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Should You Still Exfoliate While Using Retinal?

You get regular skin surface turnover with retinoid use—but what about flaking?

By Kaleigh Fasanella, she/her

Retinal: it helps promote skin surface turnover. Though this sounds similar to exfoliation, it’s a little different, so that begs the question: should you still exfoliate while using retinal?

According to New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Robert Finney, it depends.

“Essentially the anti-aging benefits of consistent retinoid use outweigh exfoliation,” he says. “You get regular turnover of skin with retinoid use, so it should help your skin shake off the dry flaky skin that you would be targeting with an exfoliant.”

With that being said, Dr. Finney stipulates that sometimes, “low-frequency scheduled exfoliation can be a good addition.” Ultimately it depends on your skin type and goals. For instance, if your complexion is sensitive and tends to react super easily, you’ll definitely want to avoid using retinoids and exfoliants at the same time, as this could compromise your skin barrier—aka the main protective shield that safeguards your epidermis from harm. If you suffer from frequent breakouts though, Dr. Finney says your skin may benefit from the addition of a salicylic acid exfoliant, while those with hyperpigmentation could try a glycolic acid to further address dark spots. For best results and to avoid potential irritation, use them on alternate days as tolerated by your skin.

ICYMI: Youth To The People just launched a game-changer retinoid formula, the the Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum formulated with 0.15% retinaldehyde, which is the closest step to retinoic acid (the form your skin needs a retinoid to be in to work best). It’s also the most potent retinoid dose available without a prescription—so it’s effective, but gentler on the skin than Rx retinoids. Additionally, the Youth Serum contains skin-nourishing ingredients like 5% niacinamide, squalane, ceramides, and an adaptogenic mushroom complex that helps skin stay in a happy state while acclimating to the retinal

Now that that’s squared away, get more questions answered and learn more about retinal, here.

Written by Kaleigh Fasanella for Youth To The People




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