Anti Aging

Retinol Side Effects: What They Are and How to Deal with Them

Woman with clean face looking to the side

Retinol is one of the best skin care options for improving your skin.

But—like any active ingredient—some side effects can be expected:

This article will show you how to deal with any retinol side effects to lessen their impact. The right product used correctly can seriously change your skin—so read on!

Note: Retinol is Different to Prescription Vitamin A

Confusing….. Retinol is one of the retinoids, or derivatives, of vitamin A.  

Retinol is one step “down” from retinoic acid chemically, so it isn’t as strong and can be tolerated easier. This is also why it is available over-the-counter without a prescription (unlike retin-a or Tretinoin, which you must get via prescription).

This over-the-counter retinoid does deliver similar benefits, just not as strong or as quick.

Retinol is still active and still effective, especially for anti aging concerns like wrinkles, fine lines, dull skin and pigmentation. Hence it can still cause side effects and needs to be used properly.

So let’s get on with it!

What to Expect

It all depends on how your skin reacts. But if you’re using a quality product, meaning the retinol is in the right dose and formulation so it’s able to be delivered to the skin, you can expect at least some of the following:

*Important* These side effects are temporary, usually improving in 2 – 6weeks depending on your skin.

As long as you build tolerance up properly with the right product, you will get the benefits! How to build up tolerance correctly is below…

How to Deal with Common Retinol Side Effects:


Redness is usually accompanied with a “windburn” feeling or hotness. This can start right after you apply it, or may develop later after a few applications.

To lessen this redness, don’t apply your retinol cream right after a hot shower or when your face is still hot from exercise.

Hot rooms and extremes in temperature can make this worse, so try to avoid those as much as possible while your skin is getting used to it.

Slight flaking/peeling and dry skin

  • Retinoids increase turnover of skin cells, so the top layer of your skin is also turning over at a faster rate. These dead skin cells stay on skin’s surface and cause the flaking, or ‘dusting’.
  • This is sometimes thought of as exfoliation. But technically it is not exfoliating, as the dead skin cells aren’t removed.
  • Continued use improves this. Don’t be tempted to use any harsh exfoliants at the same time, as this will irritate skin further.
  • A soothing and hydrating mask used 2 or 3 times a week helps. A good hydrating day time moisturizer is important.
  • Apply a thin layer of Vaseline before bed (after the retinol product has had time to dry and soak into skin). Cleanse your face properly in the morning. This can seriously help with dryness and flaking.

Uncomfortable tightness

Girl touching face in front of mirror

Uncomfortable because tight feeling skin isn’t always a bad thing. This is often a sign the product is working.

But it can be uncomfortable and generally feels as though your skin has been pulled in. It usually accompanies the “windburn” feeling above.

This can also be relieved by applying Vaseline at night or a soothing moisturizer over top.


You skin may start itching slightly, particularly on the cheek area. This is from the speed up of cell turnover—kind of like how a wound itches when it starts healing.

Not unbearable, but not fun either.

If you must itch, just use your finger tips lightly!

Again, a thin layer of soothing moisturizer or aloe vera gel over top can make a difference. A cool wash cloth held to your skin for a few minutes also helps.


Not everyone experiences breakouts with topical creams. But this “purge” can happen when skin cell turnover and sebum production increase, leading to blocked pores.

If you normally have acne you may be more likely to experience this.

Even if your skin is clear, don’t be surprised if one or two breakouts come to the surface when you first start using retinol products. It may simply be some “underlying” breakouts coming to the surface by the action of retinol.

Keep using the product and know that this is usually temporary.

Once skin is more balanced, it will be clearer over all, well worth it!

When Side Effects Are Not Normal: what to do

Some side effects are more severe, and with these you may like to reassess your use of Retinol. They can be similar to the above but more extreme – with severe redness, irritation and sensitivity:

  • Your skin might not tolerate Retinol. In fact, some people have more luck with prescription Vitamin A than over the counter (OTC) retinol!
  • If you’re using a good Retinol product (like RoC Cream) and building up slowly, but find your skin can’t tolerate it, consider speaking to a dermatologist. A prescription vitamin A might work better for you.
  • Irritation to the eyes is possible. Stop using the product and see your doctor. Don’t apply the product to the eye area—go no higher than the orbital bone.

