Everything you need to know about retinoids.

Here you can get acquainted with our new formula (and retinoids in general), and figure out what's right for your routine

SHOP UNIVERSAL PRO-RETINOL

Meet Universal Pro-Retinol (a retinoid everyone can love!)

A 0.5% pro-retinol that does just about everything: improves the appearance of fine lines, blemishes, uneven tone, and texture, all while nourishing skin.

  • Designed so everyone can use it to achieve a range of skin goals: whether you’ve got oily skin and texture issues, or dry skin and fine lines; whether you’ve been using a retinoid for ages, or you’re a tentative first-timer.
  • Formulated with 0.5% pro-retinol in the form of Retinyl Sunflowerate: an innovative hybrid of pure retinol and sunflower seed fatty acids that gives you the benefits of a retinoid with fewer of the usual downsides (irritation, dryness, peeling, etc.).
  • A creamy texture and humectants (like Glycerin and Mondo Grass Root Extract) hold onto moisture and keep skin comfortable.
  • Dermatologist tested, cruelty free, vegan, and formulated without fragrance.

“We formulated Universal Pro-Retinol to be as universal (hence the name) as possible. It’s absolutely my ‘desert island’ product, a fix-it-all powerhouse.”

- Chenaya, Sr. Director, Product Marketing + Development

Your skin after Universal Pro-Retinol.

In a clinical study, after 4 weeks of using Universal Pro-Retinol:

100% said skin looks visibly transformed
100% said skin feels smoother
100% said skin looks visibly more radiant
98% said blemishes look improved and skin looks overall clearer
94% said skin looks more even
91% said pores look visibly refined
84% said wrinkles are visibly improved
81% said dark spots look faded

They used Universal Pro-Retinol, and you can too.

Their results after 4 weeks.

Good skincare is science, not magic, and it takes time and consistency to work. As with any retinoid, you won’t see results overnight. This is meant to be a committed, long-term relationship—stick with it and you can start to see changes at around 4 weeks, with more benefits by the 3-month mark. If you want to make sure you have the right combination of products to get where you want to go, we made a routine builder for that.

Build Your Routine

Retinoid 101

Retinoids go by many names, but they’re all derivatives of Vitamin A. Once on the skin, they go through steps to convert to retinoic acid, which is the active form of Vitamin A that binds to receptors in your skin and tells them to speed up cell turnover (old cells die, slough off, and make way for fresher-looking skin). Prescription-strength retinoids (like Tretinoin) come in this active form, ready to work. This makes them very effective, but comes with a trade off of irritation that may be too harsh for some people. Other types of retinoids may have to go through a couple chemical conversions before they become retinoic acid. With each conversion, you do lose a bit of the potency, but if you’re new to retinoids, have sensitive skin, or are using a lot of other skincare actives in your routine, that can be a good thing. In any form, retinoids are the gold-standard for addressing a laundry list of concerns: the look of fine lines, blemishes, uneven tone, and texture. Second only to SPF, they’re perhaps the most well-researched ingredient category, with countless studies, experts, and ‘before and afters’ speaking to their benefits.

We asked our favorite derms all about retinoids:

These dermatology experts are speaking to retinoids in general, not our Universal Pro-Retinol formulation specifically. There are many forms of retinoid products on the market, including those available by prescription only. We always want to be transparent with you!

THE DERM: DR. CAMILLE HOWARD, DO, FAAD (AKA @DERMBEAUTYDOC AND FOUNDER OF GIRL+HAIR)

What do retinoids do to my skin?
Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that bind to proteins in our skin. Once that binding occurs, retinoids increase dermal elastin and collagen, disperse melanin granules, increase the thickness of the very top layer of your skin, and increase your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid.

Can I use retinoids with other active products—any ingredients to avoid
Retinoids shouldn’t be mixed with Benzoyl Peroxide (the active ingredient in a lot of acne treatments). Some people can tolerate using chemical exfoliators (like Alpha Hydroxy Acids) the same night as they are using retinoids, but I don’t advise this for most people.

Should I expect any irritation when I start using a retinoid?
Yes, some people may experience irritation when they first start a retinoid. There are ways to decrease the chances of skin irritation occurring: use a pea-sized amount of product, start slow (no more than three times per week at first), and use a moisturizer after applying your retinoid.

THE DERM: DR. EWOMA UKELEGHE, MBCHB ( AND FOUNDER & CEO OF SKNDOCTOR)

What does a retinoid do in my routine? Should I use it morning or night?
Retinoids can tackle dullness, pigmentation and even breakouts. You do need to be careful, as they can leave your skin more sensitive and increase photosensitivity. I always recommend applying your retinoids at night and following with SPF the next day.

What's the best way to introduce a retinoid into my routine?
Start slow and work your way up. Don’t immediately stop if a little sensitivity occurs, it can take your skin a couple of weeks to adapt and then it can tolerate the retinoid better. However if it’s extremely uncomfortable, use only once a week or switch to a weaker formula. Even at a low dosage, retinoids have great benefits that you can definitely see without the irritation.

How many days a week should I use it?
This really depends on your skin type and whether your skin is used to actives. I always say to patch test, start small and work your way up!

THE DERM PA: AMY MICHAELS KOBERLING, COSMETIC DERMATOLOGY PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (AKA @THE_SKINTHUSIAST)

What skin types can use retinoids? Are they suitable for sensitive skin?
Retinoids can be used by most skin types, but this is where product formulation comes in. Some people will tolerate the full range of retinoids just fine, while others need a more sensitive-skin friendly formulation. For these skin types, cream formulations are ideal and you want to look for hydrating ingredients.

When should I start using a retinoid?
Retinoids are truly a staple in any skincare regimen and you’d be hard-pressed to find a skin expert who doesn’t use one. If you’re looking for more radiant skin while preventing signs of aging, start as early as your 20s! Alternatively, it’s never too late to start. I’ve seen patients reap the benefits in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. You’ll just want to avoid retinoids if you’re nursing or pregnant.

How long does it take to see results?
You may notice smoother skin and superficial changes as soon as a few weeks, but you should give retinoids a good 8-12 weeks to really work their magic. They work by speeding up the cell cycle making our skin cells work more efficiently. This process takes time to appreciate!

“Everyone knows retinoids are my non-negotiable and the ultimate anti-aging elixir.”

- Dr. Ewoma, Cosmetic + Medical Doctor

The Universal Pro-Retinol routines.

The Renew + Protect Duo

retinoid + sunscreen

The two skincare products that should go together, no matter what: your retinoid and SPF. Learn More

Dr. Howard’s Routine

dermatologist-recommended skincare

A dermatologist-recommended skincare routine, from beginning to end. Learn More