What you need to know about RETINOL and how to start using it effectively and safely!

by Ruta

Today, let’s spend some time on the topic of retinol, which is considered one of the most essential ingredients in skin care.

I’m 44, mom²👨‍👩‍👧‍👧. A former Los Angeles beautician🇺🇸, now living in🇪🇺. I had a terrible skin and these are my BEAUTY & SKINCARE secrets! Also, you can find my new beauty book here.

This topic is very complicated, but you need to understand it. Retinol is considered the queen of skincare products and has been the subject of many research and scientific studies.

Retinols are becoming more and more popular every year. There is a large number of products that contain retinol, and choosing which one is right for you can be a challenge.

There is no specified age at which to start using retinol. However, it is well-established that retinol combats:

  1. Wrinkles
  2. Acne
  3. Pigment

If you have at least one of these problems, start using retinol.

What does this ingredient do? It simply accelerates skin regeneration. You probably already know that the skin regenerates more and more slowly as the years go by. When this happens, getting rid of acne, pigmentation, and other problems becomes more difficult. With the help of retinol, the skin sheds old cells faster and produces new and fresh ones more quickly.

How can I find a product that does everything it promises?

How can I decide which one is right for me? How should I use it properly, so I don’t have an unwanted reaction?

Keep reading. I will answer all these questions and more.

While living in the US, I asked my doctor for a prescription. I wanted the most potent and effective retinol. Unfortunately, I got the opposite result because I didn’t know everything about this ingredient at the time. I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

Retinoids are also known as retina-A, retinol, retinoic acid, retinal, and retinoic ester. I don’t want to bore you with long medical terms and derivations, but here’s what you need to understand: retin-A is a broad term (say, vegetables). More specific would be retinol (for example, broccoli), retinal (for example, spinach), and retinoic ester (for example, tomato). They all have in common that they are all derived from the vitamin A molecule.

1. The strongest is retinoic acid, which is not available in Europe. I don’t recommend starting with it because it can severely irritate the skin.

2. The second strongest is retinal, which can be hard to find.

3. The next level, and the most common, is retinol.

4. The lightest and mildest are retinol esters and other varieties.


  1. If you have very sensitive, thin skin with prominent capillaries, then esters will be just right.
  2. Retinol will work for most at first.

How does it work? Once on the skin, it goes through steps: first, retinol turns into retinal, and then retinoic acid. This pathway weakens the retinol through the stages, and the acid reaching the skin is not as strong but still active. Retinol is designed this way to make it less irritating to the skin.

I’m currently using CeraVe retinol. I also recommend Drunk Elephant, Neutrogena, Paula`s Choice, and Skinceuticals. Many women ask me about The Ordinary’s retinol. They’re not bad, but I don’t like that it is oil-based. Maybe it will work for you.

Retinol will not work immediately. It will take at least three months, and maybe even 6 or 12 months, to see any effect.

But results will come if you use a good product. If you buy a cream with a drop of retinol, don’t expect to see any effect. The product will be too weak.


  1. Apply only to dry, washed skin. (CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser works well).
  2. Do not overdo it with the amount—a pea size will be enough initially. Dab the product on your face and then smooth it out nicely with your fingers, rubbing it in a little. Do not touch the eye area at the beginning.
  3. Apply esters three evenings a week. Apply retinol twice a weekly.

My skin is used to retinoic acid since I’ve been using this ingredient for about 20 years. Be careful if you haven’t introduced your skin to retinol yet.

Consistency is the key to results. The thing with retinol is that you can’t use it, then forget about it and throw it away. With this ingredient, you must continue to use the product. The skin’s renewal cycle must not only be ignited but also sustained.


  1. You can apply retinol to dry skin and after two minutes, apply cream on top. This will dilute the concentration.
  2. You can make a retinol sandwich: apply cream, wait until it is absorbed, dab retinol on top of that, and then after five minutes, apply cream on the retinol.

Important: Retinol should not be mixed with vitamin C, nor should it be used after acid procedures!

The morning after retinol, check your skin. It may become cracked a day or two after application. What happened? The skin received an order for repairs, and with the help of retinol, it worked hard and got tired. Now it needs some support. Respect your skin and give it some love for the great job it did overnight. Grab a moisturizing serum with hyaluronic acid or snail secretion. Pamper and moisturize the skin.

Warning: Retinols make the skin very sensitive to the sun, so sunscreen with SPF is a MUST.

I really hope you dare to add retinol to your skin care routine. This is the queen ingredient, and it deserves your attention.

Until the next time,


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