Hey guys, Sandra Lee, M.D. (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), here!

I see you’ve found The Pretty Pimple — I hope you’re enjoying the articles and learning something new! I’ve heard your requests for effective, acne-fighting products, and that’s why I’m so excited to introduce SLMD Skincare to you guys. This line exists to provide solutions for the skincare concerns you popaholics have always asked me about. These products bring together the most effective, blemish-banishing ingredients, so you can treat your skin with clinical confidence.

xo, Sandra

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Are Retinol Products Dangerous?

Shampoo, rinse, repeat. Apply to clean skin. Use sparingly. These simple instructions are meant to make it easy to get the very best from a beauty product. But not all products are created equal, and not all manufacturers make it clear to consumers when they should be following those overly simplified instructions. What time of day should a product be applied? How many times per day is appropriate? What other ingredients should, or shouldn’t, the product be combined with?

These questions are incredibly pertinent when it comes to retinol — especially nowadays as the ingredient has become increasingly popular and is being used in a slew of skin care.

What is retinol?

First, let’s understand what retinol is and how it works. Retinol is derived from vitamin A and has been used for decades to treat acne and decrease signs of aging, mainly sun damage, fine lines and pigmentation. Retinol itself is a reformulated, weaker version of prescription-strength tretinoin. Both tretinoin and retinol instigate cell turnover, which exposes new, delicate skin but can also cause dryness and irritation in the complexion. In fact, retinol was created because patients were having adverse reactions to the robust tretinoin formula and needed something gentler.

A powerful, effective ingredient, retinol is well-loved by many people, and for good reason. It’s most commonly found in nighttime serums and creams, yet it’s beginning to turn up in a variety of foundations, lip products, sunscreens, and cleansers. But if retinol is so great, what’s the problem? Retinol is not meant to be used during the day!

Why can’t I use retinol any time of day?

You should only be applying retinol at night. Actually, retinol has the exact opposite effect on the skin if used during the day. Because of the delicate new skin retinol helps to form, it makes the complexion more vulnerable to the sun. Some formulations contain retinols and SPF, but these are misleading, as retinol can make the skin susceptible to sun damage even when an SPF is worn.

Retinol also doesn’t do well when exposed to sunlight and air. Anything derived from vitamin A is likely to break down in daylight or with oxygen exposure, which is why the best retinol products are packaged in opaque, tightly sealed tubes.

The use of retinol in daytime products is especially concerning when it comes to lip balms or lipsticks. Our lips are made of extremely thin skin, therefore they’re far more prone to damage. Any lipstick that contains retinol and promises to reduce fine lines on your lips simply should not be trusted.

Don’t get us wrong, retinol is an all-star ingredient, and can be fabulous for the complexion when used properly. But if you’re using a retinol-based product, it’s best to follow these simple instructions: apply retinol only at night, before heading to bed. Avoid daytime use of retinol or vitamin A skin products — they can create even more dryness, redness and irritation!

  1. Dr Pimple Popper,
    There are so many products on the market I wouldn’t know where to go to get products for my mature, combination skin. I use your products and have seen a great improvement as far as breakouts, blackheads and clarity of my skin. However, I have crinkly skin and dark circle under eyes. My question is – will you be adding more products to your line for these type of ageing problems?

  2. Hi, I just started using retinoids for the last 2 weeks. Before I was using salicylic acid pads. I haven’t been using spf because I use the retinoid at night. Do I still need to use spf in the morning? I figured the retinoid serum rubs off on my pillow. I don’t rinse my face with water in the mornings because it dries out my face and moisturizers break me out. I just use face towel to wipe away the water around my mouth when I brush my teeth. Should I rinse my face to remove all the retinoid and would that be enough so I wouldn’t have to use spf?

    1. C. Tor. As a licensed esthetician, I would let yoy know a couple of things! Washing your face and moisturizing twice a day, is the bread and butter of any skincare regimen. You need to find a light weight moisturizer, that will not break you out but also balances and replenishes your acid mantle (outer most layer of skin) after being cleansed. Also, I implore you to wear spf while using a retinoid or any intensive exfoliating product, as you are creating baby new skin and the sun is going to not only undo, but add further damage to your skin if you are not protecting it.

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