3 Retinol Benefits You Need to Know About—and 4 Myths

If it’s your first time using retinol, go slowly. You might want to start with a mild concentration, a small amount of product, and application only a few times a week at first. But keep in mind that you won’t see results overnight. “It will take a minimum of eight to 12 weeks to see your skin start to improve,” Gmyrek says. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. More is not better, and it will increase your chances of irritation, causing you to discontinue usage. Begin using a new product every third night for a week or two, then increase to every other night before using every night. This will allow your skin to accommodate to the product, increasing your chances of successful use.”

Here are a couple of other steps and recommendations:

1. Cleanse and completely dry your skin first. “If you apply to damp skin, it may alter the absorption and lead to more irritation,” Gmyrek says. A thin coating will do, so you don’t have to slather it on.

2. Stay away from certain areas. You’ll also want to avoid areas that are the most vulnerable to dryness, like around the nose, mouth, and eyes. Avoid using it on broken or irritated skin or if you have a rash, dermatitis, eczema, or a rosacea flare-up. “When the skin barrier or outer surface of the skin is not intact, the product is allowed to penetrate into the cracked skin and will, almost surely, cause irritation,” Gmyrek says.

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