Retin A – Five Top Questions

Readers of  The No-Nonsense Beauty Blog have sent in some really interesting questions about Retin A and you may  have missed the answers in the comments.  These questions showed that  there are  so  many details about Retin A that can spell the difference between getting the results you want and  just giving  up using it. 

1.  Can I use Retin A on my neck?

Absolutely!  It will take longer to  see improvement and it won’t be as dramatic as on the face, but it certainly will help.  Use a little pea size dab, about the size you use on  your face.

2. Can I use both hyaluronic acid and Retin A?

Again, yes.  There are actually two forms of hyaluronic acid– one that is injected into lines  to smooth out the face and the other is added to creams as a super moisturizer.  Both can be used with Retin A.  In face,  hyaluronic acid is one of my go-to moisturizer ingredients. Its highly effective in attracting and holding moisture and never irritating.

3. Can Retin A stop working?

It can seem like that.  The skin actually needs to get used to Retin A in order to be able to use it every night.  Over time you won’t see the more dramatic differences you did in the first few months of use, but trust me, under the skin good things are happening. Retin A  will still be  stimulating collagen, thickening the skin layers, and encouraging circulation.  If you stop using it, you will  see that you will   start  losing the benefits.

4. What type of moisturizer should I use with Retin A?

Short answer, the richest one your skin can tolorate.  In the first six months on Retin A  avoid a moisturizer with AHA’s like glycolic acid, peppermint and  vitamin C, all of which can be too irritating on skin  just starting to use Retin A.  As time progresses these ingredients can   actually work with Retin A to deliver more results.

5.  Which should I apply first– moisturizer or Retin A?

After washing your face, wait at least 10 minutes, then apply your Retin A. Then wait another 10 minutes for  it to absorb, then spread on   your moisturizer.  You want to  give the Retin A full access to your skin  and a layer of moisturizer can interfere with absorption.   

Got more questions abou about Retin A?  Please  email me and I’ll find the answers.  Success or failure with Retin A seems to depend on mastering details that doctors often don’t mention.

369 thoughts on “Retin A – Five Top Questions

  1. Can Retin A be fully integrated with night time routine eg Retin A first then serum then moisturiser? I vary the things I use and at the moment I’m trying Decleor Ylang Ylang and Neroli balms; they feel like vaseline but really sink in to moisturise and I read can be really good for acne. Just worried the texture may rub away the Retin A, or will it have absorbed enough if I wait before applying?

    • Oh, layering is one of my favorite topics. THe important things to remember here is that the skin is designed to protect essential organs and keep stuff out.. Its actually very difficult to pass thru the layers of the skin– and that’s the way its supposed to work. If you pile on too many products, nothing will be able to get where it needs to go. I don’t use more than two treatment products at the same time and I wait at least 30 minutes between applications. You can apply Retin A and top it with moisturizing creams. I would be concerned about putting on Retin A, a serum and then a moisturizer. Too much. If you like the benefits of the serum, I would use Retin A on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. and the serum directly on the skin on on Tuesday, Thursday and Sat. Top both serum and Retin A with your balm of choice–one at a time. And I love the fragrance of Ylang Ylang. During the day, just make sure that your moisturizer has at least a30SPF. I’d love to hear how this works for you.

    • All by itself Retin A cannot be used around the eyes. However a combo of Retin A, a low dose steroid and hydroquinone to lighten dark circles has been sucessfully used under the eyes. However even this combo cannot be used on the lids or under te brow bone– the fear being it could drift into the eye itelf. This combo Retin A has been formulated into a product called Triluma. However for some reason, Triluma was temporarily discontinued and no word on when it will be available again. I now use a 1% Retinol from Skinceuticals around my eyes– which is equal to a .025% Retin A. I use it below my eyes and found it works very well.

        • If you needed a prescription to buy it from a reputable local pharmacy, I would say its working and you might be able to tolorate a higher doseage. However if you bought it without a prescription and/or from an online pharmacy it might be counterfit Retin A. I bought some from an online pharmacy and I could tell the difference between product purhased in the US and a generic Retin A from an online pharmacy. I don’t know what was in it, but I doubt it was Retin A. There was absolutely no effect — no redness no peeling and no benefits.

