The beginner’s guide to using retinol

The beginner’s guide to using retinol - Reese Witherspoon

Advertorial: Why you shouldn’t be intimidated by this powerhouse ingredient

Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / September 28 2018

Retinol sounds like a pretty serious skin care ingredient, which may be why you’ve chosen to leave it out of your skin care routine to date. But actually, it’s not so bad – in fact, its benefits are SO good, your skin is missing out. 

If you’re new to retinol, allow us to talk you through the basics of the potent ingredient so you no longer feel intimidated.

What is retinol

Retinol is a powerful anti-ageing ingredient. As a form of vitamin A, it works to promote skin renewal and increase collagen production, which are two unfortunate side effects of getting older.

Why your skin needs retinol

Fine lines, wrinkles, a loss of firmness – it is just what you need for younger-looking skin. But that’s not all it helps with – it can speed up skin cell regeneration, which will improve skin tone and texture, too.

“Since retinol helps with overall textural and tone improvement, it can be beneficial for numerous different signs of ageing. It helps with cell turnover, making skin look more youthful. It also helps to support skin’s natural collagen and elastin, thus improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr Dendy Englemen, Celebrity Dermatologist, Cosmetic & Skin Cancer Surgeon.

Besides erasing signs of ageing, retinol’s ability to speed up the skin renewal process means it’s great for lightening pigmentation and unclogging pores for a clearer complexion.

When should you start using retinol

There’s no time like the present for your skin to start benefiting from the addition of retinol products in your skin care routine. “For anti-ageing benefits, I recommend starting in mid-to-late 20s to help encourage cell renewal since we know cell turnover slows as we inch towards 30. That being said, I have more and more patients in their early 20s asking for it as a preventative measure,” shares Engelmen.

What ingredients work well with retinol

Retinol is one powerful ingredient, but when combined with certain other ingredients, it can deliver next-level results. Ceramides are one such ingredient. Alone, we already know that retinol works overtime to erase lines, but it can be drying for some skin types; ceramides benefit skin by boosting its moisture levels and repairing the skin barrier. Together, they visibly reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, improve skin texture, tone and clarity, and leave you with younger-looking skin. And they do all of that in every capsule of Elizabeth Arden’s new Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum.

“By adding ceramides to the formula, we are helping to moisturise with the application of the serum itself and helping to pre-emptively address the dryness and potential irritation that we know retinol can cause,” says Engelmen.

Worth noting too, is the pros of retinol being encapsulated. As retinol can be sensitive to light and air, Elizabeth Arden’s single-dose format helps stabilise the retinol for maximum potency.

To use the Retinol Ceramide Capsules, gently twist the tab to open the capsule. Pour the serum into your hands and smooth over your face and neck after cleansing and before moisturising every night.

What you need to be careful of

Yes, retinol comes with a couple of warnings, but knowledge is power and being aware of them will help you get the most out of your retinol product.

Engelmen advises that “retinol can be unstable under ultraviolet radiation and skin can be hypersensitive to sunlight with retinol use”. She recommends retinol be used as part of your nighttime skin care regimen. And follow up with a good dose of sunscreen the following morning for extra protection.

Also, ease yourself into retinol – applying products with a high percentage of retinol in the formula may be too much for your skin to handle straight off the bat. Start with formulas that have less than one per cent retinol and use only one retinol-enriched product to begin with.

“Using more of a retinol product won’t make it more efficacious, just more irritating.” explains Engelmen, adding that Elizabeth Arden’s Retinol Ceramide Capsules help avoid irritation because they’re pre-dosed so you don’t need to think about how much you’re using. If your skin doesn’t experience any irritation or sensitivity after using retinol for the first few times, then you can introduce more potent formulations into the mix.


Now that you're looking after your skin, it's time to do a quick makeup check. Here's how to prevent your makeup from ageing you.

Are you currently using any retinol skin care products? Have you tried encapsulated retinol before? Share with us your experiences below.

Main image credit: Getty

Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.