Why Retinol and SPF are an Essential Beauty Duo

Why Retinol and SPF are an Essential Beauty Duo


When it comes to skincare, everyone is different. What your skin needs can vary greatly depending on your skin type, age, and environment. . But there are two products that come dermatologist-recommended as essentials in *everyone’s* skincare routine, no matter your skin type: retinol and sunscreen.

By now, most of us understand the importance of daily sunscreen wear. It not only protects your skin from melanoma, but also from sun damage, which can prematurely age your skin (think: sun spots, fine lines, wrinkles).

That’s also where retinol comes in! Considered the gold standard of anti-aging, retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that speeds up skin cell turnover rate and decreases collagen breakdown, resulting in a smoother texture, brighter tone, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, and a youthful glow. If your skin is already showing signs of sun-damage, retinol can help reverse and erase!

But in order for your skin to reap the full benefits of the age-defying powerhouse that is retinol, sun protection is a MUST!



We all know UV rays are a force of nature – on top of damaging skin, they can fade curtains and couches, turn hair color brassy, and yes, even degrade retinol’s effectiveness. As such, it’s best to apply retinol as part of your nighttime routine so it can work its magic uninterrupted by light while you sleep. Follow with generous SPF throughout the day to not only continue to protect retinol’s effectiveness but to ensure you don’t reverse your results with more sun damage.

Another reason why SPF is a must when using retinol? To protect your new layers of skin. As noted, retinol works by boosting your skin cell turnover rate. This causes your top layers of dead skin to shed more quickly, bringing newer, more delicate skin to the surface. When this happens, your new layer of skin essentially has an initiation by fire to UV exposure (rather than under the protection of dead skin cells). This makes them way more vulnerable to sun damage. For maximum protection, don’t use anything less than SPF 30 or SPF 50.

The TL;DR version: The two rules of using retinol

1. Only apply at night

2. Wear generous amounts of sunscreen throughout the day

Pro Tip: Traditional retinols too harsh for your skin? Try our MD Revitalize Retinol Serum, which was dermatologist-developed for even the most sensitive skin! Made with a gentler encapsulated retinol, it’s able to move its way deeper into the skin before it's activated to avoid the side effects of dryness, peeling, and irritation that you may get from traditional retinols. Plus, soothing ingredients, like chamomile, seaweed extract, caffeine, aloe and niacinamide, help calm the skin to prevent irritation. 


Yes! Just make sure you only apply retinol at night and wear a generous amount of sunscreen throughout the day, reapplying whenever you’re in the sun.


Because retinol can be irritating and requires lots of sun protection, you want to build a skincare routine that incorporates lots of soothing, calming and hydrating ingredients, plus multiple layers of SPF. Here’s our reco:

Evening Skincare Routine Step 1: Wash Away One Step Cleanser

This gentle but effective face wash clears away all impurities – even water-proof makeup and mineral SPF – plus hydrates + lightly exfoliates in a single step. Skin’s left super clean and more receptive to your skincare products.

Step 2: MD Revitalize Retinol Serum

Encapsulated retinol, plus calming, soothing ingredients, help smooth, tone and revitalize skin overnight for a more youthful, glowing complexion by morning.

Morning Skincare Routine

Step 1: Wash Away One Step Cleanser

Cleanses away impurities, hydrates and lightly exfoliates in a single step for super clean skin that’s more receptive to the rest of your skincare products.

Step 2: Daily Perfecting Moisturizer SPF 30

Your first layer of sun protection, this hydrator uses hyaluronic acid, ceramides, moisturizing oils and more to keep skin moisturized from AM to PM while also providing broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection.

Step 3: Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 OR MD Mineral BB Creme SPF 50

Add a second layer of sun protection with either of our multitasking tinted formulas. Both serve as a makeup-gripping primer with age-defying benefits and powerful broad-spectrum protection. For light tinted coverage, use Mineral Tinted Creme. For a more medium tint, use MD Mineral BB Creme.