Should You Mix Salicylic Acid and Retinol During Menopause?


As we enter perimenopause and menopause, it's no secret that our skin undergoes some significant changes. Aging skin tends to be drier and less elastic than younger skin, and we might start experiencing the breakouts we dealt with as teenagers again. It's incredibly frustrating to be dealing with breakouts and aging skin simultaneously! Is there a way to tackle both at once? 

The answer is yes, by using salicylic acid and retinol. But proceed with caution so you don't irritate your skin! 

Salicylic acid is the gold standard for acne prevention, and topical retinol is the first-line treatment for wrinkles and loss of elasticity in aging skin. Keep reading to learn how to add salicylic acid and retinol into your skincare routine safely!


Retinol and Salicylic Acid—What's the Difference?




Retinol is a retinoid derived from vitamin A. It's available in over-the-counter creams and gels, and more potent formulas are available by prescription. Topical retinol helps boost collagen production, thicken aging skin and unclog pores. Increased collagen adds to our skin's elasticity, making our skin appear tighter, and thicker skin minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol also speeds up healthy cell regeneration, supporting the growth and reproduction of new skin cells.


Salicylic Acid


Salicylic Acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) chemical exfoliant. It helps fight acne while also evening skin tone and unclogging pores. BHAs like salicylic acid are similar to alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), but BHAs tend to be less irritating to sensitive skin.


Can You Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol?


If your skin can tolerate both salicylic acid and retinol, then you can absolutely add these ingredients to your regular menopause skincare rotation! Even though many of us get drier skin as we move through menopause, it's not unheard of for menopausal skin to become oily. If you're dealing with oily skin and breakouts, salicylic acid is an essential ingredient to add to your skincare routine because it unclogs pores and clears away oil and dead skin. 

If you've tried salicylic acid for acne without luck, try talking to your dermatologist about your options as there are different underlying reasons for breakouts. Fluctuating hormones, stress and a high-glycemic diet are a few of the common culprits of acne and other menopausal skin conditions. Tackling your acne from a different angle using androgen blockers or a similar option may yield better results.

To combat the impact of everyday stressors and the Standard American Diet (SAD), try adding a skin-supporting probiotic like our You Glow Girl Probiotic Skin Supplement. It's packed with billions of good bacteria that support healthy estrogen levels and GI function, along with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C for optimal skin health. You Glow Girl is designed to help rebalance the gut with good bacteria supporting overall wellness and smoother, brighter-looking skin.


How to Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol


There are a few options for using salicylic acid and retinol together. Before you do, though, try patch-testing a small amount of each product on your wrist. If you notice redness or itching, using salicylic acid with retinol might not be a good idea. But if you feel no reaction to either one, then here are three ways to add salicylic acid and retinol safely:


1. Apply Salicylic Acid and Retinol on Alternating Days


Adding salicylic acid and retinol on alternating days is a gentle way to ease your skin into using a retinoid and BHA. Using each product for 3 or 4 days per week allows you to gradually adjust the amount of product used for your skin's unique needs. If you're susceptible to redness, irritation or inflammation, use your salicylic acid and retinol in the evening so your skin will be calm by morning.


2. Use Salicylic Acid in the Morning and Retinol at Night


This option is pretty straightforward: Simply alternate between using each product every 12 hours. This cuts the time between product applications in half, from 24 hours to 12 hours. The order doesn't matter in terms of efficacy, but because retinol can cause more sensitivity to sunlight, it's best to use retinol at night and apply salicylic acid products in the morning.


3. Mix Salicylic Acid and Retinol into Your Moisturizer


This option is not for the faint of heart! If your skin tolerates both ingredients well and you're looking for an easy way to streamline your skincare routine, try adding equal parts of your salicylic acid and retinol to your regular facial moisturizer. Because salicylic acid can be drying, this method helps prevent dryness by adding moisture immediately. 

Adding salicylic acid and retinol simultaneously can be irritating, so if you opt for this method, keep an eye out for any redness or signs of irritation. If redness or irritation occurs, give your skin some time off from retinoids and BHAs to clear up any irritation. To give your skin an added retinol boost from within, try adding a supplement like our Significant Other Hair, Skin & Nails Supplement. It packs retinol in the form of retinyl acetate and boosts retinol levels to support healthier-looking hair and skin! 

Pro tip: If you add topical salicylic acid and retinol to your skincare routine, a high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen is required. Of course, you should always wear sunscreen when you're outdoors, but it's absolutely essential if you're using salicylic acid and retinol together because these products make our skin extra sensitive to harmful UV rays! 


Tell Us: Have you tried adding salicylic acid and retinol to your menopause skincare routine? Share in the comments below! 

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Better Not Younger knows that aging skin comes with its own unique needs, especially as we enter menopause. Salicylic acid and retinol both help fight common signs of aging skin like thinning, dryness, discoloration and rough texture externally. For better skin health and wellness from within, we have supplements and probiotics specifically formulated for optimal hair and skin health at midlife!