It's no secret, retinol is a highly valued ingredient in skincare. It accelerates cell renewal to improve skin tone and texture, combat blemishes, restore radiance, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. However, there are many misconceptions about it, including the idea that it should be completely avoided during the summer due to its irritating nature. But what is the real story?
Should we stop using retinol in the summer?
- Is it possible to use retinol during the summer months?
- Is it better to start using retinol in summer or winter?
Is it possible to use retinol during the summer months?
The retinol is a type of retinoid that has quickly become a powerful, versatile active ingredient for a wide variety of skin issues. It is renowned for reducing the appearance of wrinkles, improving skin firmness and texture, and evening out irregular skin tone areas (brown spots). Despite its many skin benefits, its use is not without consequence. It can sometimes prove to be particularly irritating (retinoid dermatitis). Indeed, the "exfoliating" capabilities of retinol make the skin sensitive, as it promotes the renewal of skin cells. Consequently, most people using retinol will need to develop a tolerance over time.
There is a widespread belief about retinol that it should not be used during the summer. Some people are apprehensive about continuing its use in the summer. On the contrary, it is possible to use it daily at any time of the year, even during the summer. This misinformation may stem from the fear of exacerbating one's skin when it is already irritated. Indeed, retinol can make the skin slightly sensitive to the sun, but this does not mean that you should stop using it during the summer months. Moreover, according to research, there is no evidence to support claims of photo-allergy or phototoxicity with retinol.
However, certain precautions must be taken to continue benefiting from its virtues without damaging the skin and without suffering from side effects.
Adjust the frequency of use according to skin sensitivity: the risk of pigmentation can be an adverse effect of using retinol. Indeed, skins prone to melasma or dark phototypes, where irritations can trigger post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation marks, must adjust the application of retinol;
Properly hydrating your skin immediately after: retinol can dry out the skin, cause irritations and redness, particularly during the first month of use until the skin develops a tolerance. It is thus generally recommended to apply a moisturizing cream concurrently with the retinol to limit any potential dryness, flaking, or sensitivity that may occur and improve the comfort of the skin;
Pairing retinol with a broad-spectrum sunscreen: use retinol in conjunction with a sunscreen protection of at least SPF 30, although daily application is essential regardless of your skincare routine. It will help protect the skin from the effects of UV rays and limit the "risk of burning", while benefiting from the properties of retinol. For additional protection, it is also recommended to supplement your sunscreen use with wearing a hat, avoiding intense sunlight hours, and seeking shade;
Using retinol in the evening: it is not recommended to apply retinol before exposing yourself to the sun. Indeed, prolonged exposure to the sun can deactivate retinol to some extent, making them less effective. Using it in the evening has more to do with the effectiveness of the formula than with the damage it can cause to your skin. Morning or evening, you will not be spared from irritations.
Is it better to start using retinol in summer or winter?
If you are starting on retinol, it is recommended to begin during the fall months. In winter, dryness is typically the most challenging side effect of retinol to combat. During cold weather, dry wind and heaters can exacerbate it. That's why it's recommended to increase the use of moisturizing creams during this time of the year. On the other hand, in summer, people are generally more sensitive to the sun, which requires diligent use of sun protection products and other sun protection measures.
FU P. P. & al. Photodecomposition and phototoxicity of natural retinoids. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2005).
BERGE C. A. & al. Facilitating facial retinization through barrier improvement. Cutis (2006).
RUEDA M.-J. & al. Beneficial effect of a moisturizing cream as adjunctive treatment to oral isotretinoin or topical tretinoin in the management of acne. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2006).
POTTS A. & al. The phototoxic and photoallergy potential of clindamycin phosphate 1.2%/ tretinoin 0.025% gel for facial acne: results of two single-center, evaluator-blinded, randomized, vehicle-controlled phase 1 studies in healthy volunteers. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (2014).