use first before adding in Vitamin C Serum.
3. SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
Yeah, it is exciting to see Retinol’s rapid skin renewal, but less is actually more with retinol because if you have to take two weeks off to heal from overuse, you lost more than you gained in zealous overuse. Even if you buffer, don’t use retinol more than once a day. The exception to this would be a buffered retinol product, such as Lordsbury Retinol+C Moisturizer, that can be used twice a day due to it’s pre-buffered highly moisturizing ingredients.
When it doubt, apply as little Retinol as you can, and apply more moisturizer than you think you may need.
Don’t give up retinol due to irritation! Retinol is a powerful resource for removing wrinkles, brown spots, acne scars, discoloration, and refining overall skin tone. It is exciting to see changes in your skin! But buffering retinol is MANDATORY to be able to use it consistently without irritation. While buffering your prescription retinol with moisturizers or hydrating serums can make a world of difference in tolerating your retinol program, an easy no-hassle alternative is Lordsbury Retinol+C Moisturizer. It contains 2.5% Pure Retinol, which is the lowest level on the prescription dosage scale, but Lordsbury can be used twice a day, it contains 20% Vitamin C and it comes pre-buffered with skin moisturizing, hydrating, youthifying nourishing ingredients that take the guessing work out of buffering your retinol. This way, you never miss a dose or have irritated skin.
Find Lordsbury Retinol+C moisturizer at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M3PSEQX/
Style Chicks received compensation for our time and effort as Brand Ambassadors of Lordsbury. However, our experience with the product and the opinions expressed in this review are 100% ours.