Does Retinol Help Wrinkles? Here’s Exactly What It Does for Your Skin

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A common ingredient in anti-aging skincare products, retinol is touted as the go-to for so many different skin concerns. Acne, dark spots, dullness, the loss of firmness – this multi-tasking ingredient has a broad appeal, but how good is it really when it comes to helping with wrinkles?

Read on as we explore the potential wrinkle-busting effects of retinol in more detail. We’ll also share the best ways to incorporate the ingredient into your skincare routine for maximum benefits.

What is Retinol?

Retinol belongs to a group of ingredients called retinoids, all of which are forms of vitamin A. 

Once retinol is absorbed by the skin, it’s converted into a compound called retinaldehyde, which then turns into retinoic acid. This is the active version of the ingredient – the one that your skin cells can use.

woman with serum

What about Prescription Retinoids & Retinoic Acid Products?

Prescription retinoids usually contain pure retinoic acid. This means that no conversions need to take place in your skin once the ingredient is applied, which makes the formula so much more potent.

That said, studies show that the effects of retinol are very similar to those of prescription-strength retinoids, with the main difference being that retinol simply takes a little longer to work [1].

What Does Retinol Do for Your Skin? The Short & Long Term Effects and Benefits of Retinol + Before and After Results

Retinol is revered for its wide range of benefits, with its key effects being:

  • Boosts collagen production to smooth away wrinkles and improve skin elasticity [2]
  • Slows down over-active oil glands to clear pores, reduce their visibility, and prevent acne breakouts [3]
  • Accelerates cell turnover to improve skin tone and texture
  • Fades dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation [4]
  • Provides antioxidant properties to neutralize free radicals and keep skin cells at their healthiest

Is Retinol Bad for You? Does It Have Any Side Effects & Can It Make Wrinkles Worse?

Retinol is a very safe ingredient to use. In fact, it’s one of the most researched skincare ingredients available and definitely retinol won’t make your wrinkles worse.

smiling female

However, some people still choose to avoid it because of potential side effects. These include redness, dryness, flaking, and peeling, and are most common among those with sensitive skin types. 

The more powerful your retinol product, the higher your chances of experiencing side effects. In order to avoid these as much as possible, it’s important to understand exactly how to use retinol.

How to Use Retinol

Ready to learn how to properly incorporate retinol into your skincare routine? Read on…

How Much Retinol to Use & Where to Apply Retinol

It’s always best to begin with a low concentration of retinol – 0.25% is a good starting point. However, even with a low-strength product, you should only use retinol 2-3 times a week for the first few weeks to give your skin some time to grow accustomed to the ingredient.

smooth smile

Retinol is safe to be used all over the face, although some people choose to focus the ingredient on wrinkled areas.

Should You Use Retinol Every Day? Here’s How Often to Use Retinol + What Happens if You Use Too Much Retinol

Once your skin has learned how to tolerate retinol and any side effects have subsided, you can then start to use retinol every day. Once a day is more than enough – don’t be tempted to overdo it with twice daily use, as this could prove to be too much for your skin.

If you do end up going overboard and using too much retinol, you’ll most likely experience some of the side effects mentioned above.

aspiring girl

When to Use Retinol & When to Stop Using Retinol

Due to how it speeds up cell turnover, retinol can make the skin more sensitive to UV rays. For this reason, the best time to use retinol is in the evenings when your skin is safe from sun exposure.

If you experience side effects from retinol that last for more than a few weeks, then it would be a good idea to stop using the ingredient. There are milder versions available that you could try instead, such as retinyl palmitate.

How Long Does Retinol Take to Work? Here’s How to Tell if Retinol is Working

The amount of time that you’ll need to wait to see the effects of retinol will depend on the concentration of retinol that you’re using. Since retinol should be gradually introduced at low strength, it takes a few weeks for the ingredient to really get going.

After this, you should start to see initial results after a couple of months, with these continuing to improve for the next 6 months or so.

ALSO CHECK: Best Wrinkle Cream for Sensitive Skin


Q: Can retinol make wrinkles worse?

No, retinol doesn’t make wrinkles worse.

Q: What age should you start using retinol?

Ideally, a person should start using retinol when they’re in their 20s. This way, retinol acts as an aging preventative, rather than just a treatment.

Q: What strength retinol is best for wrinkles?

A concentration of 0.5-1% retinol is best for wrinkles.

Q: Does retinol make you age faster?

No, retinol slows down the skin aging process.

Q: Does retinol help with dark spots and age spots?

Yes, retinol is very effective at fading dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation.

Q: What is retinol cream?

Retinol cream is a cream that contains retinol, a derivative of vitamin A. Check the concentration of retinol in the cream to see how powerful that formula will be.

Q: What are the symptoms of retin a damage?

Redness, dryness, and a mild burning sensation are common symptoms of retin a damage.

Q: Is retinol dangerous?

Redness, dryness, and a mild burning sensation are common symptoms of retin a damage.

Conclusion: Is It Worth Adding Retinol to Your Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine?

Due to the wide range of ways in which it can benefit the skin, retinol is an ingredient that has a place in just about every anti-aging routine. Not only will it help to diminish your fine lines and deeper wrinkles, but it’ll also keep your skin looking bright, firm, soft, and radiant.


Avatar for Megan Foley

Megan has been a freelance writer and editor since 2016. In that time, she’s penned a diverse collection of articles for online publication, with a focus on skincare and beauty. From in-depth product reviews to concise marketing content, Megan is passionate about developing content that informs, entertains, and inspires.