        • I have been using Retin a 0.025 for about 5 months now…I am not experiencing any irritation or peeling…only some dryness…I use it 3 times a week…I alternate with Vitamin C and I am doing needling too. I alternate everything. I am mostly concerned about some lines on my forehead. I can say they have dimished a lot…but I can see some dark spots…I am not sure where they are coming from…they are forming into patches and I am worried. I use 50+ sunscreen from la roche posay and I like it so much…it is a bit tinted. I am not out in the sun much…sometimes when I go to the shop or walk around briefly…am I still exposed to sun that way and shall I stop the RetinA altogether?? Do you think I have become sensitive to the sun? Do I have to war a haat at all times when using retin A even tho I am using 50+ sunscreen? Please help…

        • I have been using Retin A for 5 months now. I use 0.025, three times a week..
          I alternate with Vitamin C and dermastamping / dermarolling. I also use Nuface sometimes in the morning..

          I can see that I have some dark patches on my forehead. Could it be the Retin A, even when I am using 50+ sunscreen? I don’t stay out in the sun much…but then I do go to the shop to get stuff, maybe a short 10 minute walk. Am I getting sensitive towards the sun and do I have to wear a hat even with 50+ sunscreen to walk 10 minutes?? Thank you appreciate your answers…

  2. can i mix retin a with my moisturizer?will it work? i use a pea size amount of retin a and a pea size of moisturizer and mix them togheter (on my hand) and then i aply them on my face… but i don’t know if it has the same effect or not… can you please help me? and i have one more question for you if you don’t mind… why do we have to wait 10 min after washing our face before aplying retin a ? thanks alot ,magda( excuse my english i hope you can understand me… i am from romania …)

    • Hi Magda.
      THese are two very good questions:

      1. You should put on the Retin A first, wait a few minutes for the skin to absorb it and then apply the moisturizer on top. If you mix the two together, you can make it harder for the Retin A to work on the skin. And remember, only use Retin A at night since it makes your skin extra sensitive to the sun.

      2. You need to wait at least 10 minutes after washing the skin because you’re just taken off the top layer of oil and dead skin cells. The skin is now more vulnerable to irritation from Retin A.

      And you write English beautifully. Hugs, Deb

  3. I recently read an article in Allure magazine and one of the subjects of it was Retin A. A famous dermatologist,David E Bank MD,stated that it is better to apply Retin A immediately after washing as the warmth in the skin helps Retin A penetrate even better.It makes sense,but personally,I would only do this if you have become completely acclimated to it.

  4. I understand there are certain ingredients in some mositurizers that decease the effectiveness of Retin A. Do you know what they are?

    • I am not aware of ingrdients that decrease effectivness of Retin A but there are a number of ingrdeints that don’t work well with it. These include alcohol, exfoliating grains, vitamin C and glycolic acid which all can be irritating– and Retin A can be very irritating all by itself. I will look into ingrdients which lessen Retin A’s value. THis is a great question and thanks so much for briging it up.

  5. Does Retin-A still work if after washing my face I don’t wait 10 minutes to apply? I am not worried about irritation, I am just wondering if the good effects of Retin-A are lessened.

    • Retin A will still work well if you use it right after washing your face. Its the irritation that’s the problem. The skin gets red and becomes dry and flaky. After time, the skin has become use to Retin A, the irritation potential lessens.

  6. I have been using it for months now and my skin doesn’t get irritated, I guess my skin has tolerance to Retin-A,
    I have another question, if I use 0.5 Retin-A instead of 1% Retin-A, will the 1% do more no matter what, or can I achieve the same results with 0.5 % even if it takes longer?
    Thanks you answering my question 🙂

  7. If your skin doesn’t react to Retin A,even if you applying it after washing, you could try to stepping up to stronger skin care. You can use scrubbing grains a few times a week or a cleansing brush like Clarisonic to get more activity into your skin care. Alternatively you can step up to a stronger Retin A for better results.

  8. Actually I don’t like 1%, I don’t get irritation, itchiness or redness but my skin flakes very bad, plus I find it extremely sticky, it is this weird thick yellow gel, I almost feel like I am putting glue on my face or honey, and its like so shiney greasy I hate it, it smells like alcohol too so I wondering if that’s bad, but I do not have this problem with 0.5 for whatever reason it is not sticky or greasy or like glue and it dries with a “matte finish” so I would like to stick to 0.5 BUT ONLY if I can achieve good results, so I was just wondering ifd it is possible to get decent results from a lower strengh.

  9. Wow that sounds awful! I actually had a similar experience with a 1% unbranded Retin A that I got from Canada. WHat kind do you have? And regarding irritation, flaking of the skin is under the ” irritation” umbrella so your skin is certainly reacting to the 1%. Maybe another brand?

  10. Johnson & Johnson, but Im not sure why the 0.5 is a white gel that absorbs fast while the 1% a yellow sticky gel, I started with 0.25 and then went up but I didn’t expect the gel of the 1% to be so different.

