Retinoids: Your Complete Guide

Retinoids for glowing skin and anti ageing face serum

Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A

What can they do to the skin?

Retinoids can enhance key cellular functions - enhanced cell proliferation, biosynthesis of extracellular proteins and glycans, and improved cellular turnover. These are helpful in fighting and reversing signs of aging. 

  • Anti Aging 

  • Decreases the effects of UV induced sun damage

  • Helps clear acne-related symptoms

What's the right age to start using retinoids?

If you don't have acne or sun damage or texture issues you can skip it in 20s 

Start late 20s or early thirties. If you have acne issues, you can start in your late teens or twenties. 


Anti ageing face serum and anti ageing face cream


Who should be using Retinoids?

You must use Retinoids:

  • If you are seeing signs of sun damage- pigmentation and wrinkles

  • If you would like to see improvements in your skin texture 

  • If you have acne

You can use RetInoids in your early 20's

  • If you have acne
  • If you are seeing signs of sun damage- pigmentation and wrinkles

  • If you would like to see improvements in your skin texture like scars or wrinkles

  • It doesn't do any additional damage if you start early. It will improve how your skin looks. 

What’s the best % to start with 

  • It is best to start with the lowest % available

  • Retinal or Retinaldehyde can be found from 0.01%-0.10%

  • Retinol 0.2-1%

  • Granactive 1-5% ( effective Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is 0.1%- 0.5%)

  • Retinol Esters (Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl propionate) are found around 0.5%

  • Tretinoin, which is prescribed by derms, is the most effective and also most irritating. Hence you can ask them for guidance on how to deal with irritation. Else you can use milder ones. And also remember to start slowly. 

  • Also, use less irritating ones like Granactive.

Retinoid Comparison 

Retinoid Comparison


How to minimise irritation from Retinoids?

Retinoids can be irritating and irritation can lead to more pigmentation or acne based on skin type. But there are several ways to minimise it.

  • Start with lower strength

  • Take the smallest amount

  • Start with twice a week

  • Don't apply immediately after facewash as penetration will be higher, apply after 30 min or 1 hr

  • Apply a rich emollient cream or vaseline before retinol, don't apply on bare skin after facewash

  • Apply, leave on for 30 min and wash off, for the first 2 weeks, later you can apply and leave. 

How to control purging & sun sensitivity?

You can start slowly in the mentioned ways to avoid or reduce purging. Retinoids try to reduce the effects of sun damage. But the use of Sunscreen is a must. If you can take care of the irritation, you won't see much sun sensitivity.

When must one avoid any form of Retinoid?

When planning to conceive, while pregnant and while breastfeeding.

Why use Granactive over other forms of Retinoid and how to use it

Granactive seems to be much less irritating than many retinoids but at the same time effective

How to start using Retinoids?

2 Week + 2 Week + 2 Week Plan 

First two weeks - twice a week

Second Two weeks - Alternate Days

Next two weeks - 5-6 days a week 

Progress as your skin takes it. And step back if your skin shows any signs of irritation. 

Quantity - Take a few drops and apply, but please don't use a lot like a moisturiser or a massage oil. Less is more with actives especially retinoids. 

Is it beginner friendly?

Granactive is one of the least irritating and most effective retinoids. If you want to be super careful start with 1 Drop added to your moisturizer, 2 times a week, for the first 2 weeks. And then Alternate days for the next 2 weeks and then daily. 

How to layer it up with other products?

Wash your face, apply moisturiser, then apply retinoid. You can layer it with Niacinamide or Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Antioxidant Serum)

Don't use acids at the same time/day as Retinoids. You can use alternate days. If you are experienced users then give a gap of 15 min between an acid and Retinoid.

Anti Aging Routine can be,


  • Vit C Serum 

  •  Moisturiser 

  • Sunscreen


  • Moisturiser 

  • Niacinamide Serum

  • Retinol

Acne Routine with Retinoids can be

  • Niacinamide Serum

  •  Moisturiser 

  • Sunscreen


  • Moisturiser 

  • Retinol / BHA alternate Days