A Definitive Guide To Retinol: From Skin Troubles To Radiance

The science of skincare has been on a roll for the past decade, providing us with safer, more refined, and organic solutions -- options tailor-made for all skin types. For treating acne, oily skin, uneven skin tone, and signs of aging, Retinol is a common ingredient found in many skincare products, and for good reason. It’s been proven to be an effective ingredient, and skincare experts and specialists are vouching for this miracle ingredient.

However, when it comes to taking care of your skin, you should not jump on any bandwagon of beauty and cosmetics without doing proper research. Amid all the positive reviews and attention Retinol is getting, the most important thing is to know if it’s right for you.

Retinol Guide

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, also referred to as retinoid, which takes several forms as an ingredient of skincare products. The most common types are Retinol, various Retinyl Esters (Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Propionate, and Retinyl Palmitate), and Retinaldehyde. These are the names that appear most often in your favorite skin creams and serums. 

How Does Retinol Help Your Skin?

The biggy about Retinol and what put it on the map of skincare is its anti-aging properties. However, decades of study have proven the miracle ingredient to do more than making your skin look youthful. 

Essentially, Retinols act on specific receptors in the skin, which help promote normal maturation of skin cells. They aid in skin renewal and enhance collagen production to help your skin look and feel healthy, smooth, and even in tone. Retinol’s efficacy in all skin tones and types makes it such a sought-after ingredient.

How Does Retinol Combat Acne, Aging, And Hyperpigmentation?


Retinol helps the skin cells that line the pores to turnover more normally, unclogging pores which help prevent the occurrence of pimples and blackheads. By clearing and reducing outbreaks, Retinol also avoids the formation of acne scars.


It is a known fact that overexposure to the sun damages your skin, causing it to age faster, as evidenced by wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Retinol can help reduce the effects of sun damage in the skin by making its deeper layers ‘thicker,’ boosting collagen production, and preventing the breakdown of collagen.


Not only does Retinol speed up cell turnover, it also penetrates deep into the skin and interferes with pigment production. It normalizes  various pathways of pigmentation. These effects lead to smoother, more even skin tone and radiant skin. 

When Should You Start Using Retinol?

Most people think that you don’t need Retinol until you’re in your 30s. However, although one wouldn’t see the difference and benefits in your 20s, it’s best to start as early as possible, as prevention for skin issues you don’t want to be worrying about the older you get. 

A good way to start incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine is TreeActiv’s Retinol Cream. It uses the anti-aging power of Retinol to take years off your skin and replenishes lost collagen to revive skin firmness and elasticity.

How Should You Use Retinol?

Make sure that you ease into Retinol by slow to gauge your tolerance.

Wash and pat skin dry. Apply to the face, neck, and decolletage. Gently massage into your skin with circular upward motions. For best results, use daily, morning and night. Use sunscreen daily as Retinol can increase sun sensitivity. If dryness occurs, alternate days with a moisturizer without Retinol. 

Side Note: Retinol may dry out your skin, and may induce peeling. This peeling process isn’t exfoliation, but your skin’s way of normalizing skin cell turnover, since the skin cells are normalizing and maturing. Eventually, with regular use of Retinol, the peeling and dryness will slow down or stop and will bring out a smoother, more radiant skin. If the irritation and peeling persist, you may need to switch to a different formulation or moisturize more along with it.

When Should You Use Retinol?

Retinol works best when applied at night as it is an ingredient that is sensitive to light. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use it during the daytime. TreeActiv’s Retinol Cream is photo-stabilized and can be used during the day.

Retinol And Exfoliation

Due to its peeling properties (which is not the same as the peeling that occurs during an exfoliation), it’s advised to minimize exfoliating when using Retinol. Depending on skin thickness and skin quality, use more gentle exfoliants such as lactic or phytic acids instead of glycolic acid. Limit exfoliating for when you’re using Retinol.

Over-The-Counter Retinol vs Prescription Retinol

Medications and skincare products sold far and wide have different strengths and compositions, which means some products will have a stronger form of Retinol and others will have a higher concentration.


The weakest form of retinoids, Retinol is the most easily tolerated by the skin. It takes time to be absorbed by the skin as it gets broken down and converted into Retinoic Acid, which is the active form of Vitamin A. 


Also known as Tretinoin, Retin-A is usually found in prescription-strength anti-acne and anti-aging formulas. Unlike Retinol, Retin-A doesn’t need to be broken down by the enzymes in your skin, as it directly converts into Retinoic Acid. 

Don’t Forget!


Since Retinol helps the skin become younger and healthier, it skin becomes more photosensitive. Any dermatologist will express and stress the importance of using sunscreen every day to prevent wrinkles, blotchy skin, and most importantly, skin cancer. 

Using sunscreen is the most important way to maintain healthy and youthful skin as you age. Since Retinol is sensitive to light, it definitely pays to apply sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 on a daily basis.

Retinol Guide

Retinol is readily available and can be bought over the counter, and if you’re looking to get high-concentration formulas, you may always check with your dermatologist.