10 Myths About Retinoids You Need to Stop Believing

Posted December 6, 2021 by in Beauty

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that are converted into retinoic acid. They’re primarily used in skincare and can be found in boutiques, pharmacies, and grocery stores. Retinoids are proven to improve skin tone and texture by increasing cell turnover.

Always speak with a dermatologist before putting retinoids on your skin, as there are several myths associated with retinoids that could promote confusion or improper use of the product.

Stop Believing These 10 Retinol and Retinoid Myths

Dermatologists want to set the record straight when it comes to using retinoids on your skin. This doctor-backed guide to retinoids can give you more advice on how to correctly use retinoids.

Myth 1: Retinol and Retinoids Are The Same Thing

Technically that’s true, as retinol is a type of retinoid, but retinol contains a lower concentration of the active retinoic acid ingredients. A prescription retinoid, like Differin, is a well-tolerated acne treatment that attacks skin issues quicker but could be irritating for sensitive skin types.

Myth 2: Retinoids Increase Your Sunburn Risk

Not true. Retinoids do break down in the sunlight, making them more useful at night, but retinoid drops won’t make you prone to sunburns during the day. Redness that results from being in the sun after using the product is likely due to the heat, as retinol doesn’t offer UVA protection.

Myth 3: Retinoids Exfoliate Your Skin

We often associate redness or peeling with exfoliation, but retinoids don’t work by removing dead skin cells. Instead, retinoids operate at a deeper level by affecting gene expression, which smoothes and tones the skin and enhances collagen production while you use it. 

Myth 4: Apply Retinoids to Dry Skin

Look at the back of any retinoid product or retinol prescription, and you’ll often see “only apply on dry skin.” While most doctors recommend following skincare instructions as closely as possible, you can apply retinoids to damp or wet skin without reducing or improving its potency. 

Myth 5: Stop Using Retinoids if it Irritated Your Skin

It’s difficult to continue a skincare regime when your skin is suffering, but it’s important to push through the pain for now. When you add vitamin A to your skin, it will cause flare-ups. In about two to three weeks, your skin should adapt. If not, switch to a weaker formula and try again.

Myth 6: A Change in Climate Effects Retinoids

Many skincare enthusiasts won’t take their retinoids on vacation because of this myth. A sudden temperature change won’t cause your skin to reject retinoids once it’s climatized to your formula. Apply more moisturizer to avoid retinol dryness if you switch to a dry climate.

Myth 7: Avoid Retinoids Near the Eyes

The skin near your eyes is thinner and more sensitive, leading many of us to believe harsh acidic products shouldn’t be placed around the eyes. However, people who use retinoids near their eyes see the best results from their products, even if it initially starts to sting or peel.

Myth 8: Retinoids Plateau After 6 Months

Retinoids will significantly improve the overall look and feel of your skin, even after years of use. Retinols, which are less potent than retinoids, can fade blotches and smooth wrinkles for a prolonged period. If you no longer see benefits, try using stronger retinol or add peptides.

Myth 9: Retinoids Thin Your Skin

This myth piggybacks off of the peeling myth. Retinoids only peel your skin initially, but after a couple of months, they’ll absorb completely into your pores. Instead of thinning your skin, retinoids actually make your skin thicker, protecting it from premature aging and the sun.

Myth 10: Only Use Retinoids After Wrinkles Form

Prevention is the best alternative to treatment in any medical industry, so it makes sense that the same would apply to skincare. Even if you’re a 20-something-year-old, start using retinoids to get ahead of the aging process, as there’s no evidence prolonged use is bad for your skin.

*Photos by Fleur Kaan