  11. Been using retin a .025 (gel form) for months now. No irritation at all, a little flaking sometimes but not recently (flaking is usually a sign of using to much i know)

    So 2 things

    Can use us AHA at the same time as retin a? which goes first?how long to wait

    Should i be using a moisturizer while using retin a? My am vitamin c serum is really moisturizing so i dont bother. But i know come summer i need a sunscreen right? What type is best for retin a use?

    • Such good questions: 1) If your skin is tolorating Retin A well, you can use AhA’s in the form of a cleanser or nighttime moisturizer. Before going to sleep, put on Retin A, wait about 5 minutes for it to absorb a bit, then top it with Retin A. 2) Except for oily/acne prone skin, a moisturizer is always helpful when using Retin A. If you seem to be tolorating well, you can use the vitamin C moisturizer on top of Retin A. BUT you should wear a sunscreen year round! This is especially important since both Retin A and AHA’s increase your sensitivity to sundamage. I would look for a moisturizer with a 30SPF. I like Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin and Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer. Let me know what you decide to do.

  12. I’m currently using Atralin .05% and love it. My questin is if I use a good moisturizer do I still need to avoid the sun as much as possible? What if I go to the beach, can I get a tan?

    • Without a sunscreen, a moisturizer simply helps the skin to hydrate. Remember up to age 60 about 80% of all the changes that we see as aging, are actually signs of sundamage. In addition using Retin A products make your skin MORE sensitive to sundamage. Real tanning is very harmful to the skin– and if you want a nice healthy glow, you can pay a quick visit to a spray tan booth. I think the results are natural, beautiful and best of all don’t damge the skin like a day at the beach. Sorry to be such a buzz kill about the sun.

  13. Hello, do you think it is fine to use Retin-A during the summer? or should I completely avoid it? I live in Florida and the sun is terrible during summer months, I do not care about getting a tan (I have red hair and very fair skin) so I don’t even bother and I use sunscreen with spf of 70 (neutrogena sheer liquid), I do not want any sun damage but I heard sun exposure during Retin-A would defeat the anti aging purpose, so is it still okay to use as long as I am careful? should I lower the dose to 0.25? is Glycolic acid just as bad for the summer?

  14. You have raised several great points. Since you already live in an area which is sunny pretty much year round, I don’t think summer would make much of a difference. A low concentration of Retin A, especially in a cream base, would certainly reduce risk of problems. Your 70 SPF is wonderful and its great you use it year round. To lower risk of irritation even further, I would use an extremely gentle cleanser like Cetaphil and avoid other irritants like glycolic acid, AHA’s, exfoliating cleansers and even alcohol based toners. FInally, you can wear sun protective clothing including a wide brimmed hat with an SPF. Its wonderful you are so on top of the risk factors!

  15. Can you give examples of moisturizers and sunscreens that work well with Retin A? Right now I am using Neutrogena Healthy defense with Helioplex sunscreen and it burns when i put on my face in the morning. I use Loreal night time moisturizer and that burns also. I started to use Vit A & D ointment with no burning – it also helps with the peeling and irritation. I just started using Retin A 0.25 for 1 week now

    • Renee, you’ve come to the right place. FInding the right products to use with Retin A is one of my favorite topics. I recommend the CerVe products. THe daytime one has a good sunscreen and the nighttime version is non oily,fragrance-free and packed with moissturizers. In the daytime I cover my moisturizer with a BB cream from Boscia. This has a zinc based sunblock that has been tinted to act as a foundation. I think this type of product is one of the best new ideas to come along in ages.
      Helioplex is an amazing sunblock but can be very irritating, especially if youre using Retin A. VItamin A & D cream at night is a great way to deel with peeling when you are using Retin A. I recommend Cetaphil for cleansing and use a cotten pad rather than a washcloth which can be too rough. FInally make sure you wait an hour between the time you wash your face and you a apply that tiny pea sized dab of Retin A. If you put it one right after cleansing your face, it can result in bunring and peeling. Let me know if this helps!

  16. Hi,
    I’ve been using Renova 0.02% for 2 months now. I have peeling so my doctor suggested CeraVe PM, but is that okay to use if you have breakouts? If not what is a good one to use for acne prone skin?

    • If you are using Renova for ance related problems, then I think CereVe would be too heavy for you. Rather than look for a lighter moisturizer I would first modify the way you are using Renova to reduce peeling. I would use it every other night and make sure that I wait an hour between washing your face and applying Renova. I would also recommend Cetaphil for cleansing the skin since it does not provoke breakouts yet is gentle enough for peeling skin. If you are using it to reduce signs of aging, keep in mind that sometimes Retin A products can seem to trigger breakouts when you first start using it. However you should use an oil free sunscreen to protect your skin since Retin A products increase sensitivity to the sun.

