Would you love to use retinol, vitamin C or some of the exfoliating acids (AHA, BHA, TCA) to improve your complexion but find that they’re just too irritating for your skin?
If your skin tends to be sensitive or even if you just haven’t used an ingredient before, you may find that certain active ingredients seem to be too strong for your skin.
Retinol is one of those active ingredients that have a slew of benefits, but require a break in period for almost everyone, especially those with more sensitive skin.
I get it. It doesn’t matter how beneficial an active ingredient is if it makes your skin red, itchy, flaky, and generally irritated.
There is a solution.
It’s called microdosing.
Just like it sounds, microdosing is using very small amounts of an active ingredient rather than the highest concentration every day.
You still see results but without the negative side effects. As your skin gets more used to the active and tolerates it better, you may be able to transition to a full concentration.
Retinol is one of the actives that microdosing works well for.
Retinol is a great active because it can diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles, increase firmness, give you a smoother skin texture and even increase your natural glow.
The problem is when you start using retinol, especially for the first time or if you have sensitive skin, there is almost always a break in period where you experience redness and flakiness. This is normal, but it bothers most women.
By starting slowly and using lower levels of retinol, you’ll build your skin strength and tolerance and still gradually get results. But without the dramatic break in period.
How do you microdose retinol?
One of the best ways to begin microdosing is to start by mixing a small amount of your retinol product with your moisturizer. You can do this easily in the palm of your hand.
Try this every 2nd or 3rd night for a week or so. If your skin is tolerating it well, you can increase how often you use the retinol until you can use it every night without irritation.
Then you can experiment with using the retinol product by itself, before your moisturizer. Again, start this slowly, every other or every 3rd night. You can use the retinol mixed with moisturizer on the nights in between.
The point is to go slow, at your skin’s own pace. Everyone’s skin is different. Especially if your skin is sensitive, take it easy, there’s no rush.
Note: Use retinol at night. Retinol actually breaks down in sunlight. Plus night time is when your skin goes into action to repair and renew itself. You might as well use retinol when it’s going to do the most good.
You can use this same technique for exfoliating acids (AHA’s, BHA’s , TCA’s).
Microdosing other actives
Vitamin C is another ingredient that some people find irritating at first. If you find yourself feeling itchy, or red, try mixing your vitamin C serum with your moisturizer or sunscreen. Gradually, start using the serum by itself. If you experience irritation, back off and continue to blend the serum.
Anything you shouldn’t microdose?
Sunscreen. It’s too Important to protect your skin from the sun.
If your sunscreen irritates your face, switch to another one. Irritation most commonly occurs with chemical sunscreens.
Try using a mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide are the active ingredients). Minerals aren’t absorbed into your skin and almost never cause irritation.
A powder mineral sunscreen is the least irritating of all.