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Retinol is quickly growing as one of the most must-have skincare products on the shelf. If you haven’t started using it, you have probably considered using it, and if you have never heard of it then you should probably read about it!

Retinol works by combining both vitamin A and collagen to help not only clear your skin, but fight fine lines and wrinkles, and can even be used as an acne treatment.

Retinol comes in many different strengths, and the key to a successful retinol journey is knowing the correct strength for your skin type and allowing your skin the chance to adapt to this new product.

Once you have secured the right retinol for you, the next thing to figure out is where retinol sits in your skincare routine.

Retinol most commonly comes in a serum, and so it is quick and easy to apply. However, when to apply retinol is the key question.

If this is something you haven’t yet figured out, then you are in the right place. Today I am going to tell you when you should be using retinol in your skincare routine and how you can ensure you make the most out of the product, helping to enhance the overall outcome and effect of the product!

retinol and moisturizer

Do you put moisturizer on after retinol?

So, should you moisturize after retinol? Absolutely.

Retinol works by enhancing cell turnover, meaning that the production of new skin cells on your face is speeded up, helping to clear pores and keep your skin blemish free, more even, and less likely to develop blackheads.

It also keeps your skin looking fuller, shinier, and more plump. This is the part that not only helps to tackle the development of fine lines, but helps fill out your wrinkles, encouraging them to become more shallow and less visible. This is what makes retinol one of the most effective anti-aging products out there!

However, the cell turnover also means that your skin can be prone to dryness, irritation, and sensitivity. This is particularly likely in the first few weeks of using retinol as your skin develops a resilience to the product. 

It is important to keep your skin hydrated more than ever when using retinol. This’ll ensure that these new skin cells don’t become dry or irritated. Your skin will also become more sensitive to UV rays. So it is not only a good idea to use retinol in a bedtime routine, but to also use an SPF moisturizer to help protect your skin as much as possible.

Should you let retinol dry before moisturizer?

As mentioned, it is recommended to use retinol in a nighttime routine. This allows your skin to absorb the retinol and reap the benefits of the product. Your skin will develop more of a tolerance to the product if it is allowed to absorb it properly. Make sure your skin is not covered in makeup or other cosmetics in the meantime.

However, following up your retinol with a moisturizer is slightly different, and is in fact recommended. So, now that you know to use a moisturizer with your retinol, what does thi mean for your routine and should you let retinol dry before moisturizer?

The simple answer is yes. Allowing each product in your skincare routine to fully dry means that your skin has absorbed the product and you will be making the most out of each individual product. 

Different ingredients in various products will have different effects. So mixing these may get in the way of certain products working on your skin. Like any serum in your routine, retinol should be applied first, allowed to dry, and then followed with a moisturizer.

Ending with a moisturizer means your skin is left to fully absorb and hydrate, whilst still taking in the benefits from the serum beforehand. 

How long after retinol can I apply moisturizer?

You should apply your moisturizer once your retinol has been worked into the skin and left to absorb.

This will usually take around 15 minutes, but will depend on the product and the amount you are using. Letting the retinol dry first means that your moisturizer will not mix with the retinol, nor take over the effects of the retinol. 


Final Thoughts

So, using a moisturizer, particularly one with SPF, can be extremely beneficial when using retinol. Whilst retinol is a fantastic product that can help treat various conditions, prevent aging, and leave your skin looking smooth and glowing, it can also cause dryness and irritation.

Keeping skin hydrated in any routine is crucial, but particularly when using products that enhance collagen and cell turnover. Fresh and new cells are more sensitive and so maintaining skincare health is vital.

Ensure you allow the retinol to soak into your skin so that it can work to its best potential. This will prevent your products from mixing and losing their impact,. This will also give your skin the time to take in everything you are applying.

Using retinol at nighttime is the best way to not only prevent sensitivity from UV, but to also allow time for you to really enhance and perfect your routine.

Patience is the key to a good skincare routine after all!

So, if you are on your retinol journey, or thinking about starting one, remember to use SPF to help protect your skin from the sun. But more importantly, keep your skin hydrated and moisturized to get the full effects!

Learn more about retinol here:

How Long Should You Wait to Apply Moisturizer After Retinol? – FAQs

How long does it take for retinol to absorb?

Usually around 10 to 15 minutes, but this will vary depending on your skin type, the product, and how much retinol you are using.

How long after retinol to apply hyaluronic acid?

You should wait for the retinol to completely dry before applying any form of moisturizer, including hyaluronic acid. This will usually take around 10 to 15 minutes but can vary.