Burning questions: Are retinoids safe for summer?
Retinoids are one of skincare’s most tried-and-true ingredients, but is the belief that they should be be used in summer a confirmed truth or an urban skincare legend?
With summer in its peak glory and the launch of our new ritual — which may or may not be a Retinoid — on the way, we thought it was only prudent to get to the well-researched bottom of this mystery
Keep reading to find out what's fact vs what's fiction when it comes to safe retinoid usage during summer — and how you can cultivate safe and healthy retinoid routines year-round.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: WHAT ARE RETINOIDS?
First elevated in dermatology during the 1950, retinoids became the gold standard for treating acne and signs of aging. Derivates of Vitamin A, these compounds unclog pores, exfoliate, soften texture and tone, boost collagen and reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles — all faster than we'd ever seen before.
Since then, numerous clinical studies have been conducted on retinoid to fully understand and vet its benefits. Powerful, potent and proven, it's easy to understand why retinoids have become the thing when it comes to skincare over the last 70+ years.
But despite these game-changing benefits, retinoids also have an uglier side — potentially harsh side effects that could include dryness, redness and irritation. As skin acclimates to retinoids, it can become painfully inflamed, flaky or red.
These “uglies” can be enough to scare off most but when done right, retinoid's benefits far outweigh its difficulties.
FACT VS. FICTION: ARE RETINOIDS SAFE TO USE DURING SUMMER?
The facts? Retinoids are a powerful active ingredient. The aforementioned "uglies" can often leave skin irritable and more sensitive than it typically would be, particularly for those who are new to the ingredient.
And the fiction? While retinoids do have the potential to make skin more sensitive to external aggressors — including the sun — dermatologists confirm that the risk of burning is minimal.
"You absolutely can and should use retinoids in the summer," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Loren Franco tells Byrdie, "As long as you apply sunscreen daily and reapply when outdoors, your risk of burning from a retinoid is [small]."
HOW TO SAFELY USE RETINOIDS DURING SUMMER
Now that you're up to speed on the fact versus fiction when it comes to retinoids' summer safety, how can you make sure skin will remain healthy and stable while using it during the warmer months?
Here are a few top-of-mind tips you can rely on if you're currently using a retinoid, or thinking about adding one to your routine, this summer:
Start low & slow: If you're new to retinoids, follow year-round best practice and start your journey by applying just one to two times per week, until your skin gets through the "uglies" and officially gets acclimated to the ingredient.
Apply at night: True any time of year but especially summer, it's important to apply your retinoids once the sun has gone down in order to minimize sun exposure and preserve your retinoids' potency.
Pair with strengthening and soothing ingredients: During warmer months, Increased outdoor time can expose skin to harmful environmental aggressors including pollution, toxins and UV rays. Because retinoids can contribute to skin being a bit more sensitive than normal during the acclimation phase, it's important to pair your active retinoid with other ingredients that boost barrier health. Look for synergistic and strengthening staples like ceramides and peptides, moisturizing essentials like hyaluronic acid, and cooling, soothing standards like aloe and CBD. Our upcoming launch, Grass Nuit Rebirth Retinoid, is packed with these beneficial ingredients (and more) which help to preserve skin health when using retinoids during the summer months. Sign up now and be first to shop your new nightly must-have ritual when it launches later this month in limited quantities.
- Use SPF: This should be a part of your daily routine year-round, but we can't stress enough how important it is to use a strong SPF during summer months, especially if you're actively using a retinoid. Reach for a minimum of SPF 30 (SPF 50 is even better!), and apply liberally and often.
MYTH, BUSTED: THE TAKEAWAYS
Don't let the summer months put a stop to your good skin game — retinoids are safe to use year round.
If you're new to this game-changing ingredient, look for formulas that pair retinoids with barrier supporting and strengthening ingredients.
And no matter your expertise level, remember: Always wear sunscreen!