What is retinol? When should I start using Retinol? How to choose the right Retinol? User guide for dummies

Retinols or Retinoids are the holy grail of the anti-aging skincare kit, a magic molecule that every dermatologist will recommend as part of an effective regimen… but what is Retinol?

Retinoids, the technical term, is a molecule in the vitamin A family that increases collagen production and skin cell renewal, delivering the following 4 benefits:

- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles and minimizes the appearance of new ones

- Brightens complexion by exfoliating at a cellular level for a smoother, more evenly toned skin

- Regulates oil production to unclog pores and reduce breakouts

- Fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation

Now that we know the benefits of Retinol, when should I start using it?

You can begin using retinols in your early to mid-twenties. You don’t really have to wait for wrinkles to appear before you start using this magic ingredient, so it can be used as a preventive tool.

Retinols become a must after the age of 30, when your skin’s cellular regeneration cycle slows down, making your face look dull and triggering the appearance more age lines. Retinol will prompt your body to accelerate cell turn-over and get that cycle back on the fast lane.

It usually takes 60-90 days of continuous use to see results, but it is well worth the wait!

Ok, I am ready to use Retinol, how do I choose the right one?

Not all retinols are made equal. Most commercial retinols don’t contain the right concentration levels or have the right conditions for the ingredient to actually work. Retinol is a highly reactive ingredient that easily breaks down and loses effectiveness when exposed to sunlight or air.

So, choose a high-quality retinol with the right concentration and potency level (Concentration levels for clinical-grade Retinols range between 2X to 10X) to maximize results. We recommend stabilized all-trans retinol, the purest form of this molecule, and getting it from a dermatological lab that goes the extra mile to protect it from degrading before it reaches your skin (packaging is key).

Younger or sensitive skins might go for 2x-3x concentration levels, normal skins in mid-aged patients might go for 5X and older patients might try higher concentration levels.

It is normal for patients to experience dryness as a result of their retinol treatment, and even temporary redness, peeling and increased sensitivity. This is why some of the most advanced retinols in the market incorporate other soothing, calming and moisturizing ingredients such as green tea, hyaluronic acid and caffeine.

You can find the most advanced, clinical-grade retinols in the market by visiting our PURA shop at

Here you can find 2 alternatives:

- Advanced Retinol Smoothing Serum:

H45X potency, pure all-trans retinol enhanced with green tea polyphenols, hyaluronic acid and caffeine USP. Great for most skin types.

- Gentle Retinol Smoothing Serum:

The same product but with 2X potency, ideal for sensitive and dry skin types.

For a complete personalized skincare routine, that includes the right retinol for you, complete our 3-minute PURA diagnostic quiz at

Here is a short clip from Dr. Saurabh Lodha, leading NY dermatologist, explaining some tips on choosing the right retinol.

Now that I have my retinol, how do I use it?

Best way to use your retinol is as part of a personalized skincare routine. Retinols should be used at night (they make your skin more sensitive to the sun) and in the right amounts (don’t need to over-use it). Also, sunscreen is your retinol’s best friend – you MUST wear sunscreen every day.

If you are new to retinol, we recommend you begin applying it just 2x per week for two weeks, if dryness, peeling or redness don’t occur, slowly increase frequency to 3x-4x per week over time, until you can finally start using it every night.

May the power of retinol be with you!


How often should I use my face moisturizer? 4 tips on maintaining optimal skin hydration

We all know how much we need a moisturizer in our lives, especially during winter time, when the cold climate makes our skin dry and more sensitive.

It seems pretty simple, just go to any store and pick-up something with the label moisturizer on it… at the end of the day, they are all the same, right? WRONG.

When it comes to choosing the right moisturizer, and knowing when to apply it, there are so many options and myths out there that it makes it difficult to make an informed decision.

No need to worry, here are 4 tips that break down the art of keeping your face hydrated and looking at its best:

1. Moisturize as often as needed

There is a myth that you only moisturize in the morning, or 2x a day at most. That is not true. Get to know your skin and adjust how many times you apply your moisturizer based on the season and on your unique needs. Is your skin feeling a bit dry or tight even though you moisturized a few hours ago? Go ahead and apply additional moisturizer, even if that means using your moisturizer 3 or 4 times a day.

2. Choose parabens-free, non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic products

Parabens are chemical preservatives thought to be toxic and linked to health problems such as breast cancer. Non-comedogenic means that it wont clog your pores, reducing the likelihood of developing acne. Hypoallergenic means they are more gentle and produce fewer allergic reactions, especially helpful for those with sensitive skin types.

