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 – the latest must-have in everyone’s skincare routine. If you haven’t started using it, it is likely that you have looked into using it.

We are all quick to jump on the latest trend, especially when it comes to beauty products, but are we really reaping the benefits of them without doing any proper research?

When it comes to products like retinol, to really notice the difference we need to not just know how to use them properly, but also when we should start using them properly.

To most of those people lucky enough to be under 25, an anti-aging product seems completely pointless. However, when it comes to preventing fine lines and wrinkles, should we be starting much younger and is it ever too late to bother?

Today i am going to tell you all about the benefits of incorporating retinol into your skincare routine and just how soon you need to start doing so in order to see some life-changing differences not only to the youth of your skin, but the overall glow!

woman with brown hair and wearing silver necklace

A Guide on How and When to Start Using Retinol – Using Retinol in Your Skincare Routine

Retinol is a fantastic addition to any skincare routine for a number of reasons. Retinol works by increasing cell turnover and providing vitamin C. This leaves your skin more full, plump, radiant, and even.

Retinol has many benefits:

  1. Treats acne
  2. Clears pores
  3. Targets blemishes
  4. Creates an even base
  5. Reduces fine-lines and wrinkles

However, another thing retinol does do is make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Using retinol if you spend a lot of time in the sun can be dangerous. The cell turnover means that your skin will be less resilient to the sun, and so it is recommended to use retinol as part of a night routine and to avoid spending a lot of time in the sun or using sunbeds.

Can you be too young to use retinol?

When it comes to many beauty products, particularly for skincare, anyone who has hit their twenties is never too young. Moisturizing from your teens is a fantastic way to keep your skin hydrated and help prevent it from drying out and aging faster. This is exactly why we use sun protection from a young age and keep our skin as healthy as possible.

Retinol is no different. Retinol, whilst being advertised primarily as an anti-aging product, is also fantastic for fighting breakouts. It can be medically recommended for acne treatment. As many of you will know, acne is a skin condition that teenagers are most prone to suffering from. This means that even those still attending school may benefit from retinol treatments. 

This suggests that retinol is safe for young, acne-prone teenagers and is therefore safe to use long before you are due to see ay signs of aging.

Not only can it help to tackle those years of bad skin that many suffer from when they are younger, but it helps to keep your skin healthy. Wrinkles will not only be prevented, but it helps to make existing wrinkles more shallow.

Is it OK to use retinol in your 20s?

Retinol increases collagen production. Because of this, it is a product that is more beneficial to those who are older and no longer produce as much collagen. However this is not to say it isn’t beneficial for those in their twenties.

Whilst it may not have as many clear and obvious effects, due to it not needing to, it helps as a boost to your collagen and gets your skin prepared for the years that you may need to start using a collagen support product.

Not only does retinol help with acne and wrinkles, but retinol is proved to even out skin and textures by unclogging pores. Those in their twenties are still full of hormones and can be as subject to bad skin as those in their teens. Using a product like retinol will help your skin stay clearer, giving you a glow that other products cannot bring.

Using collagen in your twenties will bring you many benefits. Retinol comes in many strengths. So beginning at a weaker strength when you are younger will help prepare your skin for when it may need a stronger retinol to begin working.

Is 21 too young to use retinol?

Beginning retinol in your twenties is probably the best time to start. This will help create a strong and healthy cell turnover, keeping your skin youthful and glowing.

At a later age, you may have already formed fine lines and wrinkles. Whilst retinol will help these to become more shallow and less visible, it will not entirely remove any wrinkles that are too deep.

Starting retinol in your early twenties will help prevent these wrinkles from developing. So overall it will have a better, long-lasting impact when it comes to keeping your skin looking young and radiant. 

Can you start using retinol too early?

As mentioned, you can use retinol from younger ages. Whilst it will help prevent wrinkles, it will also help to clear and purify your skin. Like any skincare, those who are very young probably should not use retinol. This is not due to retinol itself, but using any beauty products on very young skin would not be highly recommended as it does not need it.

Younger people, particularly young teens and children, are still producing a lot of moisture and hydration, including a lot of collagen. So the use of serums and moisturizers is far from necessary.

If a younger person does attempt to use retinol, they may experience harsher side-effects at the start. But this can happen to anyone. Ultimately retinol is not damaging to any skin if used at the correct strength.

Is it bad to use retinol at a young age?