How to Use Retinol For the Best Results:

The following tips will help you get the most out of using Retinol by building your skins tolerance correctly, so you can experience the benefits while lessening the side effects!

First: Choose the Right Topical Product

Retinoid Gel

Gels are generally more drying as they don’t contain skin-hydrating emollients. Retinoid gels are a great option for acne or oily skins—successfully treating acne usually involves drying it out.

Retinoids Cream

A cream is the most popular way to use a retinoid, it is the easiest and most gentle option.

You can simply use it in replace of your usual night cream. And because it will include other “heavy” emollient ingredients irritation is slightly less likely.


A serum can be applied before another product, so is a good option if you prefer to keep using a normal night cream or enjoy layering. But retinol is usually more effective in a cream or lotion.

But a quality vitamin c serum can enhance the anti aging, brightening benefits if used together.

Second: How to Use Retinol for Best Results

Hand touching cream product

1. Do a patch test before using the first time:

Put a small amount behind your ear or underneath your jaw leave for 12-24hours. If there is no reaction, continue to use on your face.

2. Apply to cleansed and dry skin

Use a mild cleanser in the first few weeks. An exfoliating cleanser might make your skin extra dry.

3. For the first one to two weeks:

Apply it 2 or 3 times a week at night. Then increase to every night as your skin feels okay.

Decrease the frequency any time you feel it’s too much—if your skin feels hot or tight, or gets too dry.

4. After 4 – 6weeks of use:

You should be seeing benefits already and have a good idea of how your skin is tolerating it.

5. While your skin is getting used to Retinol in the first 2-4 weeks:

Stop using any AHA’s (like glycolic acid) or BHA’s (like salicylic acid). After this time or longer (you will be able to tell when your skin can handle it) you can reintroduce these products.

Use them in the morning to lessen irritation.

6. Use Retinol along with AHA/BHA’s…

…you can apply the exfoliant directly before using retinol. This can increase the benefits.

Be careful with this approach, go slowly and monitor your skin.

7. Always wear sunscreen

New, vulnerable skin cells are coming to the surface faster so it is vital they are protected from the sun.

Perhaps more importantly—retinoids are easily damaged on exposure to sun light. This is why products must come in opaque containers.

So it is doubly important to protect your skin daily: to prevent any damage to skin and any damage to the product itself (which will render it useless).


Can I use retinoids if I have sensitive skin?

You certainly can. Do the patch test mentioned above before starting (place a small amount of product behind your ear for 24hours).

You may need to build up tolerance slower to prevent irritation. Start using the product every third day.

If your skin is fine after three weeks, increase the frequency to every second day.

Do retinol side effects mean it is bad for your skin?

Like anything, too much can be “bad” for your skin. Follow the tips on this page and the instructions on your product, and you will enjoy the benefits.

Remember to adjust your usage to suit you. If you are experience any signs of irritation you can always take a step back and reduce the frequency for a few days. You are in control!




  1. Hi

    I started to use Retinol 24 from Oley regenerist three nights ago. I got the cream specifically for the eye area and the serum for face. I have under eye dark circles and one huge fine rinkle along half the diameter of the circle on the left side. It looks obvious but after I used the retinol cream my under eye skin has literally aged at least 10 years. It’s no exaggeration. Now it has 4 very fine lines along the existing one, which looks deeper now and the skin has sagged! The right side looks just as dry but not as much as the left side. I look terribly older. I don’t have any redness or irritation otherwise. The rest of my face looks the same as before. The melasma is not bothered by the cream at all. What can I do to regress such super fast aging process under my eyes? do I continue using the cream?