3. Use oil-free alternatives

An oil-free moisturizer is usually better than heavier oil-based options. They are especially important on users with acne-prone, oily or combination skin. They use alternative ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or green tea polyphenols to provide the same effect as essential oils do and have a lighter texture.

4. Load up on antioxidants and botanicals

Superior moisturizers shouldn’t just hydrate, but also serve as a vehicle to nourish your skin with antioxidants, botanicals and other molecules to enhance your skin and help it get through the day. We are big fans of moisturizers containing Hyaluronic Acid, Resveratrol, Vitamin C, E and A, Green Tea Extracts, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Ceramides, Squalene, Caffeine, Co-Q10, Yucca Root and advanced apple stem cells. These additional ingredients deliver anti-aging benefits, help your skin fight external environmental agents, and have soothing and calming functions, while helping the main goal of hydration.

5. Here is a short clip from Dr. Saurabh Lodha, leading NY dermatologist, explaining some tips on choosing the right retinol.

Here is a short video from Dr. Lodha explaining how to keep your skin hydrated, even during winter time:

At PURA, we offer clinical-grade, high potency moisturizers that check all the boxes above, backed by thousands of peer reviewed clinical studies and medical journal publications. You can check them out here: There is one for each unique skin need:

- Vitamin Fortified Moisturizer:

Our everyday moisturizer fortified with vitamins C, E and A, Glycerin, and nourishing Green Tea in an Aloe base, to deliver smoother, softer skin. Great for all skin types.

- Biotherapy Restorative Moisturizer:

A high-performance restoring moisturizer infused with potent antioxidants and botanicals to repair the skin’s barrier function, and reduce signs of aging. This moisturizer is recommended for people with dry skin, aged 55+, or anyone needing an extra hydration boost.

For a complete personalized skincare routine, that includes the right moisturizer, as well as the right cleanser, retinol, sunscreen and enhancer, complete our 3-minute PURA diagnostic quiz at

Now it’s time to get the power of hydration working for you!


How to choose the right face cleanser for your unique skin needs?

Most of us are used to washing our face twice a day and using regular soaps to do so… this is how we have always done it. The truth is, this is not the right approach to cleansing your face; lets discuss why.

Let us start by explaining the difference between soaps and cleansers.

While they both remove dirt and oil from your skin, Soaps “saponify” your skin, they remove natural lipids leaving behind sulphates that increase or alkalinize the PH levels of your skin (your skin is naturally Acidic, with a normal PH level between 4-6). This can lead to unnecessary irritation, weaken your skin’s natural lipid protection layer, and leave it feeling dry and tight, worsening underlying skin conditions such as acne, rosacea or eczema.

Cleansers, on the other hand, are gentle and soothing even on sensitive skin, and remove dirt and excess oils without affecting your skin’s natural protective barrier, and without over drying.

Lets hear about the difference between soaps and cleansers directly from Dr. Saurabh Lodha, founder of PURA, diplomat at the American Board of Dermatology and Clinical Instructor at Columbia University:

Now that we know cleansers are better for your face, lets look at how to choose the right cleanser for YOU.

1. Always choose a PH balanced cleanser

2. Select cleansers that contain antioxidants and natural botanicals to help hydrate and replenish your skin. Some of our favorite include Green Tea Polyphenols, Vitamins C, E and A, Bisabolol, Yucca Root Extract, Chamomile Extract, Ectoin, Bisabolol, Co-Q10 and Levender Oil

3. For most skin types, including those with dry skin, a gentle and soothing cleanser that checks the boxes above is enough to maintain your face at its best; however, certain skin conditions might require the use of additional ingredients.

4. For people with Hyperpigmentation (dark marks) or Rosacea (redness), a cleanser that includes pure 10% Glycolic Acid will help to brighten and smooth your skin, reduce redness and irritation, while providing a gentle exfoliating effect without affecting the natural moisture barrier of your skin.

5. For people with mild Acne, a gentle face wash containing Benzoyl Peroxide 5% will be enough to provide antibacterial protection and help keep those breakouts under control. For those with tougher cases of Acne, moving to a more concentrated Benzoyl Peroxide 10% wash with soothing Aloe to reduce irritation is ideal.

Check out our clinical-grade line of dermatological cleansers, and choose the one that’s right for you at

- Green Tea Antioxidant Cleanser

- Botanical Enriched Glycolic Acid Cleanser

- Benzoyl Peroxide Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser (5%)

- Benzoyl Peroxide Exfoliating Cleanser with Aloe (10%)

You can also take our PURA Skin Diagnostic to create a full personalized skincare routine to match your unique needs – to get your results just complete a 3-minute quiz about your skin, lifestyle, and the environment around you:

Quiz Diagnostic Skin Care :

At PURA we believe in using only the highest quality ingredients, with higher concentrations of the active molecules that actually make a difference on your skin. Our formulas are backed by thousands of peer reviewed clinical studies and medical journal publications.

