How to Safely Use Retinol in the Summer

Retinol is one of the anti-aging holy grails, alongside Vitamin C and sunscreen usage, yet oftentimes used the most intermittently. Misconceptions surrounding when and how to use retinol circulate on the Internet and people tend to discontinue use of retinol all together throughout summer, but that can do more harm than good for your anti-aging routine.

Retinol is a marathon, not a sprint, and should be used year-round to get all the benefits (imagine getting in shape all year long, just to stop your progress in the hot weather months). When we’re out vacationing and spending time in the sun, there are ways to get your retinol usage in, in a safe way.

Lower your retinol dosage.

Lowering your retinol dosage can help maintain your progress as minor upkeep. Think of it as picking up small messes around the house throughout the week, rather than one deep clean. It helps you keep that step in your routine and still allows your skin to rapidly exfoliate and reap the benefits in a gentler way. We recommend Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 for an effective, yet gentle retinol cream.

Discontinue use three days before and after sunny trips.

By stopping retinol usage before your beach vacations, it can help prevent potential damage to your skin, like darkened hyperpigmentation, excess dryness, and hypersensitivity to the sun. If it’s actively in-use while you’re at the beach or in the sun, you risk dealing a lot of damage to the skin because of the exfoliating action. Waiting a few days after returning from your trip can also greatly benefit your skin. Sometimes our skin gets tired from traveling and from the excess sun exposure, so allowing it some recoup time will be beneficial. If you’re sunburned from your trip, refrain from using retinol until your skin is fully healed… and add a few extra days, just in case.


Amp up the sun protection.

Sun protection is the number one way to protect your skin from aging, with or without retinol usage. While you’re using retinol during summer, be extra diligent about your sunscreen. If you’re out taking walks, put on your SPF 50. We recommend sticking with sunscreen creams and lotions, as opposed to sprays, as creams will provide more even and controlled coverage and allow your sunscreen to absorb into the skin for at least 15 minutes before heading out on any excursions. A lightweight sunscreen like Skinceuticals Light Moisture UV Defense SPF 50 works great for the face and body and adds moisture to prevent the skin from drying out from sun exposure. While at the beach, be sure to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or every hour if you’re in the water. If you plan on being active, a sport sunscreen like Skinceuticals Sport UV Defense SPF 50 will be more effective, as they will be more water-resistant.

Another way to keep up with your sun protection is by wearing wide-brimmed hats and lightweight long sleeves, when able.

To learn more about retinol and whether or not it’s right for you, speak to any of our estheticians for a more in-depth skincare analysis.

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