What Strength Retinol Should I Use?

Retinol is a research-backed, proven anti-ageing ingredient. Everybody can benefit from using it, but what strength should you use? Put simply, how much retinol your skin needs, depends on your skin type and concerns as well as your skin’s tolerance for it. You can work out your skin’s tolerance by experimenting with different strengths and usage and seeing how your skin responds.

How much retinol is the right amount?

Paula’s Choice Skincare offers a range of retinol products in a range of strengths and textures to meet the needs of various skin types and concerns.

To get the best results, retinol products should be used with other anti-ageing products that contain rejuvenating ingredients, skin-replenishing ingredients, antioxidants and restorative ingredients such as niacinamide. While retinol is an anti-ageing superstar, improving the appearance of ageing skin requires more than just one ingredient.

Lower-Strength Retinol

If you have never used retinol before, or have dry and sensitive skin use a lower-strength retinol. You will see brilliant results, especially when applied daily.

What results can you expect?

Even small percentages of retinol can benefit your skin. Percentages of 0.01% retinol are greater are proven to be effective at improving multiple signs of ageing, reducing pore size and overall improving the health of your skin. Paula's Choice Skincare retinol products also a contain a blend beneficial ingredients, such as antioxidants, peptides and emollients for even better results.

Research also shows that lower percentages of retinol combined with other antioxidants helps your skin fight against environmental pollution when you wear it during the day with a wide-spectrum sun protection. (Always use SPF 30 or higher during the day).

These are Paula's Choice products with low percentage of retinol. Depending on your skin type and/or concern, you can alternate them with products containing a higher percentage of retinol.



These products with lower retinol percentages are also ideal for combining with our boosters or treatments.

Moderate - Strength Retinol

If you experience skin concerns like uneven skin tone or texture and a visible loss of firmness, try adding a stronger retinol product to your routine. Start by using 2-3 nights a week and build usage to see how your skin responds.

What results can you expect? Moderate percentages of retinol (0.04% to 0.1%) give you results faster than lower percentages of retinol. Research shows that retinol concentrations of 0.04% and great could counteract the visible effects of environmental damage and visible thinning of skin. Whereas, a 2009 study showed that using a higher percentage of retinol (0.1%) gave noticeable results within 8 weeks in improving multiple signs of ageing.

Paula's Choice has two different formulas with moderate percentages of retinol. One for face and one for body.



Higher-Strength Retinol

For those with stubborn skincare concerns, like deep wrinkles and pronounced uneven skin tone, you may want to consider a product with a higher percentage of retinol, between 0.5% and 1% retinol.

What results can you expect?

Higher percentages of retinol provide quick results for skincare concerns that may not have responded to lower percentages of retinol.

These are the Paula’s Choice Skincare products that contain a higher percentage of retinol:


  • Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment - A powerful amount of retinol, combined with vitamin C, peptides, antioxidants and soothing ingredients to minimises any potential irritation. This lotion formula addresses the most advanced signs of skin ageing. Suitable for any skin type, especially for normal to dry skin.
  • 1% Retinol Booster - This water-light booster with 1% retinol produces powerful results! This booster provides similar results to the CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment, but the texture makes it more suitable for normal to oily or oily skin. You can apply it underneath or with your moisturiser or serum.


Can you combine Retinol with an AHA or BHA?

There is a common misconception that you can’t combine retinol with an AHA (glycolic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant. In actual fact, research showed that the anti-ageing benefits of retinol are boosted when you combine it with an AHA (glycolic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant in the right amounts.

Tip: As both retinol and AHA or BHAs are active ingredients, keep an eye on how your skin reacts when used together. You may need to experiment to find the right balance for your skin.

Choose the right retinol product for your skin needs

Armed with this knowledge about the strength of retinol you should use for your skin type and concerns, there's nothing stopping you from getting great results. Do not forget to protect your skin from UV damage every day with an SPF higher than 30, even when it’s cloudy.

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