The Retinal Sandwich Method Explained

The Retinal Sandwich Method Explained

So you want smooth and supple skin, which means picking up a vitamin A (hey, we have one of those!). Only you’re a tad worried this active ingredient might be too active for your dry/sensitive/newbie skin. 

Welp. There’s a sandwich for that! Not the hydration kind. Not the toasted kind. But the very useful retinal-based kind. A sandwich - skincare hack - that minimises irritation and discomfort. 

First, what is retinal? 

The retinoid family is made up of derivatives of vitamin A (that’s why these terms are sometimes used interchangeably). There are many different ingredients that fit under the retinoid umbrella, but two of the most popular are retinal and retinol. You might be more familiar with the latter. 

Retinal and retinol need to be converted to retinoic acid (which happens naturally once applied to the skin), in order to get to work on the skin-brightening, collagen-boosting, acne-reducing. But retinol is two steps away from converting to retinoic acid while retinal is just one step - a direct precursor

In less science-y words: Retinal is essentially better, faster, less irritating, our favourite of the two. 

What is a retinol sandwich?

Put simply, it’s a layer of retinal between two more occlusive layers, like moisturiser. (Or oil, if that's what your skin prefers.) So instead of applying your active cream or serum to freshly cleansed skin, you moisturise first, then apply retinal, then follow up moisturiser again. Giving 60(ish) seconds between each layer of course. So every step can be properly absorbed into the skin.

Are there any benefits to this method?

The biggest advantage to the retinal sandwich method is that it can help prevent potential skin irritation. (Think: itching, flaking, redness.) The first occlusive layer of moisturiser acts as a cool buffer between vitamin a and your skin, leaving less room for retinal molecules to sink in, andlessening discomfort when first introducing the product into your skincare routine. 

Making retinal sandwiches might mean your skin can tolerate more frequent use too! Upping your application from 1-2 nights a week, to 2-3. But we still recommend starting slow. Just keep track of how your skin looks and feels.  

Potential cons?

It’s not a toasted cheese sandwich.

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