Can Retinol Make Wrinkles Worse?

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We all want to hide the signs of aging. We can’t stop them, but we can soften the hard edges to keep them at bay.

One of the most-hyped products for wrinkle reduction is retinol. Retinol is a non-prescription version of Tretinoin and can be found in many skincare products. Serums, creams, eye creams, moisturizers, you name it. 

Although many swear by its effectiveness, there are some who find it worsens their wrinkles. Can retinol make wrinkles worse?

The short answer here is yes, retinol can make your wrinkles worse if it is not properly used. 

Any product that you use incorrectly can backfire on you. That is why it is very important to get to know the products that you are using before you decide to use them. 


Why Do My Wrinkles Look Worse After Retinol?

The Ordinary Retiol 1%

When you research what retinol does for your skin, you’ll get a lot of explanation that says it helps with exfoliating your skin and increasing the production of collagen. These will eventually lead you to have skin that is smooth, plump, and with less visible fine lines. 

However, some people are shocked to see that their skin goes in the opposite direction!

You may also be one of those who just started using retinol and is quite disappointed or panicking about how your skin looks right now. 

If you are, take a deep breath and relax for a moment. The wrinkles that you might be seeing right now could just be temporary, and may go away in a couple of weeks

One of the side effects of using retinol is having dry and irritated skin, known as the retinol uglies. Some people develop very dry skin and acne build-up, leading to visible lines. These aren’t wrinkles but they could be just due to the dehydrated skin. 

One of the side effects of using retinol is having dry and irritated skin, known as the retinol uglies. Some people develop very dry skin and acne build-up, leading to visible lines. These aren’t wrinkles but they could be just due to the dehydrated skin. 

Dehydration lines may make it look like your wrinkles are worse because there are more of them. 

By making sure that the skin is hydrated, you can lessen the appearance of dehydrated skin that looks like it has a lot of wrinkles. As the retinol is used, elastin and collagen are produced, which will then further help make the skin look plump and supple. 

This could be the reason that people warn about the purging period when you use retinol, Tretinoin, etc. The dryness caused as a side effect makes the skin look worse. However, you can help avoid this stage by making sure that your skin is adequately moisturized. 

Another side effect of retinol is that it makes your skin more sensitive to UV light. UV has an aging effect on the skin and can make it look worse. If you are using retinol, you need to make sure that you are adequately protecting your skin from UV rays. 

That means you have to use sunscreen.

Although you really need to use sunscreen during the day time even if you are not using retinol products, the effects of the UV are more obvious and your skin is more sensitive when you are using retinol. 

If you are using retinol, you need to make sure that you are adequately protecting your skin from UV rays.


Retinol Causing Wrinkles Under Eyes

One of the areas where people are likely to get wrinkles are around the eyes. Whether it is on the sides or under them, it’s quite common for aging skin. 

As you use retinol, it may seem that the retinol is the cause of wrinkles under the eyes that weren’t there before. Previously I’ve said that retinol can cause skin dryness, which is why you see lines on the skin that may not really be wrinkle. 

The skin under the eyes is one of the most delicate areas on your face. The skin there is quite thin which is why some people have dark under-eye circles.

The problem with those delicate areas is that it is not as capable as other areas in your skin when it comes to retaining moisture. When you use retinol eye creams or other retinol products on the skin under the eyes, dryness in the area could happen. 

Although retinol can cause dryness in every area of your skin where you apply it to, the dryness may be more visible in the area under the eyes. Your undereye area could look worse than the rest of your face because of the delicate skin there. 

Dryness could look like lines. That’s why your undereye could look like it has wrinkles when it is just dry and dehydrated. The lines may not appear in the other areas easily so they may only be visible under your eyes. 

When you take measures to keep the area under your eye hydrated, you can correct the lines that were caused by dehydration or skin dryness. 


How To Properly Use Retinol

Now that you are aware that dryness is a side effect of retinol, you could do some things to your skin to help avoid developing lines due to it. 

One of the things you can do is to keep your skin moisturized. When you use retinol products and it seems that your skin is reacting negatively drying up or being irritated, you can try using moisturizers to help the skin. 

However, if the skin is already severely irritated, stop using the retinol and let the skin heal first. Remember that moisturizers aren’t the only things that you should apply to your skin when using retinol – you should also use sunscreen. 

Sunscreen will help protect your skin as it becomes more sensitive to UV light due to the use of retinol. By helping protect your skin against other causes of skin aging and irritation, you can make things work with retinol use. 

It can help boost the collagen and elastin in the skin to help make it look better but you also have to deal with the dryness and irritation that it can cause. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).