Should I Stop Using Retinol or Prescription Retinoids in the Summer?


Updated 7/1/16. If you’re a regular reader of my skin care blog, you know what an advocate I am for the use of either a non-prescription retinol serum (like my very favorite product Advanced Resurfacing Serum) or a prescription retinoid into your skin routine to dramatically reduce the appearance of brown spots, lines and wrinkles and shrink your pore size. Due to the nature of these products, they can make the skin more sensitive and particularly to the sun (more so the prescription version) so is it a good idea to discontinue using it in the summer if you’re spending more time outdoors in the sunlight?

As long as you are diligent about protecting your skin from the sun by using a well-formulated, broad-spectrum sunscreen (like Daily Protection SPF 30 or Age Defense Moisturizer SPF 30) and not getting a suntan or sunburn, the answer is no. You should not stop using it in the summer. The way that retinol and retinoid products work best is by getting it on your skin about 3-5 nights a week. Long term use will change your skin by affecting gene expression to remodel the skin on a cellular level and resurface the texture of your skin, but only when used regularly year round. Going on and off of it will slow down the results, so committing to using it consistently, even during the summer months, is important.

However, if you are someone who enjoys getting a little tan in the summer on your face, I would suggest discontinuing it about four days before you’ll be at the beach, lake or pool and then start using it again two days after you’ve been in the sun. While this will slow down the results a bit, it’s important not to overly inflame the treated skin from the sun.

Read: The Fountain of Youth: Do Retinol Products Really Get Rid of Wrinkles?
Read: Retinol Vs. Retinoids: What’s The Best To Use For Your Skin Type?
Read: Five Ways To Hydrate Oily, Acne-Prone Skin Without Causing Breakouts

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or FaceTime.For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!