Retinol is known throughout the skincare industry as a hero ingredient, and for good reason. It has the power to visibly transform skin in the convenience of the end user’s own home. Its tangible results serve consumers in addressing a spectrum of skincare concerns including acne, hyperpigmentation, dullness, uneven texture, and signs of aging. Retinol has become a go-to ingredient for dermatologists and skincare brands across the globe due to its efficacious reputation. But before you go crazy with your custom formulation(s), there are some important points to note for taking the most mindful approach to offering trustworthy retinol products.

The basics

Retinol is not a one-size-fits-all type of deal. There are a variety of retinoids, which all derive from vitamin A. The difference between them lies in their concentration levels, which range from 0.1% to 1%.

Here are some examples of different types of retinoids you might find on the ingredient labels of skincare products:

I advise clients not to pick one, but to offer multiple products that contain different levels of retinol in order to serve consumers in different stages in their retinol journey. The purpose of this suggestion is to provide the smoothest possible experience for the consumer.

The user experience

Not just anyone can use retinol. For those with chronic sensitivity (such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis), retinol isn’t ideal as it can have adverse effects on delicate skin by further irritating these conditions. Retinol can also be easy to overdose on, so it’s important to provide lots of education that’s easily accessible to shoppers considering making the investment.

The prerequisites for new retinol users are:

The reason I call it an investment is that it’s not like other active ingredients where customers purchase a new product and throw it right into their skincare regimen. Incorporating retinol is a process, and will likely require users to make a few changes to their existing routine.

New users should:

  1. Start with topical skincare products (creams, serums, or treatments) that contain the lowest concentration levels of retinol.
  2. Give their skin three months to acclimate, then take a three-month break before moving on to a higher concentration level product.
  3. Only use retinol products at night time.
  4. Start with using retinol products 1-2x/week, increasing usage (again, only at night) as their skin adjusts.
  5. Wait half an hour before layering other skincare products on top of it.
  6. IMPORTANT: all retinoids increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays, making it more susceptible to sun damage and free radicals. While using retinol products, it’s crucial that users apply SPF 50+ during the daytime, so as not to encounter any unwanted side effects.
  7. Eliminate any other products in their skincare routine that contain active ingredients or chemical exfoliants such as vitamin C, AHAs and BHAs, and glycolic acid in order not to compromise the skin’s barrier. Part of investing in a retinol regimen is accepting it as a new, all-in-one solution that replaces other staples items that possess such active ingredients. 

See what I mean by “it’s an investment”? I know, it’s a lot to take in. 

However, the payoff is well worth it if consumers are willing to remain committed, which is why it’s important to clearly communicate these details on all packaging and marketing materials. Retinol is widely regarded for being able to increase skin cell turnover, thus stimulating the production of collagen and elastin like no other ingredient can.

How to incorporate retinol into your product line

Similarly, reaping the benefits of topical retinol products requires as much of an investment from brands as it does their target customers. In order for consumers to commit, you must guide them through a seamless, transparent process from the moment the product first catches their eye, to the moment they’re ready to advance to the next concentration level.

In addition to offering multiple products with different concentration levels, you also want to be mindful of your delivery methods. Time-release technology for topical products or encapsulated retinol are ideal ways to mitigate the risk of negative side effects that might occur if users don’t follow the suggested usage guide. Otherwise, it can be easy to go overboard and spoil the entire affair. Yet, when used correctly, retinol can become an unparalleled remedy for treating chronic acne, less severe blemishes, hyperpigmentation, minimizing pores, smoothing uneven texture and tone, and plumping up wrinkles & fine lines.

A good experience with retinol is guaranteed to hook your target audience and turn them into loyal users of your brand. Although, It’s important to be mindful of how you first introduce them to this star ingredient and guide them through the process of using it safely while still achieving optimal results. To empower them to make this hefty investment, brands must be transparent and forthcoming about communicating all the information they need to know to tackle their skincare concerns. When you’re ready to take the plunge, contact your custom contract manufacturer to get started!

This article is authored and approved by Sam Dhatt, Owner & CEO of Allure Labs.