Retinol in Summer? Everything You Need to Know


Retinol in Summer? Everything You Need to Know

What is retinol? What does it do to the skin? Does retinol increase sun sensitivity? The Secret Skincare founders answer all your (burning) questions.

Andrea Robertson


0 minute read

Undoubtedly, consumers are more educated about skincare than ever before.

A hangover from lockdown when we were DIY-ing our facial treatments at home, we are well versed in active ingredients.

Vitamin A has been particularly embraced. It is lauded as topically delivering youthful, smooth, bright and bouncy complexion, thanks to its ability to speed up the cell turnover process.

Indeed, Retinol (everything in the Retinoid family, in fact) has been having its moment in the sun. Except - retinol and sun don't play well together.

The sensitising nature of this potent ingredient means skin is more susceptible than ever to UV damage.

The first rule of retinol = SPF every. damn. day.

To learn more about mixing retinol and sunshine, I turned to skincare gurus Dr Deb Cohen-Jones and Dr Clara Hurst, Co-Founders of The Secret Skincare

The game-changing brand is a prescription skincare offering that creates bespoke formulations for the individual based on their unique needs and goals.

This month, The Secret Skincare announced the launch of their first non-prescription product offering, The Base Range, designed to complement their hero Day Brightening Elixir and their cult Cellular Repair Night Cream, a powerful retinoid formulation.

Dr Cohen-Jones and Dr Hurst answered all our burning questions (see what I did there?) on how to safely and effectively continue using retinoids throughout the summer.

Dr Deb Cohen-Jones and Dr Clara Hurst, The Secret Skincare

What does retinol do to the skin? 

Essentially, retinol changes the behaviour of aged cells by stimulating cell turnover, which helps the skin renew. Retinol is clinically proven to treat fine lines, acne, reduce pigmentation, clear pores, reveal brighter skin, and reduce the appearance of uneven texture.

Retinol is a form of retinoid, while they are similar, they are not considered the same. Retinoids, such as Tretinoin, are much more powerful in nature and require a prescription. 

Does retinol increase sun sensitivity?

Retinol can be a powerful ingredient, which can make skin mildly sensitive to the sun. SPF50+ is necessary for daily use while using a retinol.

As cell turnover increases, dead skin cells on the outermost layer are removed, while younger, healthier cells come to the surface. 

Can I use retinol in summer, or is it an ingredient to save for winter?

Yes! You absolutely should be using retinoids year-round, even in summer. When using retinoids it’s imperative that you're also using SPF50+ everyday. 

It’s best to introduce retinoids slowly into a nightly routine one or two times per week for the first few weeks and increase gradually, depending on how the skin reacts. If it’s your first-time using retinoids, try starting before summer to allow your skin to acclimatise. 

Can I wear retinol during the day?

In some cases, retinol can be used during the day. However, some stronger retinoids such as Tretinoin are sensitive to sunlight, which can impact their efficacy and lead to skin sensitivities. We recommend using retinoids at night to ensure their effectiveness.

What happens if you wear retinol in the sun?

As long as you apply a high protection broad spectrum sunscreen daily and reapply during the day, your risk of burning from a retinol is small. But to ensure the effectiveness on your skin, it’s best to incorporate in your nighttime routine. 

Does retinol reduce sun damage?

Retinoids are considered a gold standard in anti-aging skincare.

They are proven to improve skin's texture and tone by increasing cell turnover and lightening dark spots, and can also help to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin in skin lost from UV radiation.

Prescription retinoids are more effective and deliver faster results than their over-the-counter counterparts.

The best way to reverse sun damage is to focus on prevention by reducing sun exposure in the first place, and wearing sunscreen and protective clothing. 

Andrea Robertson



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