Derms Say Retinol Body Lotions Are the Key To Smoother, Firmer Skin—These Are the 10 Best
Ask any dermatologist and they'll tell you that retinol is the gold standard in treating many signs of aging. From smoothing fine lines and wrinkles to fading age spots, retinol has been used to treat a wide range of skin issues. Most folks know about the benefits retinol has for the face, but did you know that this all-star ingredient works wonders for your body too?
Below, we've covered everything you need to know about retinol body lotions—the benefits, the downsides, what to look for, and much more.
Retinol is perhaps the most effective ingredient that dermatologists have to treat aging skin. "Retinol helps stimulate collagen to strengthen the foundation of the skin," explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, director of clinical and cosmetic research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, and medical advisor for JORI Skincare. "This means improved texture, more even tone, and fewer lines and wrinkles. It is commonly used in face care products, but is more recently being incorporated into body care."
When applied on the body, retinol body lotions can even out skin tone, moisturize, and address crepe-iness. The benefits of retinoids have also been noted in studies for lessening the negative impact of photodamage and treating acne, according to Erum Ilyas, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, Pa. But just as with the face, she notes that some people will be more sensitive to retinoids than others. "It may be necessary to decrease the frequency of use or the strength to improve tolerability."
While effective, retinol can potentially cause skin irritation in the first two to four weeks of use, as your skin acclimates to it. "You may be used to applying body moisturizers daily, but in the case of retinol-containing products, I say start every other day or two," says Dr. Zeichner. "Retinol thickens the lower skin layers, but does thin out the outer skin layer, known as the stratum corneum—this gives the skin a dewy glow, but it also increases the risk of sunburn, so it is even more important to wear sunscreen daily."
What to Look For in a Retinol Body Lotion
Because retinol can be drying, it's important to find a retinol body lotion that also adds moisture back into the skin. "When purchasing a retinol body lotion, recognize that dryness or irritation may be a barrier to use," explains Dr. Ilyas. "Seek out products with hydrating ingredients such as coconut oil, argan oil, and/or hyaluronic acid to offset the dryness."
When should you start using a retinol body lotion?
Dr. Zeichner recommends starting a retinol product after the age of 30, when skin cell turnover starts to slow down. "Don't wait for there to be significant sagging or wrinkles to start addressing aging skin," he says. "It's far better to keep the skin strong and prevent wrinkling than it is to get rid of wrinkles after the fact."
Because pure retinol is unstable in UV light, it's recommended to apply a retinol body lotion in the evening. "Don't apply too much, because it can increase the likelihood of irritation," explains Dr. Zeichner. "Rather than a liberal application like you would do for a regular moisturizer, use as little as you can to cover the entire treated area."