Can Kids Use Retinol? (Quick Answer!)

By KidSpaceStuff •  Updated: 06/14/24 •  6 min read

It can be hard to find your way around the complicated world of skin care, especially when looking for items for younger people. Retinol is a star ingredient that is known for its anti-aging and acne-fighting qualities. But is it okay for a child to use this powerful ingredient in their skincare routine? It’s a question that a lot of parents and guardians think about as they try to give their kids the best.

In this article, we’ll talk about the science behind retinol and how safe it is. We’ll also talk about the pros and cons of using it on young, sensitive skin. Let’s dig in!

Can Kids Use Retinol?

A depiction of retinol

Retinol can be beneficial and is generally considered safe for teenagers and kids 12 and above.

It is essential to introduce it gradually, monitor for any side effects, and always combine its use with sun protection. Before introducing retinol or any other skincare product to a child or teenager’s routine, consulting a dermatologist or skincare professional is recommended to ensure its safety and effectiveness for their specific needs. Retinol can be beneficial and is generally considered safe for teenagers and kids 12 and above.

Understanding Retinol

Retinol is a type of vitamin A used in skincare products. It’s known for helping with things like wrinkles and acne in adults. But when we think about kids, it gets a little more tricky.

Imagine the skin as a big garden. As we get older, sometimes the plants (our skin cells) don’t grow as fast or as healthy as they used to. Retinol is like a special fertilizer that helps those plants grow better. But for kids, their garden is usually already fresh and lively. While retinol can help some teenagers with problems like acne, very young children might not need it.

However, like any other product, retinol can have side effects. Sometimes it can make the skin red or dry. It’s important to remember that everyone’s garden is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, if you’re considering using retinol for a kid’s skin, you should chat with a skin expert or doctor first. They can guide you on what’s best for your child’s garden.

Skin Characteristics of Children

Think of children’s skin like a brand-new notebook – it’s smooth, fresh, and hasn’t been exposed to much wear and tear. Here’s a breakdown of what makes their skin unique:

  1. Thin and Delicate: A child’s skin is like a thin piece of paper compared to the cardboard-like thickness of adult skin. This means it can be more sensitive and can get irritated easily.
  2. More Moisture: Like a sponge full of water, kids’ skin naturally holds more moisture than adults’. That’s why it often looks so soft and plump.
  3. Faster Healing: Ever noticed how quickly kids recover from scratch? Their skin heals faster because it’s constantly growing and renewing itself.
  4. Sensitive to Sun: Kids’ skin is so fresh and new, so it’s more sensitive to the sun. A new pair of shoes can get scuffed up quickly if not protected.
  5. Less Oil: Children don’t produce as much oil on their skin as teenagers or adults. This means they usually only have issues like acne once they get older.

Are you wondering how your skin works? Try to check the YouTube video below.

Appropriate Age for Retinol Use

Imagine skin care as a set of tools in a toolbox. Retinol is one of those tools. But just like you wouldn’t give a power saw to a toddler, some tools are best used when we’re a bit older.

Young Kids 

Children’s skin is like a fresh canvas – soft and new. Usually, they don’t need something as vital as retinol.


When kids hit puberty, their skin can change because of hormones. Some teenagers might get acne. For some, retinol can be a helper, especially from 12 and up. But always start slowly and watch for any reactions like redness.


As adults, the skin can show signs of aging or have continued acne issues. Retinol is often used here, not just for acne but also for wrinkles and sunspots.

Special Notes 

Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should avoid retinol because it’s unsafe for the baby.

Alternatives to Retinol for Kids

Let’s think of skin care like a giant toy box. Retinol is just one toy inside, but there are many other toys (or treatments) that kids can play with safely.

Tips if Considering Retinol for Kids

Imagine introducing retinol to kids as giving them a new bicycle. You wouldn’t let them ride without some safety measures, right? Here’s how to introduce retinol safely:

Tip #1: Start Slowly 

Just like learning to pedal, begin with a tiny amount of retinol. Once a week to start.

Tip #2: Watch for Reactions 

Like checking for wobbles on that bike, look for signs like redness or dryness on the skin. If you see them, it might mean the retinol is too potent or being used too often.

Tip #3: Use it at Night 

Retinol can make skin sensitive to the sun, so it’s like riding a bike in the dark. It’s best to use it at bedtime and apply sunscreen during the day.

Tip #4: Consult an Expert 

Before letting them ride on a busy road, you’d ask for advice. Similarly, before starting retinol, it’s a good idea to talk to a dermatologist or skin expert to make sure it’s right for the child.

Tip #5: Remember Sunscreen 

Just like wearing a helmet when biking, always apply sunscreen when using retinol. It helps protect the skin from sunburns and damage.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, Retinol is generally safe for kids over the age of 12.

While retinol has proven its prowess in the adult skincare, its role in children’s skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all. Like introducing any new element into a child’s routine, it’s essential to proceed with caution, knowledge, and guidance. 

The primary takeaway? While it’s possible for older kids, especially teens, to benefit from retinol’s advantages, it’s always paramount to prioritize safety, understand individual skin needs, and consult with experts. In the vast universe of skincare, retinol is one star, and there are many paths to radiant, healthy skin for our young ones. Thanks for reading!