Can I Use Retinoids In Summer?

There’s no reason why you should stop using retinoids in summer – as long as you protect your skin from the sun! Retinoids can make you more susceptible to sunburn as they act as exfoliators, but we also know from scientific studies that technically retinoids don’t change how your skin reacts to sun exposure. In other words, there is no change in how quickly you burn. And if you are serious about anti-ageing, then you won’t be looking to tan your face anyway!

How to use retinoids in summer safely

When it comes to using sunscreen on your face, it’s best to use SPF 30 and above with a UV star rating of at least three or more. And you should reapply every two to three hours while outside. This is your best defence against sunburn, photodamage – and of course, skin cancer. A mineral-based sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide works best because it sits on top of the skin and is less likely to cause any irritation. The amount of sunscreen you apply is as important as regular reapplication – aim for 2.5 grams of sunscreen to cover your entire face, which is roughly the equivalent of one teaspoon. And don’t forget your eyelids, around your eyes and your ears!

Here are some other things to bear in mind:

  • Avoid long exposure to sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves for additional protection

One extra thing to remember is that because retinoids are powerful exfoliators, you may notice that your facial self-tanner doesn’t have its usual staying power (after all, there’s no point in using a retinoid if you’re going to lie in the sun). So if you’re going on holiday, or attending a special event, consider stopping your retinoid after you have applied your self-tanner to give your fake tan a bit more staying power.

It’s important to bear in mind that retinoid products work best when you use them consistently. Long-term use will change your skin by remodelling the skin on a cellular level. However, it’s key that you use retinoids all year round, as going on and off will slow down the results.

For more information about best practice for using prescription-strength retinoids, contact one of our team. 

Dr Natalia Spierings
Dr Natalia Spierings
Dr Spierings is a leading consultant dermatologist in the UK with a medical degree from St George's University of London. She has a decade's worth of experience treating acne and anti-ageing, and is dedicated to providing safe, efficient and patient-centred care at every opportunity.
Originally published June 28 2018, updated June 30 2020

Leave a Reply