If you’re into skincare, you probably have heard the term, “retinoid” before. But, do you know what it means, or if retinoids are even appropriate for your skin? Let us help you out!

Definition of a Retinoid 

A retinoid is a derivative of Vitamin A. This class of vitamin A derivatives has been used in skin care since the ’70s.

How do they Work?

Retinoids increase cell turnover, so the skin is continually sloughing off damaged cells and healthy skin is always what you see on top. Retinoids also thin the top layer of skin, the stratum corneum, while thickening the smoother second layer, the epidermis, which makes the skin look luminous and firm. Retinoids also help clear dead skin cells, oil, and debris from pores, leaving them less distended; retinoids even decrease oil production—which is great for those who have acne.

What type of skin is it good for? 

You can find a retinoid that can work for your skin, as long as you do proper research.

Dry Skin

If you have dry skin, you’re going to want to use a retinoid that’s hydrating. This means retinoids in an oil suspension.


Sunday Riley Luna Night Sleeping Oil 

Olay Intensive Repair Treatment 

Hyperpigmented Skin

Be careful when using retinoids if you have hyperpigmented skin! Chances are if you have hyperpigmentation, you’re using a vitamin C serum. Vitamin C can make retinoids inactive. Instead, use a vitamin C serum in the morning to prevent further dark spots and a retinol product in the evening to repair damage.


You can use any retinoid you like, as long as you don’t use it in combination with vitamin C.

Not sure if you have hyperpigmented skin? Check out our post to be sure.

Sensitive Skin 

Those with sensitive skin are the most likely group to shy away from using retinoids. But, they can still reap some of the rewards, as long as they ease into it slowly. Start with retinol derivatives (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl linoleate) or natural forms of retinol (like chicory root, tara tree, and beggars stick flower), which are all gentler and less irritating.


Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum

Squeeze Green Watery Eye Gel Cream

Acne-Prone Skin 

Retinol is great, but it needs some back-up. Use a face wash with benzoyl peroxide (an anti-inflammatory) or salicylic acid (which helps dry out excess oil) in the morning, and follow up with a retinoid at night, which will help stimulate cell turnover and lessen any post-pimple dark spots.


Differin Gel