Another day, another bit of misinformation on the internet. For one reason or another, it’s a common misconception that retinol exfoliates the skin. Wrong, my dears, retinol actually encourages skin cell turnover, leaving behind dead skin cells as it works, which some might say is actually the opposite of exfoliation... but I digress. If you don’t do the work to get rid of these new dead cells, you might find your skin is dry, flaky, and dull. Of course, this is where an exfoliant like Mandelic Acid comes in to become your retinol routine’s new best friend.
I like to recommend Mandelic with retinol because it’s nice and gentle and won’t irritate the skin. Working in the skincare studio, I find that a lot of clients are using exfoliants that are way too harsh for their skin, resulting in redness and irritation, especially when retinol is in the mix. Mandelic Acid, on the other hand, is a gentle AHA with a large sized molecule, helping it absorb more slowly and evenly into your skin. This results in gentler exfoliation without irritation.
Now, how to combine them. I always recommend separating your actives to avoid overwhelming and irritating your skin, so since retinol and mandelic are both actives, alternate your retinol every other night and use the Mandelic Clearing Serum in the nights between. (Alternatively, you can use Mandelic in the morning and retinol at night if your skin likes this more.) Alternating between the two will create a healthy cycle in which retinol is increasing cell turnover and leaving dead skin cells as proof, and then Mandelic is following the next evening to clean it all up and leave a stunning glow.
As for the rest of your routine, skip any other actives that might overload your skin and keep the rest of your products simple, hydrating, and supportive of your skin barrier. You don’t need me to tell you to use SPF, but in case you needed a reminder, here it is. Your skin, I promise, will thank you.