What is a retinol sandwich? Plus, homegrown retinol serums to try now – Sarinskin
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What is a retinol sandwich? Plus, homegrown retinol serums to try now

by Dr. Ankur Sarin 06 Feb 2023
What is a retinol sandwich? Plus, homegrown retinol serums to try now

Despite its miraculous properties, retinol can leave the skin irritated. Therefore, it’s essential for newbies to ease into the ingredient using the retinol sandwich method. Read on to know more about this simple yet effective technique.

The holy grain of skincare ingredients, retinol is revered for its ability to slow down signs of ageing and also, obliterate breakouts. An over-the-counter (OTC) version of retinoid that is derived from Vitamin A, retinol is treated as the miracle worker of skincare. Discovered back in 1931 by Swiss chemist Paul Karrer who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his efforts. 

Yes, almost a century back they realised the revolutionary properties of the chemical and how it could reverse ageing. We are still harping about its phenomenal properties almost a century later and finding ways to ensure the highest efficacy.

From beauty bloggers to dermatologists, the skincare and wellness industry can’t stop gushing about its multiple benefits. “Retinols are Vitamin A derivatives and they help in the faster formation and better maturation of skin cells. This results in a better skin texture. They also decrease melanin synthesis, which results in an even skin tone. In long term use, they are known to boost collagen and help with fine wrinkling,” confirms Dr Ankur Sarin, MD Dermatology at Sarin Skin Solutions in New Delhi.

Convinced on retinols magical properties and hoping to slather it on at night and wake up with glowing and smooth skin. It’s not as simple, even as first-time users of retinol testify to its benefits they have also shown some side effects. Irritation, redness, dryness and peeling are some of the experiences of first-time users and those with sensitive skin. This is why, before you deep dive into the world of retinol, it’s important to learn about the life-saving hack – retinol sandwich.

Retinol sandwich

What is a retinol sandwich?

“A retinol sandwich is a quick and easy technique to relieve discomfort throughout the ‘routinisation’ (dry, flaky skin during the initial phases of retinol usage) process. It entails tactfully sandwiching your retinol formulation (as suggested by your dermatologist) between two layers of moisturisers. On clean, damp skin, apply the first layer of moisturiser, then the retinol formulation over it, which is finally sealed in with the second layer of moisturiser. Of course, lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturisers are best for acne-prone skin, while creamier moisturisers are apt for dry skin,” shares Dr Janet Alexander Castelino, the founder at DermaZeal Clinic.

“Retinol is a potent ingredient and tends to be drying and irritating for some skin types and this approach helps prevent that. This method helps to prevent any irritation by adding a barrier of moisture between your skin and the retinol,” confirms Dr Mikki Singh, head dermatologist at Bodycraft Skin Clinic.

Do’s and don’t of using the retinol sandwich method:

From treating acne, preventing dullness, promoting plump and firm skin, and minimising fine lines and wrinkles – the benefits of retinol are a strong reason to incorporate retinol into your skin. But care must be taken to achieve the best results. “Using the first layer of moisturiser to buffer sensitive skin before going in and applying your retinol. After that, add a final layer of moisturiser over it. Together it makes a sandwich,” says Dr Mikki.

A popular nightly skincare ritual, here are Dr Ankur Sarin’s suggestions on the process: “Start with a pea-sized quantity and lower concentration. Slowly you can increase the concentration. Always apply at bedtime, a little bit of dryness the next morning is desirable. If there is no dryness at all you may increase the quantity of Retinol. Sensitive skin people may protect thin skin areas like around the eye and mouth with some petroleum jelly and use it 2-3 times a day. Hydrogenated and encapsulated forms of Retinol give longer and better drug delivery.”

Virtually all skincare experts and dermatologists agree on retinol’s brilliance, which is why we are here to help you get started on your retinol journey with some great homegrown finds. Science-backed beauty brands that are changing the face of India’s homegrown beauty industry, and their power-packed retinol serums to try now.

Retinol sandwich

Homegrown retinol serums to add to your skincare shelf: 


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