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How to Use Retinol the Right Way

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

For many years, retinol has been considered the gold standard of anti-aging skincare ingredients. Most dermatologists, estheticians, and beauty experts will agree. Why? It has the benefit of reducing the appearance of wrinkles and stimulating the production of collagen, all while helping to increase the speed of cell turnover, reduce the appearance of discoloration and acne, and smooth out the look of fine lines.

Retinol can bring a range of impressive benefits to your skincare routine. Whether you are new to retinol or have used it in the past, learning how to apply retinol the right way may be easier than you might think.


Retinol is mostly famed for its ability to tackle all aspects of visible aging and acne at the same time. A variety of different retinoids can be used, including adapalene, retinyl palmitate, retinoic acid, and more. It’s a commonly found fat-soluble vitamin A derivative naturally found in sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, and other foods.

For skincare use, retinol can be found in a variety of over-the-counter products including our very own IMAGE MD restoring retinol booster. While prescription retinoids are available, you’ll find a range of anti-aging benefits in our collection of retinol-based skincare serums and creams.

Some of the biggest and most notable benefits of using retinol include:

  • Reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation

  • Reducing the appearance of age spots and sun spots

  • Reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines

  • Minimizing the appearance of acne breakouts

  • Dramatically improving the appearance of collagen-deprived skin

  • Improving the balance of your complexion and tone


As an anti-aging product, retinol can be added to your skincare routine at any age. However it seems to offer the most preventative benefits to individuals in their 20s. At this age, collagen production and skin restoration abilities are reduced by 1% annually.


Retinol can be used on a daily basis. However, many experts recommend using it every two to three days to start. When first starting out with retinol use, it’s important to ease into it slowly as retinol can be somewhat intense and potentially very drying for your skin. This is especially true for skin that is dry, sensitive, or prone to acne breakouts.

Once the skin has acclimated to retinol, you can try using it more frequently. Everyone should apply a rich, heavily moisturizing cream after using retinol, but depending on your level of dryness, you might even want to consider applying a hydrating serum before retinol to help ease into it. If skin becomes dry or irritated, take a break for a day or two.


Patience is key. While this ingredient is highly touted as a powerhouse ingredient, it can take up to twelve weeks of consistent use to see positive results. Your skin will need several weeks to adjust to the ingredient and start reacting to it on a cellular level.

You may start to see some results within two months, but the best and most positive results will be seen around the third month. Take your time to find a retinol product that works for you such as our AGELESS total overnight retinol masque or IMAGE MD® restoring youth repair crème and stick with it over the long term to get the best results.


Retinol can be highly effective when it comes to reducing the appearance of blemishes, minor damages, and fine lines on your skin. However, proper application can directly affect the results of a retinoid routine. Retinol is an intense ingredient and can potentially be very drying for your skin.

Many dermatologists will recommend starting slow with a lower concentration of retinol, such as our IMAGE MD restoring overnight retinol masque. This will give your skin the time to slowly ease into the highly concentrated benefits of the ingredient without experiencing too much drying, redness or irritation.

  • Step 1: Be sure your face is thoroughly washed. Apply an eye cream to the delicate skin around your eyes.

  • Step 2: Ensure your skin is thoroughly dried. Damp skin can prevent the retinol from properly absorbing into your skin.

  • Step 3: Apply a very small pea-sized amount of retinol to your finger and start by applying it to your chin and moving upward into your cheeks.

  • Step 4: Place another pea-sized amount on your finger and apply it to your forehead by slowly smoothing it into the skin.

  • Step 5: Let the retinol absorb into your skin for 20-30 minutes before applying your favorite moisturizer and broad spectrum sunscreen.


When used correctly and applied slowly, retinol products such as our AGELESS Total Retinol-a-crème are a safe and highly potent addition to your skincare routine that can boost the results of your anti-aging and blemish smoothing goals.


  • Do follow up your retinol with Hyaluronic Acid to counteract the drying effects.

  • Do wait 30 minutes after applying retinol to use other products.

  • Do start slowly with retinol products such as our AGELESS total repair crème if you are new to it.

  • Don’t use retinol at the same time as other potent actives, such as vitamin C or benzoyl peroxide.

  • Don’t apply retinol in large amounts, a pea-sized dab will do.

  • Don’t forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day.

  • Don’t be impatient when it comes to seeing retinol results.

There you have it–all the information you need to apply retinol correctly. Are you pumped? Your skin is, too, and is ready to get luminous and plump!

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