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

use retinol in summer

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 or a prescription retinoid into your skin routine. Doing so will dramatically reduce the appearance of brown spots, lines, and wrinkles as well as shrink your pore size.

Due to the nature of these products, they can typically make the skin slightly more sensitive including to the sun. (More so the prescription version.) Is it okay to use retinol or retinoids in the summer or should you stop using 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) 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.

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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 and heat. New to retinol or prescription retinoids? Read my beginner’s guide.

Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”