      • Thank you for the advice. I will go back to using Renova every other night and wait the one hour(sometimes its hard to wait that long, but I will try). So no PM moisturizer?

        My breakouts have gotten worse since using it. I have oily T-zone combo skin. I do use Cetaphil at night, but in the morning I use an Oxy Acne Wash,Oxy topical cream and spf 15 OlayProX Clear Oil Free Moisturizer and Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum and Olay ProX Eye Restoration Complex. Is this okay or too much?


        • Ah, I think I see another source of your problems. Oxy Acne Wash is much too strong to use with Renova or any Retin A. Use Cetaphil as a cleanser both morning and night. I would also leave off the eye cream products until the acne is under control. You didn’t mention your age, but if you are over 30, you might have hormonal acne. The best way to treat this is with a hormone regimen. I had this type of acne and it was the only thing that worked. If you have basically oily skin you don’t need a moisturizer, even an oil-free one. They can have other ingredients that can provoke acne. You do need a sunscreen and I would recommend Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF30. Event though I am over 50, many products can still trigger breakouts for me, but this Aveeno product is mild and effective. If you would be interested in sending in photos I can get one of my experts to give you additional feedback. Hugs, Deb

  17. I have been using retin a 0.05 % since Jan 2012, approx 4.5 mos and been having serious breakouts on my chin in large clusters for two months straight, I use it every night as directed, my concern is if my chin will ever heal or is this just the purging phase. I hope I’m not reacting negatively to the lotion, and this is just the normal process. I am 38 years old and have always suffered from hormonal acne. Help! When will this work ?

    • I am a huge fan of Retin A, but when it comes to hormonal acne, you’re probably going to need to go in another direction. Hormonal acne responds beautifully to hormones, specifically combination packs of estrogen and progesterene. I had this type of acne and it was the only thing that worked. Slowly over six weeks ( and there was no purge period) my skin cleared up and stayed clear. Ask your dermatologist who perscribed the Retin A to switch to hormonal therapy. And let me know how things are going. I’ve been there and I know what it feels like to have teenage acne when I was no longer a teenager.

      • I use spirolactone for hormonal acne. I’m 30 and female and have had mild acne since teens. Acbe took a turn and now it’s different .. Now it’s hormonal inflamed. Mild but still a problem if you ask me.

        Spirolactone is a pill twice a day. Hope it
        helps you

  18. You cannot believe how much relief I feel that I have found your blog. I’m 16 and I just visited my dermatologist who perscribed me Retin A Micro yesterday. When I went to the pharmacy to pick it up the pharmacist told me how to use RAM and also told me to use it everyday before bed and after cleansing face but I didn’t have the chance to ask her any questions about a skin care rountine to work with RAM. I’ve spent the day just researching and I’m confused. Although the pharamacist told me to use RAM everyday but if my skin gets irritated to use every other day but some say that I should start off using it 3 to 4 times a week and work my way up. What should I do? Also I don’t know what products to use. I want to buy a scrub when my face starts to peel to scrub off the dead skin, and also should I use a toner? Do I use a moisturizer after or before applying RAM? I’m afraid it will interfere with the medication. I’m using Cetaphil’s Cleanser and I’m thinking about buying Cerave’s PM Lotion. Which is better though Cetaphil’s Lotion or Cerave’s? Help >.< Oh and the scrub I want to buy is Burts Bee Citrus Facial Scrub and toner by Burts Bees. I feel since it's natural ingredients it won't irritate my skin since it will be irritated with the RAM. Or which do you recommend?

    • Hi Lisette,
      I’s so glad you found me too. Using Retin A sucessfully is one of my favorite topics. I would use Cetaphil to cleanse your face both in the morning and before going to bed. Start off using Retin A every other night and work up to an every night routinue. If you have sensitive skin use the every other night for at least 2 tweeks before adding new days. Be sure to wait at least 30 minutes between the time you wash your face and apply Retin A. I would not use any moisturizere at night– it will only clog your pores. But in the morning you should use an oil free 30SPF sunscreen to protect your skin since Retin A makes your skin more vulnerable to sun damage. You need to avoid all scrubs and toners when on a Retin A regime. These irritants will actually provoke even more acne. Give Retin A 3 months to deliver its great results. I also have a guide to Retin A that you can get for free by liking my Facebook Page. Lets me know how you are doing!