  2. I purchased the new Retinol cream from Olay products.Was using it nightly for close to a week and the burning and itching is unbearable.Needless to say,I have not used it for the past week and am still waiting for it to clear up.Even a mild plain Olay or other day cream would burn when first applied.I have used a Retinol cream in the past and no side effects,maybe Olay 24 is too strong.Glad I found this site,you have put my mind at rest,if I ever go back to using this it maybe once a week,if at all.I have had good skin all my life,so at 86 yrs.young thought I’d give this a try.Thanks again.

    1. Hi and thank you for your comment! I am so sorry to hear you experienced this, it can certainly be extra frustrating when your skin has always been good. There may be something else in the Olay product that increased the reaction on your skin, good idea to starting it once a week if you ever want to try it again. Just a small amount on a small area is probably a good idea too to start with. Keep being gentle with your skin at the moment, it will recover. All the best!

    2. I ran out of my daily moisturizer & decided to try Retinol24. The reaction was delayed by a week. I first felt a little tingling & thought the product was “working”. A week later, my face is on fire. Everything I put in it, save Vaseline, is burning something fierce. I will have to leave all products off until it heals. I’m not sure that I’ll give it another try. I’m sorry about that, for i was hoping for long-term help. I’m glad to see your post.

      1. Thanks for your comment Joanne! I’m sorry to hear about this reaction, it can be worse when it’s delayed since it’s had the chance to build up. If you do want to give it another try definitely wait until your skin heals, then perhaps try using it on a small area (e.g. one side of your chin…) every second night and see if you can build up from there. It is also possible this product has something else in it making your skin react more. Unfortunately it is often trial and era, however don’t give up on retinol if you’re hoping for long term help, it’s usually a matter of finding the right product and frequency for you. All the best!

  3. Hi, I started using differin gel (which contains 0.1% of adapalene, a retinoid) and I’m a little confused about whether or not its actually working. To give a bit of background I have always had clear skin till I was 21, couldn’t find my usual moisturiser, stupidly bought a random one and then the horrors began as I made many mistakes and suffered horrifying painful acne for 2 years. Now I’m on the path to recovery with a good routine and 30% glycolic Acid face pads and Bha exfoliation every night. I wouldn’t say my skin is sensitive as I have put it through quite a lot on the acne warpath and it was fine (had a slight burn reaction to TO 2% salicylic acid but no issues using a stronger BHA of a different brand)
    Now I put it on after double cleansing and…. nothing. No tingling, nada, zilch. I moisturised as usual and went to bed and only woke up with very slightly drier skin at the corner of my lips. Thats it. I mean is that normal?? Aren’t people supposed to feel something? Or have a bit of reaction? Maybe my tube is bad… Just looking for proof that someone used a retinoid/retinol and didn’t feel a darn thing

  4. Started using Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair. Used as directed ( twice a day ) to help lessen my wrinkles. My face did become somewhat red and also very dry and did feel like a wind burn. Used it for about 2 1/2 – 3 weeks. I stopped using it. Just looking for something else that might work. Seems the Neutrogena has a lot of good reviews so I thought I would try it.

    1. I also tried the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair and it has made my face a mess! It looks and feels like poison oak but it is the Retinol. I am apparently allergic to it as even my eyelids are red and itchy and I did not apply it there! Never again. I unfortunately found a great article about Retinol……wish I had read it before trying.

  5. I used RoC Deep Wrinkle Cream w/retinol for the first time Friday night March 15 2019, when I woke up Saturday morning my face was completely irritated, covered in little zits and red blotches all over and its unbelievably itchy. Today is Tuesday March 19th and there is no improvement infact the itching is worse.. I tried to allow this irritation to subside on its own but I’ll be going to the Doctors tomorrow.
    I need relief, Calamine lotion and Benadryl isn’t helping 😥

