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Retinol Purge: What It Is & How to Deal With It

by Marketing MaskerAide |

Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, has been a hot topic in the skincare community for quite some time now. It’s raved-about benefits are unmatched – reduction of acne breakouts, improvement of texture and fine lines, boost of hydration and elasticity, increased brightness, and regulation of oil, to humbly name a few. However, the road to a noticeable difference is long – weeks if prescribed and months if purchased over the counter – and rather bumpy, too. Cue the retinol purge or “uglies,” if you will.


What Is a Retinol Purge?

Since retinol’s superpower lies in its ability to accelerate cell turnover and dead skin-shedding, introduction of such forces your skin to adjust to the new routine. This adjustment period is known as the purge – your skin getting rid of all the uglies in a short amount of time. While that can look different for every individual, some of the more common, yet temporary, side effects include redness, dryness and tightness, skin peeling (dry and flaky skin), sensitivity to sunlight, and some acne breakouts. Yikes.


How to Deal with It

Now that you are aware of the prognosis, here are a few steps that you can take to effectively deal with the side effects:


  1. Avoid picking at your face – Yes, it is by far the hardest skill to master, but try your best to avoid peeling, picking, or scratching your face, for both hygienic and scar prevention reasons.
  2. Start slow – This refers to both the frequency of application and the strength of dosage, which you should increase and build up with time.
  3. Apply only at night – Sensitivity to sunlight is most harmful because it is invisible, thus minimize the risk of sun damage by applying retinol at night and religiously layering sunscreen throughout the day. Cloudy weather is no excuse.
  4. Hydrate from within – Increase hydration by adjusting your diet and lifestyle to include a higher water and vegetable intake. Don’t forget to soothe and hydrate your skin on the surface level, too, with our Nourishing and Firming sheet masks.
  5. Simplify your routine – For the time being, remove any other actives, acids, and exfoliants to avoid further irritation and discomfort. Stick to a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Remember, less is more.
  6. Employ a good moisturizer – To offset the faster cell turnover rate, as well as the dry and flaky skin, we recommend a thicker moisturizer to consistently nourish the skin’s moisture barrier. Another popular technique in the retinol veteran community is the “sandwich technique,” where you apply moisturizer before AND after the retinol as to reduce irritation without compromising its effectiveness.
  7. Document the progress – While this step won’t help with the physical side effects, it can help mitigate the effect on your mental state and confidence throughout the adjustment period by keeping you on track and motivated.


While we, the Maskeraide Marketing team, are skincare enthusiasts, please remember to chat with your health care professional about topical retinoids and whether they are right for you.


We hope that you’ve found this post insightful!


Xo Maskeraide

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