If smoother, younger-looking skin is your goal, where do you start given all the misinformation in the market-place? In this article we attempt to end the confusion about retinol cream.MYTH #1: You can’t use retinol cream with a topical exfoliantFACT: There is no research that demonstrates that topical exfoliants deactivate or make retinol less effective when used together. Yet, it gets repeated so often, even dermatologists tend to believe it. The confusion is due to concern that the exfoliant will lower the skin’s pH and disrupt the retinol’s ability to work. The fact is, retinol is a waterless ingredient. You cannot establish a pH in a waterless product — even when it is layered with acidic ingredients.MYTH #2: Retinol works better without exfoliants FACT: Research has shown us that retinol cream combined with an exfoliant actually helps fade sun spots, and results are accelerated when you use both ingredients together.MYTH #3: Retinol exfoliates skin, so you don’t need an additional exfoliantFACT: Retinol and exfoliants work very differently and complement each other when paired in a complete skin-care routine. Retinol does its work by stimulating cellular turnover?from the deeper layers up-not?in the uppermost layers. Those uppermost layers are where the topical exfoliant steps in to help skin shed unhealthy, dead, built-up skin cells. Although retinol may cause some flaking and peeling, this is not exfoliation! Flaking is a sign of irritation. If it persists, you’ll want to reduce your frequency of use.MYTH #4: You can’t use retinol during the daytimeFACT: Research has shown that retinol works well under SPF-rated sunscreen. Therefore, you can use retinol during the day as long as you are using a sunscreen on top. Antioxidants plus sunscreen are a formidable defense against wrinkles, uneven skin tone, loss of firmness, and brown spots. For best results, be sure to apply antioxidant-rich skin-care products morning and evening.MYTH #5: You shouldn’t combine retinol with vitamin CFACT: Vitamin C is another ingredient often cited as a problem when combined with retinol cream. This one is also based on the pH/acidity issue. Vitamin C often requires a low pH to remain stable. We know retinol works in an acidic environment and that skin’s pH is naturally acidic, therefore, here’s a clear case where the coupling of these two products makes sense. The combination of retinol and vitamin C has proven to work wonderfully to defend skin against free radicals when applied under a sunscreen. It fights free radicals, a process that helps protect retinol from oxidization as it penetrates deeper into the skin-thereby increasing its anti-aging benefits. One could argue that not using retinol with vitamin C (or some other potent antioxidant) puts your skin at a disadvantage. Bottom LineThere is no research anywhere that supports the misguided assertion that retinol is deactivated when combined with acidic ingredients, and there is plenty of research that demonstrates the opposite.