  6. Hi I’v been using retinol gel for about a month now and at first I was seeing a really positive difference but now it’s drying my skin out wayy too much and I have been using a neautrogena spot moisturiser and it’s making no difference to my dry, flaky skin so I decided to use a towel and scrape of all the dry skin but now my skin is so red and is extremely irritating and feels like it’s burning really bad also it’s soo painful so I don’t know what to do I don’t know If I should stop using retinol because it’s drying my skin out too much or what but retinol does help with my acne it’s just drying my skin out too much and also I don’t know what to do about my stinging skin I think I may have made it worse by scraping the dry skin off Can someone please give me some advice I need HELP urgently my skin looks awful and is hurting so bad also is making me feel majorly insecure.🤷🏽‍♀️😞😔😫🥺😳🥵😑😓😥🤷🏽‍♀️

    1. Yes , it’s normal do not worry about it , but first of all you should be doing that what you did to your skin when you are using retinol , it’ll turnover new cells very fastly that you’ll face redness , itching , sensitivity , burning in skin , also tightness as well , so in your case ,it does makes your skin dry also if you’ve noticed carefully there is a dead layer of your skin appears on your face while using it , so basically you scraped that layer by yourself before it’s dead completely , that’s why it’s burning and your skin is even more sensitive now , you should not touch your skin let this process happen on its own in a natural way . Understand ? So now you should be very careful with the sun and any kind of heating product , now you should be applying good alo vera soothing gels on your skin , which is doctors recommend like good product of alo Vera it will sooth your skin , and now you should stop using that retinol for at least 4 days , after 4 days apply it again in a little amount in the night . !

  7. Great article !
    I have started using Retin A 0.025% for around 3 weeks now , starting slow ( 3 times a week )
    I have started to feel my eyes getting dry . ( not the skin but my eyes , as if I have less tears ) my eyes are NOT irritated , not red nor puffy . Simply dry feeling .I have read that this can be a side effect .
    Is there something I can do ?
    Does this side effect tend to go away?

  8. I started using retinol a few weeks ago and now my skin looks horrible. Fine lines showed on my forehead, pores appear larger, and skin has a rough texture. I’m wondering if I should continue ..

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      I started using an awesome new product with retinol in it and my skin has been the best it’s ever been. Everyone has been commenting on how young I look. What product are you using?

      1. My routine is anything but routine. I no longer use soap on my face with only the occasional exception once a week. I rinse with cool to warm water, apply a liberal amount of Retin-A, in the morning I rinse again, apply baby oil which sinks in almost immediately (I may re-apply 2 or 3 times). after about 30 minutes to an hour I apply sunscreen, then let it absorb if applying makeup-if not them I’m ready for the day. The baby oil immediately relieves burning, itching, and irritation, it costs 1/3 of expensive moisturizers, works rapidly, and the results are amazing. I won’t trade my “routine” for anything.

  9. I used a 1% retinol cream on my decoltage and had a serious reaction. I broke out in a rash. Is this normal and should I continue to use on this sensitive area?

  10. I have read the article which is very helpful , thank you. But after reading all the comments not one person has had a possitive reaction or said their skin is healthy and fine lines are looking much better than before!! Why are we bothering to use at all if it’s all negative?! Feeling worried as I have just bought The Ordinary 0.2% and after reading this I’m having serious doubts if to bother using it.

    1. Keep in mind the article is about side effects. I doubt people having no side effects would be googling and finding this article. It makes sense to me that the comments are mostly people with reactions. Condider the audience.
      I think you should give it a try. I know lots of people with great success using retinol. I use a product with something called Retinal MD (as close to vitamin A as you can get without a prescription)
      I use it with no problems until this week. I had a mild reaction. After reading this article I think it was because i put it on diectly after a hot bath. Now i know better! I will resume using it for sure!

    2. Hi L Jones. I have purchased 0.5% retinol by The ordinary last week. Used it twice consecutively. No irritation till now. Play by the rules and just go slow. I have read a couple of articles which said The ordinary will have little to no irritation at all. My skin is sensitive. I had no dryness since my skin is super oily already. Hope this helps. Thanks.

  11. I have always had oily, acne-prone skin. It has been almost two months that I have started using SkinMedica Retinol .25% and my face has had the worst breakouts that I have ever had in my life. I was just wondering how much longer I should wait for this to cease or if I should discontinue using the product now.

