Mixology 101: Retinol

Author Team Essentialist

When it comes to skincare there are so many fabulous ingredients but knowing how to use them is not always intuitive. Though it would be lovely to just slap on a given product and get the best results, it's not always so simple. We see questions on general use and mixing of ingredients all the time so we thought a brief on which ingredients work well together and which should be avoided would be useful. Retinol is the second ingredient we are discussing in our Mixology 101 series (last week we discussed vitamin C, click here if you missed it).

Best Used When:

Evening/Night routine. We recommend applying it at night because it makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays. SPF is a skincare routine essential, but especially when using an ingredient such as retinol.

Best Used With:

Bakuchiol. It’s a retinol alternative that can work wonders when used together by helping stabilize the retinol, lengthening it’s efficacious time, and calming the skin and allowing It to better tolerate the retinol. You can find bakuchiol in our Daily Renewal Facial Oil.

Hyaluronic Acid. It’s gentle, soothing, and can help to reduce the irritations that often come with using retinol.

Ceramides. Helps prep the skin for retinol by keeping the barrier hydrated.

Niacinamide. Helps hydrate and reduce any irritation caused by retinol. It’s suggested to apply Niacinamide first then wait five minutes before applying retinol but they’re also effective if used on alternating days.

SPF. It’s a MUST to use during the day when your night routine involves retinol because your skin's cellular turnover is increased and will be more prone to sun sensitivity and UV damage. 

Don’t Mix With:

AHAs/BHAs. These two exfoliators combined with retinol are not advised especially for those with sensitive skin.  Even using them at different times on the same day can lead to irritation, heightened sensitivity, and redness. We suggest alternating days of use or consulting your dermatologist about mixing them. 

Benzoyl Peroxide. The two cancel each other out and render one another ineffective. 

Vitamin C. Their functionality is best optimized at different times of day so rotate them, vitamin C for day and retinol for night.