Dr. Geetika Mittal Gupta Tells You Everything About Retinol

dr. geetika Mittal Gupta tells you everything you need to know about retinols

A vitamin A derivative, retinoids work by increasing collagen production as well as increasing the rate of skin cell turnover of keratinocytes (cells on the outermost layer of our skin.

Retinol For Acne, Ageing and Milia


Retinol or retinol derivatives such as Tretinoin, Tazarotene, Isotretinoin help treat acute acne and also decrease pore size. OTC formulas like Retinyl palmitate and Retinaldehyde are good to minimise signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinoids have a reputation for being harsh on your skin—you can expect some dryness, redness, and peeling so it’s essential to use the right retinol for your skin type and skin concern.


There’s also evidence that retinol can help manage milia: small, keratin-filled cysts that usually appear on the nose, under the eyes. Nightly use of prescription creams (low concentrations) have shown to have made a difference in treating milia too.

I will also be talking about some of my favourite retinol products and treatments at ISAAC Luxe.


Retinol is one of the buzzwords when it comes to skincare. But did you know that there are roughly 8 types of retinol? These work differently on your skin and also divided into OTC or over-the-counter buys as well as prescription only. Let’s dive a bit deeper. But remember, all retinol products are derivatives of vitamin A and are referred to as retinoids.

  1. Retinyl palmitate: This is the least potent OTC retinoid, ideal if you have sensitive skin and minimal signs of ageing. 
  2. Retinaldehyde: This is an OTC retinoid that’s slightly stronger than retinyl palmitate. Retinaldehyde has been shown to improve the feel of firmness and elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and rough skin. It is also better tolerated than Retinoic Acid.
  3. Retinoic Acid: Essentially, this is the active that is eventually broken down and absorbed by the skin. Less potent formulas do it gradually whereas prescription formulas come with retinoic acid.
  4. Retinol: This is the strongest ingredient found in OTC retinoid products. It’s also the umbrella label for all forms of Retinol.
  5. Tretinoin: This is a potent retinoid available by prescription only. It’s an active ingredient, so it doesn’t require any conversion after application on the skin.
  6. Tazarotene: This is the most powerful retinoid, available by prescription only.
  7. Isotretinoin: This prescription oral vitamin A derivative ingestible is used by dermatologists for treating aggressive acne. 
  8. Adapalene: Adapalene 0.1% gel is a recently approved over-the-counter retinoid that is anti-inflammatory and treats acne without irritating skin.
  9. Bakuchiol: Bakuchiol, an extract of the babchi plant, is one of the few retinol alternatives for anti-ageing and skin-brightening. It’s a less irritating alternative to retinol for anti-ageing benefits.

How to Introduce Retinol into your skincare routine

  1. Start with a lower retinoid concentration and increase the strength over time.
  2. Do a patch test on your arm or at the back of your ear to check for irritation.
  3. Apply it 1-2 times a week. The idea is to slowly introduce it in your skincare routine to allow your skin to get used to it. 

When Should You Apply Retinol?

  1. Apply retinol products only at nighttime. 
  2. Be consistent about using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA-UVB protection during the day. Retinol increases your sensitivity towards UV rays and also decreases the effectiveness of the product.

Combining Retinol With Other Actives And Ingredients

It is essential to know that every active ingredient has a different pH so you don’t want to cancel out the good work of those products. Here are some dos and don’ts of layering ingredients when using retinol. Remember, all these products can be distributed in your daily and weekly routine.

1. Niacinamide + Retinol: Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B (Vitamin B3) and works almost as a barrier that helps lower skin irritation when combined or used with retinol. Yes, you can apply them together at the same time.
2. Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol: Combining a hydrating agent like HA is absolutely fine with retinol or retinol-derived product. It also may decrease irritation.

1. AHA+ Retinol: The day you’re exfoliating your face with Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid), it’s best to avoid using retinol or retinol derived products.
2. L Ascorbic Acid (LAA) + Retinol: LAA is essentially vitamin C which is a must-have ingredient in your skincare routine. However, layering Vitamin C with retinol is not the best idea. There have been many theories about applying them together and separately and the best way to use both is to apply Vitamin C & sunscreen in the morning and Retinol at night. You can also alternate between them in your night routine.

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