When To Use Retinol Serum In Routine

Makeup and skincare are the tools we use to help us look our best. But what if we could take it a step further and…


Makeup and skincare are the tools we use to help us look our best. But what if we could take it a step further and use them to help us look younger? That’s where retinol comes in. It’s a vitamin A derivative with proven anti-aging benefits. Retinol helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, while also promoting collagen production to improve the skin’s firmness and elasticity. It also speeds up cell turnover, which can make your complexion appear brighter.

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Retinol is one of the most effective ingredients for reducing wrinkles, spots, and inflammation—but how do you know when it’s time to add this superstar ingredient into your routine?

You probably already have some products that contain retinol, but maybe not enough! If only there was a guide out there that could tell you exactly when and how much of each product to use… oh wait! This post is it!

Retinol is one of the best ingredients to combat signs of aging, spots, and breakouts.

Retinol is one of the best ingredients to combat signs of aging, spots and breakouts. It’s a form of vitamin A and a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

In What Order Should You Use Skincare Products?

If you’re wondering what order to put your skincare products in, here’s the basic process:

  • Serums go on first, followed by sunscreen. If you have a cleanser, put it on first. If not, skip it and move right along to toner and moisturizer.
  • Toner goes on second (most people use this as their main astringent). If you’re using a toner after cleansing (whether with a cleanser or not), apply it now before moving onto moisturizer application.
  • Moisturizer goes last because it locks everything else into place while providing some added hydration—and we all love that!

The Best Time to Use Retinol

Retinol is a powerful ingredient that can help you achieve a youthful complexion. Here’s what you need to know about using retinol:

  • Retinol should be used at night. It can make your skin sensitive to the sun, so use your sunscreen during the day and apply retinol at night after cleansing, toning, and exfoliating. You can also apply it before bedtime for maximum benefits.
  • Apply it only once a week or so at first. As with any new product, start out by applying retinol every other night until your skin acclimates to the product (this usually takes about two weeks). Then gradually increase frequency of use over two months, until you’re using it nightly if possible.*

If you need to add retinol to your routine, you’ll want to use it at night.

Retinol is a retinoid, which simply means it’s derived from vitamin A. The difference between retinol and retinyl palmitate (another type of vitamin A derivative) can be seen in their molecular structure: Retinol has one less methyl group than retinyl palmitate. This small difference makes it more potent than its cousin — so much so that when you first start using products with this ingredient, they may irritate your skin.

If you decide to add this powerful anti-aging ingredient to your routine, make sure to use it at night! Retinol degrades quickly when exposed to sunlight, so wearing sunscreen during the day will help protect your newly exfoliated skin while giving it time to heal between applications of serum or moisturizer containing this ingredient.

But what if you already use a glycolic acid serum in the morning?

But what if you already use a glycolic acid serum in the morning? It’s fine to continue using it. But if you want to add retinol to your routine, do so at night. Retinol is more effective at night than during the day because it has a higher level of risk when exposed to sunlight and UV rays. Glycolic acid on the other hand can be used in both cases since it’s less sensitive to light.

If you want to use the retinol and glycolic acid serums together, apply the retinol first.

If you want to use the retinol and glycolic acid serums together, apply the retinol first. You can then follow up with your glycolic acid serum.

  • Apply your retinol at night before bedtime. This will help maximize its effects on skin renewal while you sleep. It’s best to apply it after cleansing and toning but before moisturizing so that it can easily penetrate into your skin without any interference from other products on top of it—especially if you’re using an SPF product or makeup in the morning.
  • Glycolic acid should be applied in the morning before applying sunscreen or makeup if possible (but make sure not to get it in your eyes!). Otherwise, simply wash off after 10 minutes—you’ll notice small flakes come off along with dead skin cells when you rinse!

Should You Use Serum and Moisturizer Together?

A serum and moisturizer can be used together as long as they’re compatible. If you’re using both, apply your serum first, then follow up with a moisturizer.

When using both serums and moisturizers, it’s important to take into account the combination ingredients in each product. A good rule of thumb is not to pair two products that contain the same active ingredients—for example, if one contains retinol and another contains vitamin C or E. The reason for this is that mixing too many different active ingredients at once can cause irritation on your skin’s surface. If you want to incorporate multiple powerful actives into your routine (which we strongly recommend), stick with just one at a time until you’ve gotten used to it before adding more; then repeat this process for each new active ingredient.*

For help figuring out what order to apply your skincare products and designing a personalized routine, take our quiz here!

It’s important to use the right products in the right order. To help you figure out what order to apply your skincare products and design a personalized routine, take our quiz here!

In addition to being able to use our quiz for free, we have hundreds of other quizzes on our site as well. Our quizzes are all designed by experts and can be used for everything from cooking recipes to home decorating ideas. So if you’re looking for some new inspiration, take one of our quizzes today!

You should use retinol at night, but if you have another serum or treatment that’s going on top of it, that one should go on first.

While it’s true that retinol can be used at night, you can also apply it in the morning if your skin is especially dry or if you’re using a product over top of it. The key is to make sure that whatever you’re applying after the retinol has absorbed into your skin. If you’ve got an SPF moisturizer on, for example—and we recommend using one every day—make sure your SPF moisturizer has absorbed before adding anything else to your routine (like makeup).

The same rule applies for treatment products like salicylic acid or glycolic acid: treatments should go on first and then wait until they’ve dried before applying any other products in your routine.


If you’re looking for a product that will help reduce wrinkles, acne scars, and sun damage, retinol is one of the best ingredients to use. Retinol helps restore collagen production in your skin and increases cell turnover rate so that old cells are replaced with new ones more quickly. Using this ingredient on its own doesn’t always work though—especially if you have sensitive skin or haven’t used retinols before! We recommend using it alongside glycolic acid so that both exfoliate at high levels without irritating skin too much.

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