• Blog >
  • How to Use Retin-A the Right Way
RSS Feed

How to Use Retin-A the Right Way



Have you tried using retin-A (tretinoin)? Retin-A (tretinoin) can give your skin significant benefits. But many people get side effects when using retin-A (tretinoin). Keep reading to learn how to use it.

What is retin-A (tretinoin)?

Retin-A (tretinoin) is a vitamin A derivative that’s found in a part of your eye called the retina. This is how retin-A (tretinoin) gets its name. Retin-A (tretinoin) is a prescription medication that can be used to treat acne or aging in the skin. Retin-A (tretinoin) has other derivatives such as retinol, which is a weaker form and can be found over-the-counter. Accutane (isotretinoin) is the oral form of retin-A (tretinoin) which is even stronger and has more side effects. Retin-A (tretinoin) works in the skin by stimulating your skin cells to turn over faster. Over time your skin changes. One change is that your skin cell turnover rate slows down. In youth, it takes about a month for your skin cells to go from the base of your skin to the surface. As you age, this rate slows down and causes a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface. This can clog pores and cause acne breakouts. It also leads to rough and irregular texture on your skin which you can feel when you touch your skin. You’ll also see loose skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. When you start using retin-A (tretinoin), you’ll see an improvement in all of these changes and more.

What are the side effects of retin-A (tretinoin)?

Retin-A (tretinoin) can have a number of side effects, especially when you first start using it. These include dryness, redness, irritation, and sensitivity. These are all normal reactions by your skin. Everyone is different and some people will experience more side effects than others. These side effects make retin-A (tretinoin) one of the hardest skin care products for people to use consistently. But there are a number of things you can do to make it easier on your skin so you can continue using retin-A (tretinoin) and enjoying the benefits. It’s important to be sure to use sunscreen every day since retin-A (tretinoin) can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Here are some tips on what you can do when using retin-A (tretinoin) to minimize side effects:

Start with a low dose

Retin-A (tretinoin) comes in multiple doses. Common concentrations include 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1%. Starting with the lowest dose and gradually increasing it will reduce your side effects. Although you’ll likely notice significant side effects if you start with the higher strength, your skin may adjust easily to the lower strengths. So try starting with the low strength for a month, or even a few months. This will allow your skin to adjust. Once your skin has adjusted, then move up.

Use a cream instead of a gel.

Retin-A (tretinoin) and other topical medications can be in different forms. The most common are creams and gels. In general, gels are stronger than creams. This means a 0.05% gel is stronger than a 0.05% cream. So if you’ve tried a get and you’re having irritation, try switching to a cream.

Start with retinol

Retinol is a derivative of retin-A (tretinoin) which is gentler on your skin. Starting with retinol can be a good way to transition to using retin-A (tretinoin). Use retinol for a few months. Once your skin has adjusted, then you can move to retin-A (tretinoin).

Start with adapalene

Adapalene, also called Differin, is a milder form of retin-A (tretinoin), but stronger than retinol. You can try adapalene before moving onto retin-A (tretinoin). You can also use adapalene as a transition between retinol and retin-A (tretinoin).

Use less of it

In general, when using retin-A (tretinoin), you want to apply a pea-size amount to your face. However, if you experience side effects, you can try using a smaller amount. For example, try using half as much instead. This will give your skin less irritation. Once your skin starts to adjust, you can slowly increase the amount by going to three-quarters the size of a pea. This may take a few weeks, so be patient. It can take several months for your skin to completely adjust to the full amount.

Use it less often

Although it’s recommended to use retin-A (tretinoin) every night, this may be too much for your skin at first. Instead, you can try using it every other night, every third night, or even once a week. Do this for a few weeks until your skin adjusts, then start using it more frequently. For example, you can start by using retin-A (tretinoin) twice a week for the first month. Then increase it to three times a week for the next month. Continue this until you’re able to use it every night.

Drink plenty of water

Retin-A (tretinoin) will dry your skin. So it’s important to drink enough water to keep your body hydrated so that it can supply your skin with enough water for its barrier function.

Use hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a sugar that’s naturally found in the skin. Many skin care products contain hyaluronic acid. When you apply hyaluronic acid to your skin, it draws water into your skin from the blood supply. This will keep your skin hydrated so you don’t dry out as much. Apply hyaluronic acid after applying retin-A (tretinoin) and before applying a moisturizer.

Use a good moisturizer

Since retin-A (tretinoin) dries your skin, it’s important to use a good moisturizer. For more mature skin, you can use a heavy moisturizer or even an ointment. If you’re using retin-A (tretinoin) for acne, you likely have oily skin so you’ll want to use a lighter moisturizer. Some people even mix the retin-A (tretinoin) with moisturizer when applying it to their skin. In general, most people can tolerate a heavier moisturizer at night and a lighter moisturizer in the morning.

Although retin-A (tretinoin) can cause a lot of side effects, there are a lot of things you can do so that your skin can tolerate it and so that you can enjoy the results.

Join our mailing list

Dr. Alex has performed over 10,000 cosmetic treatments with many satisfied patients. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a free consultation with Dr. Alex in our Encino, CA office.

Contact us Today

Our Location

Hours of Operation

Office

Monday:

10:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

10:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

10:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

10:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

10:00 am-4:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed