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Beginner's Guide to Retinol

September 20, 2022 | BY Stephanie Allen Klasse

When it comes to retinol use, it’s vital to start with the basics. Why? Because retinol is a powerful skincare ingredient that delivers meaningful results, but this power needs to be used responsibly to avoid issues and irritation.

We’re going to cover the basics so you can easily and effectively incorporate retinol into your routine and achieve that goPure Glow!


What is retinol?

Sometimes the term retinol is used as a catchall phrase for various retinoids, but it is a specific derivative of Vitamin A and ingredient.

Retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A and an antioxidant. Vitamin A is one of the body’s key nutrients. Retinoids are a category of ingredients and they come in multiple forms and potency levels. Some are available “over-the-counter” and some need a prescription. It is the most proven and well researched skin care ingredient.

Retinol is one of these derivatives and contains a lower concentration of the active ingredient retinoic acid and may be more tolerable than some other derivatives. Retinol and some other also needs to go through a conversion process in the skin after it absorbs and it is know as a metabolic retinoid.

At goPure we have three different retinol/retinoid products:

Retinol Night Cream: composed of a special cosmetic retinol complex called Retinol MOIST, which is designed with an encapsulation deliver method to keep the Retinol stable and delivered properly. This means powerful, skin-transforming results. It has antioxidant-packed Green Tea and Vitamin B5 to gently soothe the look of skin irritation and it is lightweight and fast absorbing to penetrate deep without the greasy feeling. It is packaged in our signature airless jar to prevent contamination and to dispense the perfect nightly dose. I love this for those that are just starting out with retinol or perhaps for those with more sensitive skin. It can also pair well with a retinol serum for more advanced retinol users.

I love this for those that are just starting out with retinol or perhaps for those with more sensitive skin. It can also pair well with a retinol serum for more advanced retinol users.

Retinol Serum: features the same pure retinol MOIST with no diluted derivatives. It also includes Vitamin E and our proprietary botanical blend. It is pure Retinol, not a retinol derivative, that helps to fade the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots, and sun damage. It also has antioxidant-packed Green Tea and nourishing Vitamin E to soothe the look of dull, uneven skin.

Actives Firm & Lift Serum: features an advanced retinoid you can purchase without a prescription called Granactive Retinoid, or the novel retinoid. This retinoid advanced and highly sought after for two reasons. First, in studies it was found to be less irritating for sensitive skin than traditional Retinol and second, it was found to be dramatically more effective at reducing the look of wrinkles and fine lines, evening out skin tone and visibly reducing redness. It is also up to 10x more stable than traditional retinol. This serum is additionally enhanced with Bachukiol, which is a botanical ingredient that mimics the benefits of retinoids, without the potential for irritation, Vitamin E, and Tamarind Seed Extract, which is a botanical alternative for Hyaluronic Acid. This, combined with our proprietary Botanical Blend delivered inside a clean formula, is one of our most powerful serums to date.

What does retinol (and retinoids) do?

Retinoids offer a multitude of benefits to visibly improve the signs of aging and can improve the appearance of multiple skin concerns in just one step. It improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots and uneven tone and texture, and can minimize the appearance of clogged pores and breakouts. It can be safe for all skin types if used properly, but sensitive skin may have the hardest time using retinol. Even so, there are a lot of ways to use it in your routine and modify the application, as well as different versions of retinoids, so that it can be easier to tolerate.

In our late 20’s, our cell turnover begins to slow and we begin losing collagen in our skin naturally. We also may begin to see the impact of sun damage to our skin as it is cumulative of our past and present. Age 30 is really a great time to start using retinol in your skincare routine, but it is never too late to start.



What are the basic retinol rules?

With consistent use of granactive retinoid or retinol can come redness, dryness, flaking, irritation, and/or burning sensations. We want to make sure we’re not getting this unnecessarily by using it too much or using it incorrectly, so there are a few rules when it comes to using these ingredients and how to avoid this irritation.

• We don’t want to exfoliate on nights we use retinol.
It is important to note retinol can have an exfoliating effect but it is not an exfoliant.

Retinol is best used at night. Sunlight can neutralize this ingredient since it is an antioxidant. Sunlight exposure can also make the skin more sensitive. Because of this, we want to make sure we are always using an SPF during the day when using retinol.
Check out my Importance of Sunscreen blog here to learn more about my SPF recommendations!

