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From Traveling Tips To Layering: All Your Winter Retinol Questions, Answered

“Actually, the answer here is a bit complicated,” says Ciraldo. If you’re having no trouble with your retinol (i.e., no irritation, redness, or peeling), then feel free to carry on with your usual routine. If you are facing increased irritation during winter, Ciraldo suggests first checking whether you’re using a retinol or retinoid. Retinol is strictly the OTC version, which means it’s less potent and usually less irritating; retinoid, on the other hand, is the blanket term for the entire category of vitamin A derivatives, including both OTC and prescription-strength options–the latter of which can lead to more irritation.

That said, you may need to switch up the type of retinol you’re using, rather than resorting to a lower concentration. Perhaps find one that comes buffered with hyaluronic acid or ceramides, which can help mitigate some of that dryness.

Says Ciraldo, you can also edit your frequency: “Try using the product at half the frequency you are now using,” she notes. (Like one to two days per week instead of three to four.) “And always apply retinol in front of a well-lit mirror; never apply it to areas that are red, dry, or irritated,” she adds. Then, if you’re experiencing irritation with these changes, Ciraldo suggests swapping with a lower-strength product.

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