  12. Retin-A DAMAGED by eye area. I have under eye bags and wrinkles, and Retin-A burned and made them worse! I have tried everything – hyaluronic and retinol serums, oils, eye creams – you name it! Nothing made a difference.

    So I tried several products on Amazon, and the one that worked the best was the Somaluxe Renewal Serum because it restored hydration, plumped up the area and smoothed out the texture. I’m happy to report that I think I’ve found the product that has helped my tired eyes. Good luck to you as well!

  13. I have started a retinol cream I purchased from my dermatologist .05. I probably started to quickly and put it on 3 nights in a row, now my skin seems a bit red, tight and a bit blotchy. Is that normal? I stopped using it about 3 days ago and was wondering how long this might take to subside.

  14. I started using retinol from Retriderm over a month ago and it only made my combination skin oilier and I’ve had a few breakouts. I’ve switched to tretinoin (acretin 0.25) and it’s still making my skin oily. Is this normal? I’m 23 and have been using the products 2-3 times a week, how often should I be using it?Also, is the excess oil my skins way of saying to cut down on products? I stopped using the facial oil my facials recommended over the retinol because my skin feels way too oily the next day and I’m scared of breaking out. Is the product working even though it’s not drying out my skin?

    1. It’s possible the tretinoin is making your skin oily, this could be a reaction to it actually drying out your skin so it is overcompensating. This should get better with use. However, it is really important to see your dermatologist for any concerns you have as I can’t give you specific advice about your skin. Good luck!

  15. I’ve heard that once you start to use retinol you have to continue to use it in a stronger ‘dose’ after approximately a year as it ceases to work, is this correct?

    1. After a year or so your skin will be “used” to a certain dose, however this doesn’t mean it isn’t working anymore. So no, there is no need to use a stronger dose – you certainly can if you wish, but keep in mind it can be hard to increase a dose depending on what product you use (they aren’t all the same). Also, some skins are totally fine with the smallest dose possible, forever…
      Some product companies have different doses that encourage you to start lower and work up to the higher doses. This is to lessen side effects rather than the efficacy of the dose and is possibly a marketing ploy to encourage you to keeping buying.
      A good way to give your retinol a boost if you’re using it long term is to give your skin a “break” of 2 – 4 weeks occasionally. Also, adding a glycolic acid product and/or vitamin C serum to your routine can be beneficial.

      1. Thank you so much, that’s very helpful. I’ve never been able to find a satisfactory answer before & have been worried about starting something which might harm my skin for the future. I started using a retinol cream about a month ago & have had no side effects but no change either so I must be patient & persevere.
        Thank you.

  16. Thank you so much. I just started incorporating a retinoid into my skincare regimen and I’ve been having some unpleasant effects. My skin feels rough and I’m getting some breakouts. I stopped using for a few days, but decided to apply last night. My philosophy was that I needed to let it try to do its job first before giving up.

    I’m glad I read your article, breaking everything down and giving solutions for the side effects. I’m a lot less concerned now. Very much appreciated. Thank you

  17. GREAT article! I finally found the answers to my questions! Have retinol burn on neck and eyes. Your q & a series really helped!

  18. I have been using Roc deep wrinkle noght time cream for 6 mths or so – now starting to see red bumps size of pimples around lower part of eyes – what is happening?

    1. Hmmm, I’m not sure if it would be the retinol itself, it’s hard to say. A possibility it that it is drying your skin, so using another more hydrating lotion as well might help (a simple cream or even a layer of Vaseline might help). Also be sure to apply any product in upward, smooth and gentle strokes – this helps as a sort of “face lift” massage, and will ensure no extra downward pressure is applied which can cause sagging – same with how you wash your face etc. You can see this article for more info on this and details on how to do it exactly >

  19. Is retinol bad in shaving cream? I use a shaving butter which has Vitamin A listed as one of ingredients however I always wash my face right after shave, so its on skin only for like 10 mins, is that duration enough concern in long-terms to cause cancers or tumor with skin absorption? I did not face any other issues like redness, rashes etc.