Retinol is also best applied after cleansing and toning on DRY skin. Damp skin can make it absorb too quickly and increase the possibility of irritation.

• You only need a pea-sized amount or less when using retinol serums. If you use too much it can cause that unnecessary irritation and even if you think you can tolerate more, you really don’t need it.

Make sure to avoid the eye, nose, and mouth areas as this can lead to dryness and irritation.

Use retinols 1-2x a week to start and see how your skin responds. You can slowly increase the number of days per week if your skin can tolerate it. You can eventually work up to daily use, however, you do not need to use retinoids 7 nights a week to get results.

Be patient. Retinoids can take time to show results. It can take up to 4-6 months to really start to see deep and meaningful results.

• Our niacinamide serum pairs VERY well with retinol and they can easily be used in a routine together.

Don’t forget to moisturize well at the end of your retinol routine!
Find your new favorite moisturizer here! Not sure which one is right for you? Check out our Hydration Haul blog now!

If you have sensitive skin or find you get consistent irritation with retinol use, try sandwiching your retinol between two moisturizers. This is known as the retinol sandwich method.

Do not use retinol or retinoids when your are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What is a good retinol routine?

As mentioned above, goPure has a retinol serum, a retinoid serum, and a retinol cream. They are formulated with different supporting ingredients to soothe and moisturize the skin and boost the efficacy of the retinol itself.

One of my favorite ways to use retinol is to use what I call "the retinol sandwich." This is a method that buffers the absorption of the retinol serum by sandwiching it between two moisturizers. It is especially great for new retinol users, sensitive skin, and seasonal changes that make our skin more dry, like winter. The key is to pay attention to your skin, how it looks and feels, and don’t force progress.

Note: If you are using this method with the Niacinamide serum or other boosters, use them UNDER the retinol sandwich. We don’t want to buffer those with a moisturizer.

Here's the Retinol Sandwich routine breakdown:

Step 1: After proper cleansing and toning, apply 4 to 5 drops of your Niacinamide Booster to your face, neck, and décolleté.  Allow product to fully absorb into the skin for 30 to 60 seconds.

Step 2: Apply your Advanced Repair Eye Cream and a deeply hydrating moisturizer, like our Retinol Night Cream, allowing the product to fully absorb into skin for roughly 2 minutes.

Step 3: Next, apply a pea-sized amount of your Retinol Serum or Firm & Lift Serum to your face, neck, and décolleté, allowing the product to fully absorb into the skin.

Step 4: Finally, apply a second layer of moisturizer or facial oil.

Here's a more active routine:

Step 1: After proper cleansing and toning, apply a pea-sized amount of your Retinol Serum or Firm & Lift Serum to your face, neck, and décolleté, allowing the product to fully absorb into the skin.

Step 2: Next, apply 4 to 5 drops of your Niacinamide Booster to your face, neck, and décolleté. 

Step 3: Apply your Advanced Repair Eye Cream and a your favorite moisturizer.  

The key is to be patient, consistent, and try different options in your routine to see what works for you. The key is to pay attention to your skin, how it looks and feels. Don’t force progress!

Have you tried the retinol sandwich? Let us know the benefits you've experienced since starting retinol in the comments!

Comments (3)


Can I use both the serum and the night cream together at night? I feel no effects using them each separately.
1. Actives Firm & Lift Serum
2. 10% Niacinamide Booster
3. Retinol Night Cream

goPure Beauty replied:
Hello Brenda,

The Firm and Lift serum and Retinol cream works well together and they complement each other’s function. Firm and Lift serum, Niacinamide booster followed by the Retinol cream is a great nighttime routine!

Melissa Ray_


How long are your retinols still safe to use? Do they expire or have a specific shelf life?

Thank you!

Kathy Murgas_

The retinol serum makes my face break out. What is causing this? I really want to keep using it. Thanks.
goPure Beauty replied:
Hello Kathy , We are very sorry to hear about your experience with Retinol. Some people find Retinol cream and serum to be too harsh on their skin. For people with sensitive skin, most are able to tolerate the Retinol application twice a week. You can also do the same and see if it works for you. If you need further assistance, please send us an email at and we will be help you get the right products and routines for your skin type. 👍

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