How to use Retin-A

Since August, Retin-A has been a part of my skincare routine. Wary of potential irritation like dry, flaky skin, I did tonnes of research on how to use Retin-A.

Here are 6 tips that are really helping.

How to use Retin-A

  • Apply on dry skin

After washing your face, wait 20-30 minutes before applying Retin-A. Retin-A penetrates damp skin faster, which can irritate it. I’ve been told that once the skin adjusts this tip may not be necessary, so we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Start slow + A little goes a long way

Retin-A comes in different strengths. 0.025% is the weakest and 1% is the strongest. Start with the weakest.

A pea sized amount is enough for the face. Dab it on the forehead, cheeks and chin then spread thinly. If you use a cream formula like I do, you will have more time to blend/spread, not so much with the gel formula.

I barely put any Retin-A on my nose and around my mouth because anything other than a BHA toner twice a week will cause it to dry and flake.

  • Buffer with moisturizer

After thinly blending the Retin-A,  your face may feel dry, like mine. So I immediately apply a moisturizer on top. The first time I applied Retin-A, my face felt all tingly so I was glad to have La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 on top to soothe the skin and reduce potential irritation.

Some people prefer to apply Retin-A on top of the moisturizer, so it’s really up to figuring out what your skin prefers.

  • Start slow

There’s no need to rush it with Retin-A. Start using it once a week for at least a month before using it twice or thrice a week. I tested this out. There was this week I tested it out and used it thrice.

OMG, my skin was like, “Nope!” I started breaking out. Now I know, Retin-A twice a week is enough to make my skin happy.  

  • Never forget the sunscreen

Retinoids make your skin more sensitive to the sun so slathering on the SPF during the day, even though you use Retin -A at night,  is non negotiable. 

  • Give the skin an “actives” break the next day

This is anecdotal, based on my experience. If I use any of my other actives (currently BHA, alpha arbutin, Vitamin C) the day after using Retin-A, my skin is overexfoliated.

I need to simply cleanse and moisturize my skin with creams and oils for both AM and PM routines the day after.

With these tips, I have not experienced dry, flaky, irritated skin while using Retin-A. Hopefully these will help you too!

Have you tried using Retin-A? How did you use it? 

Skin Care TipsClare Oparo