    1. Shaving cream with Vitamin A is fine – generally if an ingredient is listed as Vitamin A rather than “retinol” it is likely the type of Vit A that doesn’t have the same effects as retinol, such as carotenoids (retinol is only one derivative of Vit A). Often it’s there to make the ingredient list more impressive, but really doesn’t have much effect on the skin. Ok that sounds totally confusing, but basically the shaving cream will be totally fine for you especially if you aren’t experiencing redness or irritation 🙂

  20. I mainly got retinol cream for a few fine lines under my eyes Can you use a retinol under the eyes or do you have to use one specifically designed for around the eyes.Also can a LED mask be used whilst using retinol say one night retinol and the other night the mask.

    1. You can use retinol cream over the orbital bone around the eye, but avoid using it any closer (on the eyelids or directly under the eye) – unless the product specifically says this is ok. Using an LED light should be ok if you alternate it with retinol – general advice only! 🙂

    2. ALthough you said to alternate the led mask with the retinol on another reply you said to wait at least a week.I’m even more confused now. With the LED mask I do use 15 minutes red light and 5 minutes the blue light and then on the next night I use the retinol cream only.Is this ok?

      1. Hmm I think it was me who got confused on the last question, which I’ll edit – it should have been a week after sun exposure (normal daily sun exposure is fine if you use sunscreen, but any tanning/sunbeds/sunburn etc wait a week). 24hours after light therapy to be cautious, always better to be cautious. HOWEVER this is general advice – as always please check with your derm or the manufacturer/company.

  21. Hello, I purchased Neutrogena with retinol and used it for couple of days and my eyes are so swollen up under them and looks like water build up under my skin. I can actually move the liquid around there is so much of it. I have a rash all over my face and neck. Is there anything I can do to help this other than I have stopped using the cream? Is this a normal side effect? Please help. I am 61 years old and only tried to see if it would help with fine lines. Thank you for any advice or information.

    1. This does sound like a reaction – I’m glad you’ve stopped using it. While it may not have been the product – it’s likely it was if you had just started using it. Something in it doesn’t agree with you so definitely stop using it for good (it may or may not be the retinol, it’s possible there is another ingredient in it you are allergic to). If this reaction doesn’t get start getting better quickly I would recommend seeing a pharmacist or doctor to be on the safe side. You should be fine however, one thing about product reactions is they usually disappear after you stop using the product!

      1. I’m experiencing the same side affects. I have been using a few weeks, it looks really bad, very red, actually hurts to touch around eyes, bumps, rashes, flaking skin, lots of luiquid build up under eyes, slight film on eyeball.

        1. I should also add I’m only using the specific eye serum around my eyes, I’m using the face serum & night cream on my face w/no side effects .

    2. Hi – the first time I used retinol my eyes puffed up so I stopped for a couple of days and then made sure I avoided eye area. I seem to be fine now and am using it every other night.

  22. I am wondering how long it takes retinol to leave your skin. I am considering red-light therapy and I can not use retinol while doing so. Any advise would be helpful. Thank you.

    1. It depends on a few factors this is general advice only – please always check with your professional or the particular manual for any devices used. For light therapy 24 hours is usually recommended, for sun exposure a minimum of one week. This all depends on how long you have been using Retinol for, the strength of it, your particular skin etc… better to err on the side of caution and you will be totally fine 🙂

  23. I use retinol acid for the past 3 months and notice i get break outs with smal fines whiteheads is this part of the process, not sure if this is good for me acne has become worse..

  24. Hello i have a question . I applied a retinol mask for 30min then i had to take it off at the beginning i felt a birnimg sensation but i continued to use it after the 30 min i took it of and washed my face a couple of days after my face was so dry very itchy and now is been about 2 weeks and is starting to peel off but is mostly on one side of my face. I’ve been trying different moisturizers on my face but nothing is helping. My chin broke up with pimples and i never had pinmples. My question is what can i use to relieve my dry flaky skin im tired of it is the worse dry feeling ever. I have ezema om my hand and i really thought i was getting it on my face but as im reading it was caused by retinol. How long will it take to go away i only used it once.

