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Dr. Rivers Q&A: Retinol Edition

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During a Facebook Live event, Dr. Rivers answered some questions about retinol. We've summarized many of the highlights into this Q&A. Read on to see what he had to say about the science of retinols, building a skincare routine with retinol and how to maximize your results with retinol.

Q: Will retinol help my Type I rosacea (with spider veins on my cheeks)?

A: While retinol is commonly used to treat acne, it can help with rosacea as well. A recent study out of Australia showed that topical retinol may have positive effects in reducing the signs and symptoms of rosacea. Just understand that retinol is often drying and irritating to the skin, so needs to be used carefully by everyone and especially those with rosacea. 

Whatever form of retinol you use - retinol, retinal, retinaldehyde or retinoic acid - whether it's prescription or over-the-counter, you need to give your skin time to build a tolerance to it. Using too much, too fast will result in skin irritation.

Beyond going "low and slow", look for a formula with .5% active retinol (a higher percentage will increase irritation without any proportionate advantages) and that contains skin-soothing ingredients.

Q: How do I incorporate retinol into my anti-aging regime?

A: The first step is to slowly introduce retinol into your skincare routine. Start by first using it like a mask, wearing it for just a few hours. This will allow your skin to adjust to it without any irritation. Increase the time left on until you're able to wear the retinol overnight. Then start using it once a week, then twice, then every other night. But do this slowly as well. You're also able to layer other products on top - just give the retinol time to absorb firsts before adding a serum and moisturizer. Always use retinol at night, not during the day as retinol degrades in sunlight, and follow with a sunscreen during the day.

Q: Which should I use: Retinol Treatment or The Corrector V2?

A: Actually, you can use both. Use The Corrector V2 in the morning and Retinol Treatment in the evening. The Corrector V2 has tranexamic acid to help fade many types of hyperpigmentation and niacinamide to help brighten skin. Retinol Treatment contains .5% retinol but also has the highest concentration of beta-t ever formulated, which helps block the development of pigment in the first place.

Q: Do you recommend retinol for melasma?

A:  I do. Melasma is a pigment disorder that commonly affects women. It's often triggered by hormone-related events, such as taking birth control pills or being pregnant. Retinol helps speed cell turnover, so the darker patches are replaced by fresh new cells faster, helping to eventually lighten the melasma. 

Light can also trigger melasma to develop, so in addition to treating existing dark patches, try to prevent it from occurring in the first place by using a full-spectrum sunscreen.

Since there's no cure for melasma, it really does come down to actively managing the symptoms.

Q: What age should we start using retinol?

A: This really depends on your skin type. For example, people who are very fair-skinned and who have a higher likelihood of developing skin damage can start earlier. In general, I think everyone could benefit from retinol starting in their 30s.

Q: Can you use Exfoliating Glycolic Peel and Retinol together?

A: Yes, but use with some caution. In order to not irritate your skin, first build up tolerance to Retinol Treatment for about 3-4 weeks. Then, you can introduce Exfoliating Glycolic Peel starting at once a week and increasing as your skin allows.

Learn more about the Riversol's Exfoliating Glycolic Peel here

  1. Rosacea with spider veins
  2. Anti-Aging regime
  3. Retinol or Corrector V2?
  4. Retinol for melasma?
  5. When to start Retinol?
  6. Exfoliating Glycolic Peel