As mentioned, it is not bad to use retinol at a young age. But it depends on the use and how young.

For anti-aging, beginning retinol in your twenties is the ideal time. For acne treatment, beginning retinol as soon as you are recommended to do so is the ideal time.

The one thing that is important to remember is the way your skin will react to sunlight if you are using retinol. Starting retinol at a younger age means your skin cell turnover will be even more rampant than those of an older age.

This means that you not only need a lower strength, but also means that you need to take extra care when out in the sun. your skin will be even more prone to burning and may become more sensitive.

Using retinol from a young age and over a long period of time has not been proven to have any negative side effects. However, be sure to use SPF protection alongside it. You should do this regardless if you spend time in the sun. This will help keep your skin safe and healthy.

Can a 13 year old use retinol?

A 13 year old can use retinol. However it is only recommended that someone of this age use it if it has been recommended by a professional and is used for a particular treatment.

At 13, your skin cell turnover is still extremely high and so the need for retinol is not as necessary unless it is for treating conditions such as acne. 

Can I use retinol at 18?

You can use retinol at 18. It is recommended to start on a lower strength. Your skin cell turnover is still very high and so using a strong retinol may cause irritation and high sensitivity. Be sure to use other products alongside retinol to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. 

Which retinol is best for beginners?

Retinol comes in a range of 0.25% to 1% if bought over the counter. This is a variation in strength. For those who are beginning their retinol journey, starting with 0.25% is recommended. This allows your skin to become used to retinol and eases you in.

Starting with a stronger retinol can cause irritation and sensitivity to skin. So it is better to play it safe. Whilst you may not see any drastic changes from a lower strength, it will still be benefiting your skin without any harsh itchiness, dryness, or redness.

Of course, if you are prescribed retinol for acne treatment, the strength will be higher. You should use whatever has been medically recommended.

You can up the strength over time if you deem it necessary. It just means your skin won’t have any noticeably bad reactions to it if it is done subtly.

woman in black tank top

Final Thoughts

Retinol is a fantastic addition to a skincare routine and you can begin incorporating it at many different ages.

For acne-prone skin, starting retinol at a younger age may really benefit you. For those looking to prevent fine-lines and wrinkles, starting in your twenties can be the ideal time for this.

If you are older and looking into a retinol journey, this is also completely fine. You may have already started to notice wrinkles or fine lines. But retinol will help to fill these out which will overall help to make them more shallow and appear less visible. 

Retinol can cause skin sensitivity for a number of reasons. For younger skin, you will need a lower strength. For those starting their journey, you should also start with a lower strength and ease yourself in.

Always keep your skin moisturized and remember to use an SPF everyday if you are on retinol. If you notice any redness or irritation in the first couple of weeks, this should begin to fade as your skin grows used to it. If not, you should seek professional help. Put a hold on using the retinol product until you know it is safe for your skin.

Overall, retinol is a fantastic product! It is never too early or too late to start your journey. Keep your skin safe, and before you know it you will be rocking a smooth, glowing, youthful, and blemish-free complexion!

Related reading about retinol:


Is vitamin C or retinol better?

Whilst vitamin C serums tend to focus on collagen synthesis, skin tone and clarity to shift pigmentation, retinol works by speeding up cell turnover. This means that retinol works extremely well when it comes to clearing out the skin and treating more serious conditions such as acne.
Vitamin C brings many benefits to your skin. However retinol contains vitamin C, whilst also providing a number of other benefits.
Vitamin C is a slightly calmer, more gentle serum to use on your skin. Retinol will work exactly the same but with more of a boost.

At what age should I use retinol?

This really depends on your use for retinol. If you are using retinol to prevent acne, you should start using it as soon as you need to. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe you retinol of a strength that is not available over the counter.
When it comes to using retinol medically, there isn’t much of an age limit. If it is professionally recommended then there would be no reason to hold off on it. Although it may cause dryness and redness in the first couple of weeks, there is no evidence to suggest that retinol is dangerous for those who are slightly younger.
If you are using retinol to clear up your skin in general, again, there is not much limit on this. Many of us begin using skincare products when we are in our teens, and retinol is just an addition to this. However, it can be slightly harsh on your skin as you become accustomed to it, and so those with more vulnerable, youthful skin should start on a lower strength retinol.
If you do not suffer from particularly bad skin or blocked pores, using retinol is still entirely safe. However, using a lower strength will do more than enough for your job without causing any harsh side-effects.