    1. Hi I’ve got the same problem,I have just purchased some Hydrocortisone cream from the pharmacy.
      It definitely think it’s helping,I have read this as well on similar sites so may be worth a try.
      It’s pretty upsetting when you try to improve skin and it just looks worse!

    1. Yes this was very helpful to me as well. I have started flaking from using the retiniol. It truly scared me until I came across this article and it taught me the side effects.
      Thank you for this information!

  25. So, I’ve literally used the Skinmedica just once about 6 nights ago. I’ve also started using a prescription brightening cream (both from my dermatologist). The last two days I’ve noticed small rash like bumps on my chin and jawline of my face. I thought my lips were chapped, but now I think it’s part of the reaction. I’m going to call my doctor in the morning, but wanted to ask if you think this is a normal reaction. I’m not experiencing redness. I’m quit allergic to many ingredients in products, but I checked and neither of these items have something I’m allergic to. I’d love to know your thoughts.

    1. Small rash like bumps does sound like some sort of non-normal reaction – it isn’t possible for me to say anything definite though of course. It could be an ingredient in one of the creams, or even a reaction from using both together. Any sort of prescription creams are usually strong – which is good – but of course this can make them more likely to cause reactions. Further, it may not be an ingredient but simply the strength of the creams. I’m glad you’re going to see your doc, they will definitely be able to help you 🙂

  26. Thank you for this. Its helped me understand what to expect on my first week (and first time) use of retinol by skinmedica. I am experiencing the drying and dusting especially around the mouth.

  27. Is it common for MORE and DEEPER lines to show up around the mouth/lip area after starting a retinol? I woke up and thought- goodness! I made it worse not better!? Thanks-

    1. This could be because retinol usually makes your skin drier in the beginning and increases cell turnover, so dead skin cells may be sitting on your skin as a build up which makes lines appear deeper/more obvious. Especially around the mouth as this area is used a lot so doesn’t take much for lines to appear – even sleeping on a funny angle can indent skin…
      This should improve with continued use – in the mean time you can use another plain cream or Vaseline/Aquaphor over top to help with dryness, and possibly cut down the frequency of use if it is bad.

  28. I am 37 yrs old and have been using retinol( environ lowest dose) for 1 month now. I am noticing slight fine lines to the side of my mouth and chin. Has anyone else experienced this?

    1. My skin looks a lot worse after 7 weeks. Wrinkles on my forehead I never had before. Was only trying to prevent crows feet and it worse now then ever.

  29. So even though you will get some reactions like peeling and redness in the beginning you should continue to use it ?
    Will continuing use help remove some of the flaking ?? Argh I’m so over this my fave has been a rough mess for 3 weeks !

    1. It does depend how bad those reactions are – definitely reduce the frequency to every third night for a while. Even once week and build up VERY slow. Continued use does reduce the flaking. It would be fairly rare for an OTC product to give an extreme reaction, perhaps you are on a prescribed retinoid? If that’s the case I would speak to your doctor – but more severe side effects are usually associated with that stronger type..

  30. I used Retinol 1% i squalane from The Ordinary and my skin reacts like all of the above. I cannot use my normal cream, my hyaluronic acid or any of my oils because it hurts to much whenever i apply a moisturizing product . Should i just buy vaseline instead?

    1. Hi! Aquaphor might be a good choice, especially because it is easier to apply than Vaseline if you are using it on most of your face. I’m not sure how often you are applying the retinol but do give your skin a break until the pain and sensitivity goes away. You could also try mixing the retinol cream with a bit of Aquaphor or your normal cream once you start using it again, and build up that way. Hope that helps!

      1. Yes. Aquaphor is very soothing on sensitive, retinol burned or irritated skin. I speak from experience! Vaseline will help too, but Aquaphor works best! Good luck!

  31. I have used Retinol cream for several months, but now I am experiencing redness and itching ! Your article has helped.

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