Hey Beautiful! This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Retinol is a fantastic product that is quickly growing in the beauty industry. Whilst people are continuously looking for new ways to fight fine lines and wrinkles, retinol has grown in popularity due to helping with this. Alongside fighting blemishes and uneven skin, in some cases retinol can even be used to treat acne.

It is an easy, accessible product that can be bought over the counter or prescribed medically. However, how to use retinol is one thing that leaves many people confused.

Retinol comes in many forms, but is most commonly used as a serum. 

Having a good skincare routine is one thing, but knowing the correct order for this is an entire different question in itself.

Not only can it be confusing to follow the correct order and steps, but knowing the point at which you can begin applying makeup on top of your routine is just another thing for us to question.

Well, have no fear, in this article I am going to tell you just when to use your retinol and when you can apply makeup after using retinol order to not only reap the benefits of your products, but to ensure you can go about your daily life whilst using it as well!

portrait of woman face

Can I put make up on top of retinol?

For retinol to have its best effect, you should allow it time to soak in and do its job. Retinol should be applied during your usual skincare routine. It is best to do this at night. Your skin can fully absorb the products and allow the products the time they need to work effectively.

Retinol should be applied to clean, fresh, exfoliated skin so that it can work itself into the pores. It should then be left to soak up before applying any other product. If you do plan to apply makeup, it is best that you hold off on using retinol until you remove your makeup and have time to let the retinol work its magic.

Do you apply anything after retinol?

If you are using retinol in your regular skincare routine then you should consider allowing time for the retinol to soak into your skin and then it is recommended to follow with your moisturizer.

Due to the nature of retinol and the high level of vitamin A in retinol, it can cause dryness and redness. So keeping your skin hydrated whilst using retinol can be crucial to keep your skin healthy.

Retinol can also cause your skin to become sensitive to the sun and UV rays. If you are exposed to the sun a lot, or you tend to use sunbeds, then retinol may not be the best product for you. However, you can safely use retinol if you also continue to use a strong SPF moisturizer afterwards.

Applying retinol at night is also more beneficial. It not only allows time for the products to work, but it allows your skin to develop some tolerance before being exposed to any UV.

Top Tips for Wearing Makeup While on Tretinoin

When using any form of retinol, the key to also wearing makeup is to not apply your makeup instantly after.

  1. Use retinol in a nightly routine and allow it to absorb in completely.
  2. Use a moisturizer after your retinol. This’ll keep the skin hydrated and provides an extra layer of protection between the retinol and the makeup. 
  3. Allow your skin a few weeks to adapt to the use of retinol before using heavy makeup.
  4. If you notice any irritation from retinol then lower the strength.
  5. Keep your skincare routine separate from your makeup application by allowing a significant amount of time before applying either.

Applying Retinol with Makeup – Not the Best idea

Like any skincare products, makeup should not be applied immediately after retinol application. Allowing your skin the time to absorb the retinol will help advance the impact of the retinol. This will also allow you to make the most out of your products.

Using a moisturizer and SPF alongside retinol will help keep your skin protected and hydrated. If you do experience dryness and redness after the first few weeks of retinol, consider using a lower strength. Do not apply makeup if your skin is feeling sensitive.

Using retinol at night helps protect the retinol from reacting with UV. This also allows your skin to return to its normal state before taking on any extra products.

So, applying makeup when using retinol is absolutely fine. Just make sure you are patient with the retinol and allow your skincare products the time to work their magic!

Related reading: Can you overuse Retinol?


Can you wear retinol under makeup?

No. retinol should not be part of your makeup routine. This will reduce the effects of the retinol and will be a waste of your product. Use retinol as part of a nightly skincare routine for best results. This allows your skin to settle and will create a smooth, blemish-free surface for makeup application the next day.

Can I wear makeup after retinol peel?

If you do experience any sensitivity from retinol, it is important to allow your skin to heal before using other products, such as makeup. If you are experiencing sensitivity or irritation from retinol, you should consider using a weaker strength of retinol.
It is typical for skin to react harshly to retinol in the first few weeks of using it, and so in this time you should hold off on applying lots of makeup. However, once your skin starts to adapt to the retinol usage you should be fine to go on and use make up.
Again, allow your skin to take full advantage of retinol and use it in a nightly routine or in the mornings on those days when you do not plan to apply anything else. Applying make up straight after retinol will cause the retinol to be removed slightly and will not allow it to take its full effect.