Curious about retinol? Perhaps you’re interested in what it can do for your skin. Or maybe you’ve heard there can be side effects, so you want to know more before you move forward. Read on! The information below will reassure you that this ingredient IS for you, even if you haven’t seen a wrinkle yet (and most definitely if you have!).

Photo of Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5 on mirror with three pea-sized drops of the formula.

Let’s begin by defining what it is. Retinol, Retin-A and other retinoids are part of the vitamin A family. Our bodies produce vitamin A naturally, and it’s critical for healthy cell development. In fact, topical application of this vitamin has been shown to help maintain skin’s integrity by supporting natural production of collagen and elastin, along with improved skin cell turnover.

If you’ve come across retinol in the doctor’s office, you may have seen it referred to as dermatology’s gold standard ingredient for anti-aging. The prescription-strength treatment (Retin A or tretinoin) is pure retinoic acid and can be immediately utilized by skin, whereas the pure retinol found in high-efficacy dermocosmetic formulas gets converted into retinoic acid once it’s absorbed.

Prevent and Reverse Visible Signs of Aging

Decades of scientific study by universities and dermatologists around the world have supported the remarkable benefits of this ingredient, demonstrating its ability to deliver younger-looking skin by:

Preventing visible aging you can’t see yet.
Reversing the signs of aging that you can see.
This potent form of vitamin A doesn’t impact just one aspect of skin health. The vitamin’s been clinically shown to help reverse multiple, visible signs of aging like:

Fine lines and wrinkles
Skin firmness
Skin tone evenness
Skin texture (smoothness)
Skin elasticity
Radiance
It achieves this by helping you regain the collagen that your skin loses every year:

It supports natural elastin and collagen production, improving the appearance of collagen-depleted skin.
Plus, it stimulates surface skin cell turnover, so skin appears more as it did when you were younger. (And if you’re not yet seeing visible signs of aging, it can actually delay their appearance!)

Pea-Size Potency

High-concentration retinol is one ingredient where “more” doesn’t equal “better.” One pea-size drop applied on a consistent basis – even every other evening – will deliver visible improvement.

Pea-size dose of Retinol 0.5 on a woman’s index finger.

Of course, not all retinol products are created equal. When making the decision to purchase, you’ll want to look for clinical results that demonstrate effectiveness. A high-performance product will address the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone (AKA “age spots” or “dark spots"), and loss of facial firmness – basically all the things that make your skin look older.

Regarding Retinol Side Effects

Pure retinol is a powerful ingredient to supplement your nighttime skin care routine. However, it’s important to understand that when first starting out on a retinoid-based night cream or serum, skin may get worse before it gets better. It takes time for skin to adjust to the potency. Common side effects to the introduction of a new, high-concentration formula can include temporary redness, dryness and flakiness. These side effects disappear once skin is “retinized.”

Animated image of serum tube and facial milk advancing up a white staircase.

What is “retinization”? Retinization is the adjustment period during which skin becomes acclimated to vitamin A. Once your skin is retinized, these temporary discomforts should disappear. To improve your experience and support success, Mary Kay has designed a unique eight-week retinization protocol to help minimize potential discomfort that can occur when you first start using pure retinol at 0.5% concentration. The protocol was developed in association with dermatologists to support the amazing benefits of this product, regardless of the user’s age, ethnicity or skin type. The set includes Retinol 0.5 and Calm + Restore Facial Milk, which are applied in a gradually increasing frequency demonstrated to deliver successful results. Eight weeks to train your skin. Eight weeks to amazing!

Clinical Solutions™ Calm+Restore Facial Milk on a mirror surrounded by fluid formula.

This advanced dermocosmetic treatment includes Clinical Solutions™ Calm + Restore Facial Milk. The first few weeks after applying a topical retinoid, you may need to moisturize skin more often than usual. This calming facial milk helps combat temporary dry skin and can be used in addition to your normal, daily moisturizer. It features plant oils (coconut, jojoba seed, sunflower and olive) to deliver a power-shot of rich, fatty acids that nourish and soothe, while glycerin and squalane help prevent water loss. Maximize results. Maximize comfort.

More You Need to Know

It probably won’t surprise you that an anti-wrinkle ingredient this potent requires special handling. For one thing, you’ll want to avoid the eye area. If contact occurs, rinse well with water. If you wear eye cream at night, it’s recommended you apply your eye cream first, and ensure it’s absorbed, before applying Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5

And while it’s true that temporary discomfort like mild redness, dryness and flakiness can be common, if you experience a more severe rash or irritation, you should discontinue use and consult a physician. Don’t use retinol if you’re lactating, pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Keep out of reach of children. And be cautious about spending time outside because it can increase photosensitivity. Apply retinol at night, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day. And always store retinol products away from extreme heat and/or direct sunlight.

If You Want an Even Gentler Option

A photo of Clinical Solutions™ Retinol 0.5 Set with TimeWise Repair® products.

Mary Kay’s gentle retinization process makes high-concentration retinol accessible to more men and women than ever before. However, if you’re still concerned about the potency, there are effective, non-irritating alternatives in a vitamin A cream that can deliver visible, long-term results. TimeWise Repair® Night Treatment With Retinol and Volu-Fill® Deep Wrinkle Filler are two skin care solutions suitable for sensitive skin. Both anti-aging creams feature a time-release retinol encapsulated in microspheres to help lift away the years.

Don’t Wait Until You’ve Seen Your First Wrinkle

You don’t have to wait until you see wrinkles to try high-concentration retinol. It’s a proven ingredient for healthy-looking skin. And if you’ve avoided retinol-based face creams because you were worried about the side effects, it’s definitely time to take a second look. Mary Kay has made it easy, delivering a retinol serum and facial milk power pair that delivers visible results while minimizing discomfort. It’s time to fall in love with your skin again!