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How to Use Retinol for Men Without Causing Skin Irritation

How to Use Retinol for Men Without Causing Skin Irritation


Retinol is one of the best anti-aging ingredients for your skin. It boosts cell turnover and increases collagen production, leading to brighter, more youthful skin. Few other ingredients can rival its wrinkle-fighting abilities.

That all sounds great - and it is - but retinol does come with one important caveat. This powerful ingredient can be a bit too powerful if used improperly. Flaking, itch, and redness are common in guys who start using retinol for men without understanding how to avoid this kind of irritation.

Want to use retinol face cream for its anti-aging benefits but skip the irritation? Smart man. We're here to help.


Start Slowly with Retinol Cream

Your skin needs time to get accustomed to the powerful effects of retinol. That means that you should slowly introduce retinol cream into your skincare routine. Patience is critical if you want to avoid irritation.

Most men do well by starting with retinol cream 2-3 times per week in the evenings only. Pay attention to how your skin looks and feels after applying your retinol cream for men. Take note of any sensitivity, redness, or flaking. If those issues are not bothering you and your skin tolerates this after a few weeks of consistent use, you can begin to increase to 3-4 times per week after that to increase your anti-aging results.


Increase Carefully

Your skin needs to slowly build a tolerance to retinol cream in order to prevent irritation. While you may be fine right now using retinol sparingly, any increase puts you at risk for new irritation. In order to avoid this, increase how often you apply retinol cream for men slowly and carefully. What's the best way to do that?

  • Wait a few weeks before considering any increase
  • Step up in very small increments
  • Don't use additional retinol if you notice any signs of irritation


Less Is More

Don't rush to find your maximum level of tolerable retinol just to get good results. With this ingredient - and often with skincare in general - the rule is "less is more". Even if you don't have typically sensitive or irritation-prone skin, why push your skin to the limit and risk developing issues that are preventable and unnecessary?

You don't have to only use one kind of anti-aging cream to get the greatest benefit. In fact, combining a retinol cream with other natural anti-aging formulas that do not contain retinol is a smart way to apply the less is more rule.

For example, you can use our Retinol Face Moisturizer Cream 1-2 times each week and on the other days swap it our for our Revitalizing Anti-Aging Cream. The latter is made with proven-effective anti-aging ingredients like MSM and DMAE that are highly tolerable and won't irritate your skin.


Buffer Retinol Cream with Moisturizer

If you're new to using retinol cream for men or have experienced irritation in the past when using retinol, buffering is the best technique for you. Buffering means you mix a little retinol cream and a little moisturizer together in your hand and apply them both together. This dilutes your retinol, gives your skin extra moisture, and minimizes your risk of developing retinol burn. For example, you can use our Retinol Face Moisturizer Cream together with our Daily Essential Face Moisturizer.

Yes, diluting your retinol cream for men with a little moisturizer will make it slightly less effective. But that's OK, especially when you're first getting started with this powerful ingredient. Buffer for a couple weeks, make sure your skin is tolerating the retinol well, and then try your retinol cream without buffering once a week while taking note of the results. Remember, you'll ultimately look much better and feel more confident if you go easy on your skin and are patient with this process.


Use Retinol Face Cream with an SPF Cream

Retinol increases your skin's sensitivity to UV light, so we recommend that you apply our Retinol Face Moisturizer Cream at night. If you choose to use it during the day, be sure to layer an SPF cream over top of it once your skin has dried.

One of the biggest sources of skin irritation for guys using retinol cream for men is sun damage. That's because they assume they'll be fine without SPF and slather on the retinol with no knowledge of how it affects their skin. Bad move - and one we do not recommend. For the best results, use our Daily Defense Face Moisturizer with SPF 20. Its zinc oxide formula is gentle, safe, and absorbs completely with no streaks. Plus, it offers additional skin-hydrating benefits thanks to ingredients like green tea extract and vitamin E. 


Pause Retinol Use If Needed

What should you do if you start to notice the telltale signs of retinol irritation, like redness, flaking, peeling, and itch?

Stop using it. Period.

You may be able to start using retinol again after your skin recovers. But you can't go back to retinol while your skin is still irritated. That will only lead to even worse problems later. Be smart, be patient, and be realistic. You will still be able to get anti-aging results from other, gentler products while you allow your skin to come down from its irritation. When you're ready to start using retinol cream for men again, go slowly, buffer it with moisturizer, and back off whenever you notice signs of sensitivity.

Remember, the whole reason you're using retinol cream is to make your skin look better. So be smart and avoid irritation. A slow, patient, long-term approach to retinol for anti-aging (and skincare in general) will ensure you minimize wrinkles and age spots without having to struggle with retinol-related irritation.

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