There’s a reason retinol is still a star in the skin care world and the go-to recommendation of derms everywhere, even after more than three decades in the mainstream market: it works. “I always say if there are only two things you’re going to use as part of your regimen, it should be sun protection and retinol,” says Peterson Pierre, MD, a dermatologist in Thousand Oaks, Calif. .

Retinol is the cousin of prescription retinoids, such as tretinoin. Both are retinoids and therefore both a derivative of vitamin A. “Tretinoin was first used primarily to treat acne, until we saw that it also improved tone and texture and stimulates collagen, which helps reduce fine lines and other signs of aging, ”he explains. However, tretinoin and other prescription retinoids are not suitable for everyone; they can make the skin extremely dry, red and sensitive, and they require a dermatological visit to get an Rx. Retinol has become and continues to be popular because it is an effective alternative.

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While retinol can still cause skin discomfort, including initial dryness, redness, and peeling, it’s usually not as bad as with the Rx version. Plus, most people can manage them by making a few simple changes to your skin care routine. Here’s where to start:

Start slowly incorporating retinol into your routine

You’re probably used to applying treatment products daily, or even twice a day, but when it comes to retinol, slow and steady wins the race. “One of the things retinol does is help exfoliate gently; it accelerates the natural peeling process of the skin of its top layer so that the softer, smoother skin underneath is visible, ”explains Dr Pierre. “So people naturally think that if a little is good, more is better. But this is not the case. Practice the hold: apply only a pea-sized amount (yes, only that amount all over your face, evenly distributing it over your cheeks and forehead before rubbing). The key is to slowly build your skin’s tolerance.

If you’re new to pure retinol, Mary Kay has got you covered. The iconic beauty brand has just launched the Mary Kay Clinical SolutionsMT Retinol 0.5 Set, which understands its Mary Kay Clinical SolutionsTM Retinol 0.5 and Mary Kay Clinical SolutionsTM Calm + Restore Facial Milk. The retinol product is powered by high concentration pure retinol, so it is important that your skin gradually gets used to it. That’s why they developed their unique retinization process in collaboration with dermatologists to simplify the search for an effective retinol with minimal discomfort. Follow it below to acclimate your skin to this powerful skin care ingredient.

  • Weeks 1 + 2: 1x per week, the same evening, diluted with Calm + Restore Face Milk
  • Weeks 3 + 4: 1x per week, the same evening, followed by Calm + Restore Face Milk
  • Weeks 5 + 6: 2x per week, followed by Calm + Restore Facial Milk, as needed
  • Weeks 7 + 8: 3x-5x per week, followed by Calm + Restore Facial Milk, as needed
  • Weeks 9+: Once the skin is retinized, use is based on skin tolerance. The product can be used as often as every night if desired.

    Try: Mary Kay Clinical SolutionsTM Retinol 0.5 set

    Fill up on hydration

    Since it tends to dry out the skin, combine your retinol with moisturizers, such as Calm + Restore Clinical Solutions Mary Kay Facial Milk. This product is not only used throughout the retinization process, but it can also be used to nourish and soothe the skin when needed, even when the skin is retinized. “Moisturizers containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalene or ceramides help keep the skin hydrated, minimize irritation and reduce flaking,” explains Dr. Pierre. “If your skin is very sensitive and becomes irritated even by following all the proper steps, try applying moisturizer first, then retinol, then more moisturizer – so it’s like a retinol sandwich – that worked for my patients. ” He also recommends using a gentle hydrating mask three times a week if needed.

    Try: Calm + Restore Clinical Solutions Mary Kay Facial Milk

    Make SPF a must

    Mary Kay® CC Broad Spectrum SPF 15 * Sunscreen

    Sun protection should always be a non-negotiable part of your routine, but it’s even more critical when using retinol. We even recommend doubling up: sunscreen or SPF moisturizer, followed by foundation or tinted coverage with SPF. Why is this so important? Retinol’s ability to remove the top layer of skin cells makes the skin more sensitive to the sun and more vulnerable to sun damage, says Dr. Pierre. “Also remember why you are using retinol in the first place, probably for smoother, clearer skin and less wrinkles,” he says. “If the skin bakes in the sun, no matter how much retinol you use, it won’t counteract this constant damage. You need to protect your investment.

    Try: Mary Kay TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Day Cream with Mary Kay® CC Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen layered for coverage that has extra SPF protection.

    Dab on a moisturizer for the eyes

    The skin around the eyes tends to be thinner, drier, and more sensitive than elsewhere on your face. As such, even mild retinols can be irritating in this area, explains Dr. Pierre. Solution: Dab a moisturizer on the eyes first to help protect the area and keep it hydrated. Think of it as a protective barrier between the fragile skin around your eyes and the potent retinol cream. Make sure to always apply eye cream before retinol to avoid product transfer to the eye area.

    TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Renewing Eye Cream

    Try: TimeWise Repair® Volu-Firm® Eye Renewal Cream Mary Kay

    Temporarily put away other skin treatments

    While your skin is adjusting to retinol, the only other things you should apply include a gentle cleanser, moisturizers, and SPF. “You don’t want to ask your skin to do too much at once,” says Dr. Pierre. “Also, if you put on four or five different things and your skin is on fire, you won’t know which one is causing the problem.” Be especially careful to avoid glycolic, salicylic and other acids as well as manual scrubs. One of the benefits of retinol is the way it sheds the top layer of dead skin cells. Additional exfoliation with hydroxyl acids or even a gentle scrub only leads to potential additional skin discomfort. If your skin is peeling, only use a soft, damp washcloth in gentle circular motions to gently remove visible dead skin, Pierre explains.

    Add antioxidants

    TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Night Cream – Normal / Dry

    Once the skin has acclimatized to the retinol and you are able to use it every night without major irritation or tenderness, gradually reintroduce other treatment products, one at a time. One thing to try: a lotion or serum that contains vitamin C, vitamin E, or other antioxidants. “When the skin is exposed to the sun, it causes free radicals which, if left unchecked, can attack collagen and lead to discoloration and other signs of aging. Antioxidants provide additional protection against this damage, ”explains Dr. Pierre.

    Try: TimeWise® Age Minimize 3D® Night Cream Mary Kay

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