This Could Be The Best Retinol We've Tried For Sensitive Skin

Retinol is the ultimate skincare MVP. 

Every dermatologist, skin scientist and specialist will tell you retinol is hands-down the best anti-ageing ingredient out there. It can literally rewind the clock and shave years off our faces. 

But despite retinol’s science-backed brilliance, for those of us with sensitive skin, retinol can sadly have some pretty unpleasant side effects (and put us off ever trying it again out of fear of peeling, sensitivity and redness).

Thankfully, there are some gentle retinol products designed specifically to give you all the benefits of this anti-ageing powerhouse, without messing with your sensitive skin.

Why Do Some People Experience Sensitivity When Using Retinol?

Because retinol is so powerful, it can often cause redness, flaking and irritation when you add it to your routine. 

But the severity of the side effects will all depend on the strength of the retinol you’re using and your skin type, says dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald. 

“Retinols prompt increased cell turnover and renewal, and this results in a type of increased shedding of the sluggish and disordered cells on the skin surface. This will result in some redness, peeling or burning in some individuals, especially those with sensitive skin,” Dr McDonald explained. 

“The good thing is that, as the skin integrity improves due to the retinol use, the side effects will ease.”

What Is The Best Retinol For Sensitive Skin?

Legendary French pharmacy skincare brand La-Roche Posay (pronounced La-Rosh Posay, FYI) is famous for creating gentle yet effective products.

The La Roche-Posay Redermic Retinol B3 Serum is perfect for people who experience issues including redness, rosacea or painful breakouts, because it’s been specifically formulated for people with sensitive skin. It’s also a great retinol for acne sufferers, because it won’t aggravate already inflamed skin.  

The retinol is included in a lower concentration at 0.3 per cent and it’s also a slower-release formula, so your skin doesn’t get hit with a big dose all at once. 

“This means that those individuals who previously struggled to use a topical retinoid will be more likely to tolerate it and be able to enjoy all the benefits,” Dr McDonald says. 

“The new product combines pure retinol with a slow release retinol to deliver both high efficacy and improved tolerance. It also includes the ingredient niacinamide, which simultaneously works further to improve results and tolerability.”

Wait...It Also Contains Niacinamide?!

The inclusion of vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide, is a huge game changer

Niacinamide is a famously soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredient, often used in acne-fighting and anti-redness products. 

“Vitamin B3, known as niacinamide, is a water-soluble vitamin which also has incredible effects on the skin,” Dr McDonald explains. 

“B3 is a powerful antioxidant which combats oxidative stress in the skin, thus slowing down ageing processes and reducing inflammation. It also stimulates increased ceramide (skin lipid) production, which improves skin hydration and barrier function. By combining this ingredient with retinol it helps to improve retinol tolerability and decrease retinol side effects. 

With this serum, you’re getting the best of both worlds - a great beginner’s retinol with great wrinkle-fighting power, plus the soothing addition of niacinamide."

How To Incorporate Retinol Into Your Skincare Routine:

1. Start slowly 

If you’re using retinol for the very first time, start by using this serum at night once a week, or even once a fortnight if you know you’re extremely sensitive. 

Apply it under your regular night cream or moisturiser, as you would a normal evening serum. 

Try that for a month or two and if you feel as though your skin is ready for more, you can increase application to twice a week or even three times. 

2. Only use it at night

Retinol makes us more sensitive to the sun, as it increases cell turnover. So it’s always best to use retinol at night while our faces aren’t exposed to UV. 

3. Wear sunscreen everyday

Off the back of point #2, it’s important to always wear SPF everyday to protect your gorgeous new fresh skin against sun damage. When we start using active ingredients like retinol, our skin becomes more sensitive towards the sun. 

Plus, as the sun is the biggest cause of ageing, you’re future-proofing your face against UV-induced fine lines. 

Think of sunscreen as your daytime anti-ageing defence. When the sun goes down, it’s retinol’s turn to take over on the night shift!

4. Incorporate other nourishing and hydrating products into your routine 

To help reduce any side effects caused by retinol use, try adding in ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and nourishing face oils into your routine. 

After applying your serum at night, pop on a hydrating moisturiser, night cream or overnight mask over the top to lock in moisture. 

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