Answering Your Questions About Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion

by Marie Veronique Skin Experts

Photo of Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion in an amber glass

Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions about our latest product release, Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion

1. Should Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion replace Gentle Retinol Night Serum in my regimen?

Gentle Retinol Night Serum combines an encapsulated retinol with stabilized Vitamin C. This much-loved PM regimen staple will happily support normal skin through its 20s, 30s, and early 40s. It remains our go-to for normal/stable aging skin and hyperpigmentation concerns. If you fall into these categories, this is still the best serum for you.

However, as skin matures in the mid-40s, we often need more intervention. Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion is the retinol we created for people who are looking for a topical that offers more intensive corrective action in the rich, creamy texture we like to use at night. It is best for those who’ve already been on a prescription retinoid or over-the-counter retinol and are looking to replace it with something that is both more effective and formulated without the harsh preservatives typically found in those products. 

Free of fragrance and essential oils, Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion is also suitable for those of any age with compromised skin function and symptomatic inflammatory skin conditions.

2. Can I use both Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion and Gentle Retinol Night Serum

While it's not necessary to use both, it will not negatively affect the skin if you decide to alternate using them on different nights (layering them is redundant). We encourage you to choose one that is best for your current skin needs and stick to a consistent usage cadence as results are best when retinoids are used regularly at night.

3. How do I use Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion

This product is for nighttime use only. To use: cleanse, tone, and apply serums + oil as you normally would. Then to finish, smooth a dime-size amount of Multi Retinol Night Emulsion to the face, neck, and chest and massage in until completely absorbed. There is no need to pause after any steps in this process. 

Note: it is absolutely fine to use Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion alone after cleansing + tonic/mist. Due to its creamy, rich texture, if you have oily, combination, or normal/stable skin you may feel that using Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion is sufficient. 

4. Why is Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion applied last? Will it penetrate if I am using other serums and oils? 

We suggest applying Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion last as it has a rich, cream-like texture that provides an emollient layer to the skin. Applying it over oils will actually enhance penetration for the product. 

5. Do I still apply Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion last if I'm using a cream moisturizer? 

Our collection of oils are the most effective way of providing essential moisturizing components for healthy skin and therefore we do not recommend cream moisturizers. However, if you choose to use one, Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion should go over it as the last step in your PM regimen. 

6. What is the percentage of retinol in Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion

Unfortunately, the percentage of retinol does not tell you much about a product and its efficacy, so we don’t recommend using that number to compare products. For example, we could have chosen to increase the strength of retinol in Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion, but instead we took the opportunity to think more comprehensively about what would really make a more effective product. The answer was to formulate using the latest research about how various retinoids work differently to improve skin function and the importance of protecting the skin’s microbiome, so that’s what we did.

Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion takes a synergistic approach to skin health by combining Encapsulated Retinol + Retinyl Sunflowerseedate + Bakuchiol, which each have unique benefits. This load-sharing approach makes Multi-Retinol Night Emulsion a much stronger all-round age delayer than you’d get if you opted for a higher percentage of retinol. These three retinoid actives make up approximately 1.2 - 1.4% of the formulation.

7. I’ve heard retinol should not be used during the summer. Is that true?

Contrary to popular belief, retinoids do not contribute to photosensitivity. However, using retinoic acid (which is found in prescription retinoids) can thin the outer layers of the skin by about a third, making the skin more susceptible to sunburn. So it is not recommended to use prescription retinoids (or products containing retinoic acid) in the summer.

When you use retinol (which is what we use in our retinol topicals), there is not the same thinning effect and therefore not the same risk of sunburn. Therefore, it really makes no difference what season you use it in. We do advise using it consistently as results are best when retinoids are used regularly at night, all year round!

As always, during the day, we advise wearing our zinc oxide-only sunscreen to prevent damage from UV exposure, along with our Vitamin C serum.

8. Why does it matter that this product is microbiome-friendly?

Prescription and over-the-counter retinoids are typically stabilized with BHA or BHT, which are synthetic preservatives and antioxidants with controversial skin and health risks. BHA, BHT, and many other preservatives commonly used in topicals are microcidal, which means they kill both the good and the bad microbes that reside on the skin. The more we apply products that do this, the more we are at risk for unwanted inflammatory skin symptoms such as rosacea, dermatitis, and breakouts. 

9. Why do we need retinol?

Marie Veronique, along with most dermatologists, recommend it because it remains THE gold standard when it comes to delivering skin health/acne control/age delay benefits that can’t be found in any other compound. When you give the skin retinol, you help it conduct a myriad of biological processes essential for normal skin maintenance and repair. It’s clinically proven to correct photoaging, increase elasticity, even out skin tone, improve barrier function, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol makes skin look younger, bottom line.

10. Will this product irritate my skin?

No, this product will not cause irritation that typically accompanies prescription retinoids. Because of the combination of two retinoids + bakuchiol, you are supporting overall skin function by restoring integrity to all layers of the skin and restoring barrier function. Additionally, we added Sodium Palmitoyl Proline and Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract to reduce surface redness and increase availability of proline, a critical amino acid in protein. Therefore there is no risk of ending up with the raw, dry, sensitive skin you feel post prescription retinoid application.

11. Can this product be used with at home devices?

Yes, it can and it should be. At home devices are mainly used to stimulate collagen production by sending signals to the fibroblasts to make more collagen. This method, unfortunately, can actually accelerate aging of skin. This happens either by increasing stress on fibroblasts so they go into early senescence, which causes inflammation, or by causing other stresses, e.g. heat, that create inflammation. Therefore it is very important to be careful not to over use them and respect proper cadence. Retinol delays and even reverses some skin aging processes by helping to revert skin cells to their pre-senescent state so they send signals of the type that are found in normal, young skin. Essentially, reducing numbers of senescent cells reduces SASP (senescence associated secretory phenotypes) that create inflammation and aging. Aging is all about inflammation, and retinol is a very powerful anti-inflammatory that works at the cellular level. Bottom line, if you are interested in stimulating the skin via these devices then absolutely include a retinol as part of your nightly routine to ensure you don’t tip the scales into accelerating aging!

12. How does retinol work?

Thank you for asking! As we age, overall skin function starts to break down. The cells that signal each other to perform various actions and repair themselves stop sending the correct signals. The fibroblasts, the cells in the dermal tissue that have the most important jobs (they make the connective tissue that gives the skin its strength and elasticity, regulate inflammation, correct improper cell signaling, and regulate enzyme activity, for example), get old and reach their limit of proper function. As a result, they stop producing quality end products and the skin shows signs of aging. As this natural aging process goes on, you get inflammation, which accelerates over time as the skin continues to lose its ability to maintain itself. 

However, when you give the skin retinol, you give it a way to delay the aging process and prevent inflammation. (And note, we are talking about real, encapsulated retinol here, not plant–based retinoids, which simply cannot replicate retinol’s effects.) Retinol works to improve the cell messaging system, which means your fibroblasts get the proper instructions and begin behaving more like they did when you were younger, increasing their ability to create healthy cells. And voila, younger looking skin!


Have a question or need more information about how this applies to your specific skin concerns? You can email us for personalized advice from our estheticians, or browse our Product Recommendations.