Does the idea of trying retinol scare you?
Those worries are fair enough – adding retinol to your routine can come with a period of flaky, sensitised skin, which is something we’d all rather avoid.
And yet, many of us persevere with this special ingredient as, once the initial irritation passes, skin can look visibly renewed and youthful.
One technique being recommended to those with sensitive skin is ‘retinol sandwiching’ – which is designed to help skin adjust to the strong active ingredient.
What is retinol sandwiching?
Cigdem Kemal Yilmaz, skincare formulator and founder of Skin Masterclass, says: ‘Retinol is a potent ingredient that could cause sensitivity, especially at high concentrations above 0.5%.
‘Applying retinol in between two layers of moisturiser (a retinol sandwich) is the technique of application I suggest if you are just starting with retinol, and it is your first time trying the active ingredient.’
This could mean layering it on after a thin application of moisturiser, which acts as a barrier, then putting more moisturiser on top.
A moisturiser barrier means there’s less penetration of the product deep into the skin, so it can help sensitive skins get accustomed to retinol in a gentler way.
This should only be seen as a temporary solution though, so you can get the full benefits of the ingredient.
Cigdem says: ‘Reduction in penetration will mean that results are not as effective.
‘Ideally, you need to get to a point where your skin can tolerate the use of retinol before the moisturiser to achieve the clinically-backed results of renewing the skin cells faster, protecting the collagen by fighting off free radicals, and stimulating new collagen and elastin.
‘Once the skin is adapted after 2-3 weeks, you can remove the first layer of the sandwich and apply the retinol on cleansed skin, followed by an emollient-rich moisturiser.
‘If you want to avoid sensitivity, or do not want to go through the time to adapt to retinol, try a retinol concentration of 0.3%.
‘If you tried the retinol at a low concentration, even with the sandwich method and your skin still could not tolerate it causing you irritation, I suggest replacing your retinol with bakuchiol which is proven to give you similar results without the negative side effect of irritation.’
Sandwiching can be a good way in though – so it’s worth a go.