Beauty, Skin Tips

Retinol 101

After I shared my post about the 10 skin habits you should start this year I got a ton of questions and DMs asking about retinol. Questions like: What is it retinol? What’s retinoid? Can anyone use it? When should I have started using it? What exactly does it do?

Well, don’t you worry! I did all the research for you so sit back and relax because Retinol 101 is now in session:

Here’s the breakdown of everything you need to know about retinol:

1. Retinoid is made from vitamin A, which helps your skin cells reproduce naturally.

2. Once upon a time, retinoid was used as an acne treatment, but then it was discovered that it works really well for its anti-aging properties!

3. Retinol is a subset (or you could say lower dose) of retinoid and can be found in many over the counter products whereas retinoid is only available via prescription.

4. Retinol and retinoid are used to treat acne, improve skin texture, reduce pore size, and reduce fine lines & wrinkles. (Can you say MIRACLE product?)

5. If you’re using a product with retinol, make sure to use sunscreen during the day and if you can, I would suggest avoiding using retinol in the mornings. (Side note:  I can’t stress it enough, but you should always be using sunscreen no matter what. Every day. Every morning!!) I like to use my retinol products during my night time skincare routine.

6. If you’re pregnant, avoid using retinol as it can go into your bloodstream and affect your baby.

7. Retinol comes in many different types of products so choose the one that fits your lifestyle and needs. From an eye cream like this one, a mask like this one, or a peel like this one– there’s a type of retinol that can work for everyone and their skincare routine. If you’re new to the retinol world- this one by Honest Beauty is very light and a great way to introduce retinol into your routine!

8. While I talked about it as a product for anti-aging in this post here– it’s good for all ages depending on your skin’s needs.

9. If you feel like you could benefit from retinoid, the safest bet is to ask your dermatologist! If you don’t think you need that high of a dose, check out my favorite retinol products below!

Are you already using a retinol product? If you’re not,  do you think you’ll start? Let me know your thoughts down below and have a great day!



  • Esther says:

    I need to get better at using retinol!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this informative post about retinol! 🙂 I’ve been wanting to incorporate it in to my skincare routine for awhile now, so definitely looking forward to trying some of these recommendations!

    XO, Elizabeth

  • I use a prescription for my acne, but it has helped so much with the overall appearance of my skin.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

  • Su says:

    What about using it while brestfeeding??

  • Jasna says:

    Love your beauty articles,but I always tought the opposite is true:that pure retinol is the stronger type(can cause irritation) and retinoid is not so strong,is a version of retinol that can be used without irritation..and pure retinol is best prescribed by a dermatologist(or must be taken in small percentage like 0,2% to avoid irritation/peeling),and retinoid is more widely available(like the Ordinary Retinoid 2%).does anybody know was I wrong all along or is this article wrong?

    • Steph says:

      You’re wrong. It’s pure retinoids that people go to their dermatologist to get a prescription for. The retinol is much weaker but they do the same thing just takes longer to see a change with the weaker retinol

  • Nniikki says:

    I always heard this word floating about in skincare but didn’t really get into the details because honestly it gets into a very scientific zone which is difficult to understand. But you made it pretty simple! 🙂


  • Aléxia says:

    Hi Chriselle 🙂 I’m using this French pharmacy pommade called A313 , it’s pire vitamin A. It’s works so well and only costs 12€ when bought in France. The texture is weird but you get used to it.
    I heard it was the favorite of Gwyneth… if it’s good enough for her .. 🙂

  • Carol says:

    I have heard that it is not good to wax if you use retinol. Is that true?

  • K says:

    Lovely but I will pass on this one

  • Retinol is one of the few things that actually work. Great post!

  • Tami says:

    Not only is this moisturizer with retinol overpriced, it contains fragrant lavender oil, which research has shown is among the worst ingredients for skin. See More Info to learn why lavender oil is such a problem. Even without the lavender oil, this isn’t the retinol product to beat. Although the moisturizing formula is helpful for normal to dry skin and the tube packaging will keep key ingredients (including retinol) stable during use, the formula just isn’t worth the money, nor is it as exciting as several other retinol products.

    Somerville claims that the RetAsphere Smart Release Carrier System that she developed puts retinol (vitamin A) in a lipid (oil) shell so that it can “melt evenly into the skin”. This is said to prevent irritation that can occur with retinol use. Although it may do just that, there are other ways to ensure retinol works as intended without causing signs of irritation such as redness or flaking. For example, a chemist could load the retinol product with anti-irritants or encapsulate the retinol in a controlled-released delivery system. What Somerville developed sounds intriguing, but, assuming it works as intended (and there’s no published research proving or disproving this) it’s still just one more way to make retinol more tolerable.

    Without the issues that lavender oil presents, this would be good yet still overpriced moisturizer with retinol. As is, we cannot recommend it even if your budget wouldn’t flinch at the cost.

    Contains retinol in stable packaging.
    Moisturizes as well as treats signs of aging.
    Formula isn’t as exciting as several other retinol products.
    Lavender oil is an irritant for all skin types

  • Lindsey says:

    Differin gel is a retinoid and has been available OTC for about a year now. It’s so much more convenient and affordable than when it was prescription only!

  • Jeselle Samantha Yu says:

    Yes! i have been using retinol during my night routine and my vitamin c and sunscreen during day routine and i am loving it. 🙂 thank you for this additional knowledge. <3

  • Matea says:

    Oh yes I love retinol and have been using both retinoid and retinol, I use retinoid in Sona cream that I put three times a week as my dermatologist said, I use it to avoid pimples that I had before two years. Also I use retinol at my night serum (local brand from Croatia that makes amazing skincare). Great post, I haven’t see ever someone writing about the difference.

  • Mireia says:

    Absolutely love it!

    Mireia from TGL

  • Fatou says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Natali says:

    Dr. Dennis products sound amazing to me, I have to test them!

  • Jada says:

    I have always heard that retinol is good for your skin but have been so apprehensive to try it. What would you recommend as a good first product with retinol to try?

  • Shloka says:

    This is so helpful because retinol can sound so so scary but you break it down so well!


  • Keri says:

    Definitely learned a lot about retinol from this post! I would love to get something like this to add to my nighttime skin care routine 🙂

  • rachel says:

    Such a helpful post!
    When do you put on the retinol? Is it the first thing to go on after your toner before all your other serums? Towards the end of your skin care routine?

    • Jennifer says:

      Retinol (and all actives like vitamin c) go on right after your toner and/or essence and before hydrating serums, moisturizers etc.

  • Jae says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! It was so helpful!

  • Marianne says:

    So great to learn more about Retinol! I had no idea about all these facts and benefits 🙂 <3

  • […] What is it retinol? What’s retinoid? Can anyone use it? What does it do? But don’t worry everyone, I did all the research for you! So sit back and relax because Retinol 101 is in session: from The Chriselle Factor […]

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