Although retinoids offer multiple skin benefits, many derivatives are light-sensitive and unstable materials. Follow these usage tips for best results.
Apply in the evening. Retinoids are sensitive to sunlight and degrade in light, and they also can make the skin more sensitive to sunburn; therefore, retinoids are best applied at night. Counsel clients to pay extra attention to avoiding sun exposure or, at least, wear a good broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day while using retinoids.
Avoid irritating ingredients. Because retinoids can be irritating to the skin by themselves, it’s wise to avoid combining them with other potential irritants, such as benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol and salicylic acid.
Pay attention to packaging. The light-sensitive nature of retinoids makes packaging a key factor in the preparation and filling of a retinoid product. Retinol, for instance, is extremely unstable in heat, light and air, making an airless or aluminum tube with a narrow opening a good choice.
Stick with the program. Retinoids often create flakiness and redness among first-time users. Counsel clients to “pulse” their use by applying every other day to build up to daily use. Generally, it takes about three to six months of daily use to see the full effects of nonprescription retinoids.