For questions email us at

Which sunscreens are better, chemical or physical ones?

This is a recurring question from many members of our community, and one we can answer without hesitation: whenever possible, choose a physical sunscreen.

Let us explain the differences between physical and chemical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens are made of molecules such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Homosalate, among others, which are absorbed by your skin, convert UV rays into heat and release them from your body.

They are the most widely used sunscreens in the market – in fact it is very likely that the sunscreen you currently use is a chemical one. 

These sunscreens have come into question in recent years given how they bleach fragile coral ecosystems around the world – in fact, over 40,000 tons of chemical sunscreen are thought to wash into our oceans every year. Places such as Hawaii have already banned the use of Chemical Sunscreens in their territory, ushering a new era of reef-safe alternatives. 

Another shortfall of chemical options is how long they take to start working; they only begin protecting your skin 20-30 minutes after being applied (By the time you realize this you might already be sunburnt)

Furthermore, skins with certain conditions such as acne, rosacea or eczema might be too sensitive for these chemical alternatives.

On the positive side, these tend to be lighter, so they usually blend in better and layer well with other skincare products.

Physical sunscreens are mineral based, using Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide to create a natural shield against UV rays, sitting on top of your skin, without being absorbed into your bloodstream.

These sunscreens are usually reef-safe, and have become a widely used alternative at popular seaside destinations in their efforts to protect coral reef ecosystems.

Another advantage of this alternative is that they start providing protection right away, so you can apply and go without exposing yourself to harmful UV rays.

Because Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide don’t get absorbed by your skin, they are the preferred choice for people with sensitive skin or other conditions such as acne, rosacea or eczema.

Most physical sunscreens are thicker than their chemical counterparts; however, there are dermatological lines offering sheer physical alternatives that blend in well.

The winner? Physical Sunscreens.

In this short clip extracted from one of his popular PURA Skin Chats, Dr. Lodha settles the debate between using Chemical vs. Physical sunscreens and invites you to make a better choice for your health and for the environment.

Before we forget - make sure you use sunscreens that are enhanced with antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E and A, Resveratrol, Green Tea Polyphenols and Niacinamide, which supply a second line of protection when the natural antioxidant defenses of your skin weakens.

You can find a great selection of high quality clinical-grade Physical Sunscreens SPF 50+ by visiting Our sunscreens provide a high broad-spectrum UVA/UVB physical shield and are enhanced with advanced antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients for additional protection. Choose the one that fits you unique skin needs:

- Antioxidant Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+ (Sheer and Tinted):

Pure physical stabilized broad-spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 50+ protection plus potent antioxidant agents in a light, transparent finish formula that is gentle on all skin types, including sensitive skin. Works well for Acne-prone skin and Hyperpigmentation. Tinted version provides a healthy touch of color for all skin tones.

- Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 (Sheer and Tinted):

Mineral-based stable broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection with the moisturizing power of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help brighten and even skin tone in a lightweight formula. Works well for all skin types. Recommended for patients with Dry skin or Rosacea. Tinted version provides a healthy touch of color for all skin tones.

- Antioxidant Essential Mineral Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+:

A great option to complement your routine whenever you need sunscreen on-the-go. Brush powder applicator delivers a gentle broad-spectrum UVA/UVB 30 formula with antioxidant protection and oil control, in a light-translucent matte color that blends in sheer with most skin tones.

You can also take our PURA Skin Diagnostic to create a full personalized skincare routine to complement your sunscreen – to get your results just complete a 3-minute quiz about your skin, lifestyle, and the environment around you: 

At PURA we believe in using only the highest quality ingredients, with higher concentrations of the active molecules that actually make a difference on your skin. Our formulas are backed by thousands of peer reviewed clinical studies and medical journal publications.

For questions email us at


I am tired of ‘trial-and-error’ skincare; how do I stop this vicious cycle?

Most of us have gone through frustrating cycles of ‘trial-and-error’ skincare, piecing together regimens that didn’t deliver the desired results, right?

It’s actually pretty common; most people are used to just buying a generic product off-the-shelf driven by nice packaging, brand recognition, or by the description on the label. I myself used to buy every shinny thing out there, cluttering my bathroom with all sorts of creams and serums hoping for a miracle.

