Can You Still Use Retinol in the Summer?

Retinol is one of the most popular skincare ingredients currently available on the market and for good reason! Retinol, like all Vitamin A’s, speeds up the skin’s cell rejuvenation process, encouraging the production of collagen and smoothing fine lines in the process. 

Whilst this sounds like a dream come true, many of us shelve our retinol in the summer months - but is this something we have to do? We are here to talk about everything retinol, and what you can do this summer to keep using your favourite skincare product even when the sun is shining.

Should You Skip Retinol In The Summer?

Have you heard that you can’t use retinol in the summertime? Well, we are here to get rid of that skincare myth. Retinol is great when it comes to increasing skin cell production and unclogging pores. Retinol works to exfoliate your skin, as well as increase your natural production of collagen. This can, in turn, diminish your appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If you want your skin to appear fresh, and have that natural glow, then our Skincare Experts would recommend getting your hands on a retinol product. 

However, many believe that as soon as the sun starts shining, you should put a halt to using retinol - well, this is simply not true. It has been said that during summer, if you want to avoid irritation, you have to not use your favoured retinol product but we are here to reassure you that you can retinol all year round - in fact, retinol works best when you use it across a number of days.

What Happens If You Use Retinol & Go In The Sun?

So, where does this myth come from? Retinol can be slightly harsher on sensitive skin, and it’s vital that you use it in small amounts if you are a first-time user. It’s also recommended that you use a strength that is right for you and your skin type - if you use one that is too strong, you may notice irritation, itchiness and scaly patches on the skin. Retinol, like all new skincare products, should be slowly introduced into your skincare routine, to ensure your skin reacts well to it. 

Retinols themselves are actually sensitive to sunlight, which means that when you apply a skincare product with this ingredient, it can mean you become cautious about going into the sun. The sunlight can make retinoids less effective and many believe that it may make your skin more likely to get sunburnt. 

However, we are here to clear up this misconception. Yes, being exposed to the sun shortly after applying your retinol will make it less efficient. However, by applying it in the evening, you’ll be able to make the most of the retinol’s efficacy through the night. 

Another reason why some people are cautious about using retinol in summer is that retinol can cause excess redness and sun damage to the skin. This is because retinol increases cell turnover, and the newer, rejuvenated skin is much more sensitive to the sun. But this shouldn’t put you off using your retinol in summer - simply protecting your skin with an SPF 30+ is all that is needed to stop your skin from experiencing sensitivity.

How To Safely Use Retinol In The Summer?

1. Pick a Retinol Product That is Right For You

There are many, many retinol products on the market, so choosing the right one for you is vital. Take the Obagi Retinol 1.0% for example. This amazing skincare must-have has a formula that doesn’t just contain retinol - but microencapsulated retinol. This means that it will be absorbed by the skin gradually, over time. 

It breaks down the layers of the skin over time. This can reduce any irritation that may be experienced when using a retinol product, and allows you to still get all the amazing benefits. It is also recommended that you wear SPF if exposed to the sun when using this product in your routine.

2. SPF All The Way

Retinol can make the skin slightly more sensitive to the sun, but it’s nothing a little SPF can’t combat. Having good sun protection as part of your skincare routine is a must - especially if you plan on using retinol. As we’ve always said, sunscreen is important all year round, but particularly in the summer sun, you need to protect your skin from those harmful UV rays. 

Our Skincare Experts recommend the SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial Defence with SPF 50. The lightweight sunscreen is formulated with state-of-the-art UV filters that are easily absorbed for maximum protection to prevent UV-induced collagen breakdown, as well as UV-induced hyperpigmentation and other signs of premature ageing caused by those nasty rays. 

We would say that the frequency of applying retinol or retinoid in the summer does not necessarily need to be altered unless your skin tells you so. Unless there is a significant sensitivity when using retinol, you won’t have to limit your retinol use in the summer - just make sure you are keeping top of the good old SPF.

3. Evening Skincare Routine

The golden rule of retinol is to apply in the evening. Some products have been specially formulated to be used in the daytime, like the MZ Skin Hydrate & Nourish Age Defence Retinol Day Moisturiser SPF 30, but they’re an exception to the rule.

Applying in the evening allows the retinol to get to work without interference from the sun, rejuvenating your skin overnight. We’d recommend cleansing the skin and then waiting for it to dry completely before applying a light layer of retinol. If you’re concerned about dryness, you could also apply a moisturiser after this, but it isn’t a necessary step for everyone.

The latest from skincare

Skincare from the inside out. Tap into our world of award-winning skincare, 'the best of', new products and more.

The Real Difference Between Fine Lines & Wrinkles
What Is the 'Inside Outside' Approach to Skincare & Why Do You Need to Know About It?
How To Use Hyaluronic Acid
The Best Collagen Boosting Eye Treatment To Target Crows Feet And More