Can People With Sensitive Skin Use Retinol? - AN Skin & Beauty

Can People With Sensitive Skin Use Retinol?

Retinol is known as the queen of anti-aging, and for good reason! Whether you use it for creating new and healthier skin, reducing wrinkles, or smoothing textured skin, it's a top tier skincare ingredient that provides stellar results! It may surprise you that retinol can be used on even the most sensitive skin… When used correctly and in the right form, of course! Let’s discuss what forms of retinol may be best suited for your sensitive skin!


Sensitive skin is a condition where the skin barrier is unable to tolerate certain active ingredients and the skin becomes aggravated easily. A sensitivity can be a reaction to ingredients in skincare products, soaps, or makeup products. Have you ever had a skin reaction that was caused by a skincare ingredient and resulted in a temporary breakout, rash, burning sensation, or itchiness of the skin? These are all possibilities of a skin reaction due to sensitivity. In addition to skin and ingredient reactions, certain skin conditions like Rosacea or Eczema on the face can also cause skin sensitivity. We understand that it can be frustrating and uncomfortable having a reaction to a product that you really wanted to love. It has possibly deterred you from trying other products in fear of a reaction happening again, right?

Oftentimes, the reason for these sensitivities and reactions are due to a weakened skin barrier. For those with sensitive skin, we recommend starting with a basic skincare routine to get the skin adjusted to using a sequence of skincare products. Starting out with just the basics will help strengthen the skin barrier so you can eventually add in the more active skincare products, like retinol, and reduce incidence of skin sensitivity!

Take our FREE skincare quiz to find out if you have sensitive skin!


Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that stimulates the skin cell turnover rate, which is a process that slows down as we age. Healthy skin cell turnover is every 28 days, but as we get older, this slows down, causing dead and dull skin to sit longer on your face, keeping your skin from looking youthful. But fear not, retinol to the rescue! This powerhouse ingredient is clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles while increasing collagen production for brighter, smoother, and more youthful looking skin! Not only will retinol increase the functionality of skin cell turnover, but it’ll also stimulate the production of new blood vessels below the skin creating a more even-toned complexion. The benefits of retinol also help to smooth textured skin/roughness and reduce hyperpigmentation, including redness. Retinol is the #1 anti-aging ingredient for flawless skin, so we definitely say: give it a try!


Less is more AND can be even more effective! Just because someone is using a high concentration of retinol, it doesn’t mean it's more effective. A higher concentration of retinol can actually lead to a higher risk for irritation and skin barrier damage (which then lowers compliance, meaning that people are more likely to stop using it or use it less frequently.) This is why we’ve formulated our Retinol Pads with 0.25% active retinol. This specific concentration is recommended by dermatologists for anyone that is wanting to begin using medical grade retinol and can even be a safe concentration for sensitive skin. 0.25% is clinically proven to induce positive change in the skin and is gentle enough for anyone with a healthy skin barrier! Like we said before, less is more with retinol. You don’t want to use a concentrated retinol every single day. Retinol needs time to stimulate new skin cell turnover and new skin growth to reveal healthier and smoother looking skin. For this reason, we recommend starting out with one Retinol Pad per week so the active ingredients perform their job properly for the best results. You can eventually use these pads 2 or even 3x/week! And don’t forget to moisturize after!


At A|N Skin & Beauty, our greatest mission is to create skincare products that everyone can use and love! We pride ourselves on using the best quality medical grade ingredients that are gentle enough to not cause skin barrier damage while bringing positive results! If Retinol Pads somehow cause skin sensitivity for you, you may want to try a gentler form of retinol like Retinyl Palmitate, found in our Triple Antioxidant C Serum

Retinyl Palmitate: Retinyl Palmitate and retinol are both from the retinol family, however, Retinyl Palmitate is technically a precursor to retinol, and it is slow absorbing, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin (it is also pregnancy-safe)! This gentle ingredient effectively boosts collagen production to minimize fine lines and wrinkles while creating more youthful and smoothed skin without the irritation that may be associated with a retinol concentrate. Retinyl Palmitate can be found in our Triple Antioxidant C Serum and is so gentle on the skin that this product can be used daily!

Retinol Alternatives: Some peptide complexes have retinol-like activity. If you do have true sensitivity to retinol, this may be a great option for you! Our Age Defying Neck Cream highlights how our formula works like retinol! To effectively combat the negative effects of aging, we use an advanced peptide complex in our neck cream formula. The peptide complex is a combination of amino acids that are utilized by the skin to help increase collagen production and improve elastin. These peptides help to firm the skin and help it appear more youthful! This unique blend of peptides creates a “retinol-like” activity that promotes and enhances cellular regeneration without the irritation you may experience with an active retinol. You also can find result driven peptides in our Peptide Balancing Toner and Restorative Eye Cream!


Note: If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant, please avoid using any products with retinol. 


So you’ve used medical grade skincare for a while now and have strengthened your skin barrier. Is it time to add in a retinol? We think so! If you’re wanting to be proactive and prevent fine lines and wrinkles, and smooth your skin, add our quick and easy treatment pads to your skincare lineup or begin with a gentler approach like our Triple Antioxidant C Serum. These are all amazing and effective ingredients to help increase collagen production and skin cell turnover rate. Don’t forget: Retinol is important to incorporate into your skincare routine because both collagen production and skin cell turnover rate slow down as we age. Keep your skin looking vibrant, healthy, and youthful by adding in our 0.25% Retinol Pads!





Written by: Lauren Hayden, Edited by CEO and Medical Aesthetician, Ashley Nordman

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.