The truth is every skin is unique, and the ‘one size fits all’ approach to skincare doesn’t really work too well… unless you are ready to stop and learn a bit more about your unique skin requirements, and about how different products might or might not be suitable to you, your skin won’t improve the way it should. So how do you stop this trial-and-error skincare cycle? Self-awareness + Having the right ROUTINE + Discipline.

It is important to understand how your GENES, your LIFESTYLE and the ENVIRONMENT around you play a role in your skin’s health… things such as age, skin type, sensitivity level, exposure to sun and pollutants, and even sleep or eating habits can have an impact on how your skin looks and feels…

For example:

  1. if you have acne-prone skin you might need a water-based moisturizer, and a benzoyl peroxide wash…
  2. if you have sensitive skin you might need a gentler retinol containing soothing agents
  3. if you have an active lifestyle and heavier sun exposure you might need a sunscreen that is water-proof and has a higher level of SPF protection…
  4. If you suffer from redness you might need special antioxidant and calming agents to counter this condition

We could go on and on about unique scenarios… now try putting all these variables together, sounds daunting… how would you choose the right products? Where would you start?

At PURA, we have taken the guesswork out of skincare by designing a unique diagnostic ( that incorporates dermatological science into an algorithm that is able to sort through thousands of variables and deliver skincare routines tailored to the needs of every customer, sounds amazing, right?

It designs a unique routine containing a soap-free cleanser, a nourishing moisturizer, a potent retinol, a physical sunscreen and, if you have a specific skin condition, an enhancer to help you take your skin to the next level. The combination of cleanser-moisturizer-retinol-sunscreen-enhancer varies for every person…

Over 95% of patients see visible results within the first few weeks of using a disciplined skincare routine. Its all about making it a habit and spending 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening to get your skin fit. It only takes 10 minutes, or 0.69% of your day! Your skin will thank you for it.

See you next time!

The PURA Team


I want to have better skin, where do I begin?

Hi, I am Dr. Saurabh Lodha, the founder of PURA Skin Lab and the leading Physician at PURA Dermatology in NYC.

Welcome to our community of skincare enthusiasts, and get ready to learn more about your skin through our PURA Skin University initiative. Our goal is to help educate people on all things related to skin, providing you with relevant information, tips and resources to improve the way you look and feel.

Let’s get started…

I have seen thousands of patients go through frustrating cycles of ‘trial and error skincare’, spending money on off-the-shelf products, and piecing together regimens that did not deliver results.

The truth is most people can achieve better skin by adhering to simple habits.


The first step is to understand:

  • How your Genes, your Lifestyle and the Environment, play a role in your skin’s health, and what are your unique skincare requirements (‘one-size-fits all’ doesn’t work well with skincare). Don’t go around buying products without first knowing what you really need.
  • The power of following the right end-to-end skincare routine as part of your daily lives (vs. mixing and matching random products). Buying single products without knowing how they work together is not the right approach. Make sure you have a routine made up of products that reinforce each other to address your specific needs.
  • The importance of using higher-grade, potent, prescription-level ingredients (instead of mass commercial grade products with lower concentrations). Do your research and learn a bit more about the ingredients and the concentration levels of active molecules in each of your products. There is usually a reason why some products are more expensive: they contain better ingredients and higher concentration levels that work at a biological level.

If you are reading this, you have probably completed our PURA Skin Diagnostic – if not, you can always do our short 3-minute assessment by going to 

…by answering 20 simple questions our artificial intelligence algorithms can evaluate your responses and design your personalized 4-5 product skincare routine to match your unique needs. Sounds fun, right?

PURA uses non-chemical pure physical Sunscreens, which are environmentally friendly.

As part of this vision, PURA has committed to donate a % of its sales to the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), the world’s largest coral NGO in the world to help its efforts to save these fragile ecosystems. Why is this important to us? Find out why in this note from CRF:

We also host periodic webinars as part of our educational mission, touching on some of the most popular subjects related to skin and discussing common truths and myths – visit to sign up for free. This is a great space for me to answer questions about skincare, discuss topics about specific skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, dryness and hyperpigmentation (dark spots), and explain some of the most popular ingredients in skincare formulations, including Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Glycolic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Vitamin C, and Ceramides, Green Tea, Resveratrol and many more.

Our goal is to make you more knowledgeable about skin so you can make better informed choices! If you live in NY you can always visit us at PURA Dermatology, my private practice in Manhattan, and make an appointment 

Also, you can see reviews at

Here are some fun links to interviews and notes I have done in various media outlets where I explain a bit more about skincare:


Video on most Googled questions about Skincare:
Play Video


Blog about facial injections:

Welcome to the PURA family! Sincerely,

Dr. Saurabh Lodha MD

American Board of Dermatology
Founder of Pura Skin Lab.