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How I Added Retinol To My Skincare Routine

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Welcome to the world of retinol. Whether you’re a skincare junkie or just dipping your toes into the sea of anti-aging, retinol could be your best friend. But just like human friendships, knowing a lot about the subject will save you from many unfortunate circumstances. From when to apply, to concentrations, here is everything that helped me add retinol into my skincare routine. (I am not a licensed dermatologist, just a girl with a skincare hyper fixation.)

When to apply

I apply my retinol at night because sunlight can decrease the effectiveness of the product. I also make sure to wear SPF every day because retinol can increase your susceptibility to sun damage. 

When I was new to retinol, I only applied the product once a week to avoid chemical burns. As my skin got used to the product, I worked my way up to applying it twice a week, then three times. 

How to apply 

Throughout my retinol journey, I found it especially important to sufficiently moisturize. I have dry skin naturally and retinol causes my skin to dry out even more. When I first started incorporating retinol into my routine, I used the sandwich method; one layer of moisturizer, a layer of retinol, then another layer of moisturizer.

For me, it was also important to use the product sparingly. I found that I only needed a pea-sized amount of the product to cover my whole face and then another to cover my neck and decolletage. 


In my opinion, the most important thing I learned about retinol is how to differentiate between the different percentages. Most retinol products range from 0.1% – 1% retinol. I discovered that my sensitive skin reacted best to a lower percentage when I first started retinol. After I went through a full bottle of my first retinol product, I leveled up to a 0.3% concentration. As I got more comfortable with retinol, I continued to increase my percentages until I reached 1%. 

While adding steps to your skincare routine can be exciting, it is important to understand the product you are introducing and start off slow. Educate yourself on the benefits and disadvantages of retinol before you incorporate it into your routine and talk to a dermatologist if you have any concerns. Happy anti-aging.

Hi! I'm Katie and I'm a junior psychology major here at UT Austin. I love reading, self care and my cat, Cleo!