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What to Pair With Your Retinol to Put Your Best Face Forward

These are the products and ingredients you should use with retinol to maximize skin benefits and start seeing results.

When it comes to tried-and-tested products and the best anti-aging skincare ingredients, it’s no secret that retinol is the gold standard for its remarkable ability to do, well, almost anything you want it to do. The vitamin A derivative is recommended by dermatologists to address a myriad of concerns, from addressing uneven skin texture to fading dark spots and treating acne to, of course, slowing down the development of signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. The anti-aging ingredient does this by stimulating collagen production within the skin, which reduces the appearance of lines, helps fade dark spots and evens out skin tone and texture, giving your skin a clear complexion. (Fun fact: topical retinol was initially developed solely as an acne-fighting product, but dermatologists discovered that it was also incredibly effective at targeting fine lines and wrinkles.)

But as much of a do-it-all as it is, retinol certainly can’t be the only product in your skincare routine. Wondering how to start using retinol as part of a comprehensive and effective skincare regimen? Continue reading for a breakdown of the best anti-aging skincare ingredients to include in your daily routine as well as the common side effects of retinol to look out for.

What is the best way to incorporate retinol into your skincare routine?

Retinol works by speeding up the process of sloughing off dead skin cells (something our skin does naturally every few weeks), which is why it’s so effective at reducing things like dark spots and wrinkles. However, this sped-up process can also result in some skin irritation if it’s not approached with caution. When it comes to retinol, a slow and steady approach is best. Start by incorporating retinol products, like SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 Refining Night Cream, into your nighttime routine once or twice a week. If your skin responds well to that (in other words, no signs of irritation like redness or tightness), then you can increase the frequency. Ready to take things up a notch? Reach for a more potent formula such as one of our best retinol creams like SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream. It’s a powerful anti-aging cream that will help you achieve the best results for your skin.

What other ingredients pair well with retinol?

To maximize the many benefits of your retinol products, it’s important to know how to layer retinol and what not to mix with retinol. Certain anti-aging skincare ingredients are C1 - Internal use not only excellent at treating skin concerns but, when paired with retinol, actually maximize results and contribute to a well-rounded skincare routine that ensures you’re properly caring for your complexion.

Vitamin C and retinol

The first of these ingredients is vitamin C. Perhaps the most well-known antioxidant in skincare, vitamin C comes in many forms, but L-ascorbic acid is the most commonly used, so keep your eyes peeled for the term when you’re browsing ingredient lists. Vitamin C is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to brighten their skin tone, fade acne scars and dark spots and provide their skin with a layer of protection from pollution, pollen, dust and whatever other unappealing things are floating around in the air. Better yet, layering a vitamin C product, like SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (for dry skin types), SkinCeuticals CF Phloretin (for combination or sensitive skin types) or SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF (for oily, acne-prone skin), under your sunscreen is a great way to give your skin an added boost of protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays (one of the main causes of premature aging, not to mention skin cancer). So, when vitamin C and retinol work together, it results in double the anti-aging skincare ingredients for your skin. Who can say no to that?

Ceramides and retinol

Next up are ceramides. Ceramides are fat molecules (also known as lipids) that are an integral part of your skin’s barrier. They help skin retain moisture and allow it to function properly, contributing to the skin barrier’s ability to keep the good stuff (like moisture and hydration) in and the bad stuff (pollution, particulate matter, dry air) out. Maintaining healthy ceramide levels in the skin is crucial for preventing dehydration, irritation and loss of volume and for keeping skin feeling soft and looking firm and supple. However, ceramide levels can take a serious hit during seasonal changes, when we overuse oil-stripping soaps and washes and even as we age. Turn to one of our best moisturizers for dry skin , like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 to counter the effects of depleting ceramide levels within your skin barrier and give your complexion the hydration and moisture it craves. This is especially important when using retinol, which can contribute to dry skin and act as an irritant, so following up your nighttime retinol application with a thick, deeply moisturizing ceramide cream like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 to enjoy all the benefits of retinol.

Sunscreen and retinol

Lastly, there’s sunscreen. No matter what other products you use, you should be using sunscreen in your skincare routine every single day. Given that retinol and sun exposure are not a good combination, using SPF is non-negotiable when retinol is part of your regimen. This is because retinol can increase skin’s photosensitivity, leaving it more susceptible to sunburn and long-term sun damage, so it’s crucial to slather on a sunscreen, such as SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50, every day to properly protect and care for your skin.

Become a Skintellectual in 5 Steps

1. Start off with our beginner's guide
2. Learn how to layer retinol in your skincare routine
3. Learn which ingredients to pair with your retinol
4. How to introduce retinol in your nighttime routine.
5. Don't be swayed by common myths about retinol

Stay up to date on all your retinol news!

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