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Whether you have stubborn acne or are on a mission to ward off early signs of ageing, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of retinol as a solution to both – and it’s no myth.

According to dermatologists and skin experts, retinol is one of the most effective ingredients around. From working wonders on fine lines and wrinkles to improving the skin’s texture as well as reducing scarring and enlarged pores, there isn’t much this ingredient can’t do.

If you’re new to retinol and aren’t sure where to start, keep reading. We’ll give you the lowdown on this ingredient.

Pssst! Read till the end to find out how you can redeem a FREE retinol serum sample!

The different types of retinoids

beginners guide to retinol serum concentration

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For the uninitiated, retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that are converted into retinoic acid for use in skincare. “Retinoid” is essentially an umbrella term for both over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinoids.

This happy clan of vitamin A derivatives go by different names according to their strengths. Here’s everything you need to know about the three main groups.

  • Pure retinol: It helps stimulate skin cell turnover, which slows down naturally as we age. By using pure retinol, you refine and resurface the skin to improve the appearance of wrinkles, texture, and uneven tone.
  • Tretinoin: This is a potent retinoid available by prescription only. In its mildest concentration, it’s used for its anti-ageing benefits. If you’ve tried retinol and are seeking stronger forms, you can try tretinoin.
  • Tazarotene: This is the most powerful retinoid of the bunch, and it’s also available by prescription only. It treats various skin conditions, including psoriasis, acne, and visible signs of skin ageing caused by sun damage.

Which retinoid is suitable for beginners?

beginners guide to retinol serum which is suitable

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Of the bunch we just shared, we’d recommend easing your way into retinoids with pure retinol. That’s because pure retinol has a lower concentration of the active retinoic ingredient, which makes it less intense than prescription products.

Over-the-counter retinols are in ester forms, and it takes more steps for these ester forms to be converted into active retinoic acid.

What is the best concentration of retinol to start with?

beginners guide to retinol serum types of retinoid

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If you’re new to retinol, we recommend using a retinol serum with a concentration of 0.1% to 0.3% of pure retinol.

How retinol works is that it encourages skin renewal, which means the top layer of your skin cells sheds at an accelerated rate. This can remove the protective barrier and make your skin more sensitive.

If you start with a higher concentration of retinol, you’re likely to experience more redness, irritation, and even purging.

A good tip is to find a retinol serum with soothing properties and ingredients in it as well.

To calm and protect your skin barrier from the potential side effects of retinol, it’s best to look for a retinol serum that contains soothing, strengthening ingredients, which is why we recommend Vichy’s new Liftactiv Retinol Serum.

Meet Vichy’s new Liftactiv Retinol Serum

Vichy Liftactiv Retinol Specialist Serum

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Vichy’s Liftactiv Retinol Serum contains 0.2% pure retinol, which hits the sweet spot in retinol concentrations for beginners.

Powered by an effective anti-ageing complex that reduces and prevents all signs of ageing, the serum bumps up cellular renewal to reduce the appearance of fine lines and deep-set wrinkles, granting you supple, more radiant, youthful-looking skin.

That’s not all. Vichy’s formula also contains probiotic fractions. These probiotics are harnessed from bacterial fermentation and concentrated to deliver a dose of soothing, regenerative benefits to the skin. By accelerating skin recovery and aiding with barrier repair, your skin will regain its elasticity day after day.

Vichy Liftactiv Retinol Specialist Serum applicator

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To combat the effects of UV rays, oxygen, and heat, the serum is housed in an opaque, airtight, anti-UV bottle that prevents retinol degradation. It doesn’t allow air uptake or diffusion through leakages with its clever squeeze applicator, which keeps the formula fresh.

Vichy Liftactiv Retinol Specialist Serum texture

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What we particularly appreciate about the serum is that it is also fragrance-free and silicone-free, which makes it perfect for both sensitive and acne-prone complexions. It has a milky texture that absorbs into the skin right away without feeling greasy or sticky.

How often and when to use a retinol serum

beginners guide to retinol serum when and how often

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Balance is crucial when it comes to using a retinol serum, especially for beginners as it may cause irritation. We recommend to start off with four to five drops twice a week in the evening.

Gently massage the serum evenly on your face and neck. Make sure you apply it on freshly cleansed, dry skin and avoid the eye and lip area.

The key is to monitor your skin closely, and if your skin responds well to the retinol serum in the first week, you can gradually increase the usage to give your skin a chance to acclimate.

Try applying the retinol serum on alternate days in the second week, and then bump it up to every night from the third week onwards. If your skin experiences discomfort at any point, space out your application and/or reduce the amount of serum.

If you use an exfoliating product a few times a week, it’s best to skip the retinol serum the day before you exfoliate too. Exfoliation can be abrasive and harsh on the skin, so you don’t want to compound the irritation by heightening your skin’s sensitivity.

One thing to note with retinol use is that it can make your skin more prone to sun damage. It’s safe to use retinol year-round, but it’s best to follow up with sunscreen the next morning if you’ve applied retinol the night before. Of course, you should already be slathering on sunscreen daily!

Ready to reap the glorious benefits of a retinol serum? Jump on the bandwagon with Vichy’s Liftactiv Retinol Serum.

Redeem a free Vichy Liftactiv Retinol Serum sample pack!

Click here to sign up

Vichy Liftactiv Retinol Serum retails for S$83 at Watsons and Guardian, as well as Vichy’s Official Store on Shopee and Lazada.