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Are Retinoids Safe for Dry Skin?

In short, yes—read on for tips for using retinoids if you have dry skin.

By Kaleigh Fasanella, she/her

When it comes to skincare, there are few ingredients as highly-lauded as retinoids. After all, not only do they help clear skin and smooth out skin texture, but they also aid in staving off premature signs of aging, making them an amazing long-term investment for your skin. The one caveat with retinoids is they can cause dryness and irritation if they’re not used correctly, but does this mean you shouldn’t use them if your skin is already on the dry side? In short, no. Retinoids are safe for dry skin—just keep these tips in mind.

“As long as they’re used properly, retinoids are really good for all skin types and provide multiple different benefits, including visibly reducing texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and visible pores,” says Jacob Tomas dél Rosario, Youth To The People’s Director of Field Sales + Education. 

Now back to the main question: Yes, those with dry skin definitely have the green light to use retinoids, according to Rosario, so long as they use them correctly and don’t overdo it. 

For instance, Rosario points out that dry skin tends to be on the thinner or less dense side, so it’s important to start off slow—try a retinoid out once per week to begin—and only use a small amount in order to help it adjust. Additionally, he recommends pairing your retinoid with calming and hydrating ingredients to support your skin barrier and mitigate any potential irritation. 

“The Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum contains a base of hyaluronic acid and squalane which both help with hydration and moisture retention, respectively,” says del Rosario. “It also contrains niacinamide which is great for overall calming, as well as adaptogens to help soothe the visible effects of sensitivity.” 

Tips for using retinoids if you have dry skin

An excellent way to avoid any adverse side effects from your retinoid is to use what’s known as the “buffering method.” As del Rosario explains, this involves mixing a pea-size amount of your retinoid into your nighttime moisturizer—something like YTTP’s Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask—in order to dilute its strength slightly. In turn, this will reduce the risk of experiencing any irritation (depending on your skin tone and type, redness, flaking skin, etc.)

Another recommendation from del Rosario:

“I love pairing the Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum with the Triple Peptide + Cactus Oasis Serum as a first layer because it’s hydrating and conditioning, and also rich in peptides that help plump and firm,” he says. “It also contains four types of hyaluronic acid to help minimize any adverse effects from the retinoid.”

Last but not least, he suggests incorporating the Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Oil into your routine for added T.L.C. Rich in antioxidants and omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, it’s incredible at replenishing dry skin and maintaining a strong moisture barrier. 

The bottom line? Slow and steady is the name of the game. That, and don’t forget to incorporate hydrating and soothing ingredients into your routine to keep your skin healthy and strong.

Written by Kaleigh Fasanella for Youth To The People

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