If you launch with a super-strong retinoid and use it every night, you’ll probably get a “retinoid reaction,” which may consist of redness, excessive dryness, irritation, etc. “If you’ve never used a retinol or retinoid, make sure to start no more than two or three times a week at night,” Doyle says. If you have sensitive skin, don’t use retinol more than twice a week. Be sure to leave a few days in between using retinol, too (i.e., start skin cycling).
“The skin requires an adjustment period before you can more consistently use it,” Doyle says. Starting low and slow (in terms of concentration and cadence) will help minimize the risk of those more intense side effects—though some redness and dryness is to be expected with any new retinoid.