  19. FYI the toner I want to use is the Burts Bees Garden Tomato Toner and these are the ingredients water, alcohol denat., glycerin, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, carum petroselinum (parsley) extract, solanum lycopersicum (tomato) fruit extract, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) extract, acer saccharum (sugar maple) extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil, citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil, fragrance

  20. Hi, If I use moisturizer on top of retin A does it mean that retin A will work less efective then on its own?? Thank you

    • It depends how your skin is reacting to Retin A. If you have been using it for at least six months and don’t have a problem with dryness or irritation than a mild facial for your skin type should be OK. I would stop using Retin A for two days before the facial and for two days after. THe same is true for extractions and they should be done by a careful experienced person.

    • Yes, it does a beautiful job on the hands but the neck and chest take longer, much longer to show results– about a year. Just use it sparingly on all body parts and ocver them up with a sunscreen. I carry a little tube of sunbock in my bag since i often forget to put it on my hands.

  21. By the way is this right? I’m looking up the A&D cream and it comes up at diaper rash ointment? Is that okay?

  22. i have dark brown patches on my cheeks and forehead, i was prescribed retin a 0.025% Is retin a good for this, everyone tells me , it is just used for acne?
    and can i still use my avon anew creams for aging the same time as retin a

    • Hi Paula,
      Retin A is great for dark patches. It has to be used regularly for at least six months and you need to wear at least a 30SPF sunscreen each and every day. Retin A is a trade name for retinoids ( like Kleenex for tissues) and is also an excellent treatment for acne. No only can you use Anew at night its actually helpful to avoid excessive dryness that can develop with retinoids. When using retinoids for dark patches, doctors usually tell their patients to apply a pea size blob to the entire face, not just the darkened areas. Let me know how it works out. If they do not seem to be responding we can talk about other techniques.

    • We all need a moisturizer when using retinoids. I would suggest one that contains ceramides or hyaluronic acid which are natural moisturizing factors. Glycerin can actually be drying and vitamin E may be irritating– a potential since retinoids often cause inflammation and redness.

  23. I’m currently using a toner that consists of apple cider vinegar, witchazel and tea tree oil, which helps my acne, ph and helps to remove makeup. Can I still use this while using Retin-A or do I have to stop using it entirely? And If I have to stop using it, what should I use to remove the excess makeup after I wash my face at night? Because when I don’t get this residual off, I tend to break out more. I was still planning on using the toner in the mornings and on nights that I’m not using the Retin-A, but this wouldn’t solve the makeup issue on the nights that I am using the Retin-A. I am 28, have oily acne prone skin, and have lots of hyperpigmentation from old acne (which is why I normally where foundation when I go out, mineral makeup). Thanks.

    • You can try using the toner with the retinoid ( Retin -A) but I think you should also use a mild cleanser ( like Cetaphil) on a cotten ball to remove make-up. Wait for about 30 minutes after washing the face then apply Retin A. In the mrning wash again with Cetaphil, use toner and then apply an oil-free sunscreen under your make-up. THe bad news is that Retin A makes your skin much more vulnerable to sun damage. THe good news? Retin A will deal with both the acne AND hyperpigmentation. I’d love to hear how things work out.

      • Thanks for replying. I’m currently using the Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar, which doesn’t seem to get the makeup off well, but seems to help prevent acne. I sometimes wash with the soap twice to try to get the makeup off, but there’s still residual. Are the other Cetaphil cleansers better with the removal of makeup? It would be more convenient to not have to use the bar of soap. And I’m wondering if the anti-bacterial bar may be a little too strong with the Retin-A. I’ve been using a sunscreen daily for a couple years now. Currently I’m using the Badger spf 30 unscented sunscreen, but it’s kind of thick and makes my skin more oily throughout the day. I use jojoba oil as a moisturizer at night which works well for me.

  24. Just wondering if you can’t use Retin A around the eyes what does one use for the lines around the eyes…..

  25. I have been using retin-a for 4 days now! I am also using benzaclin in the morning. My doctor did not tell me to start out with a couple of nights a week. I stopped using it 2 night ago because my face burns REALLY bad when I wash it with the cetaphil. I also bought cetaphil lotion for the face with a sunscreen and it burns like crazy. I have applied cold compresses where it burns because my face is exteremly swollen. It feels burnt. Any suggestions?

    • Oh, wow that sounds painful. Here are a few suggestions:
      1. Stop using Retin! Discuss with your doctor if you should never use it again or if you can try to restart the treatment on a limited basis. If he gives you a green light, every cut back to using it every third night. You need to build up tolorance. If you can tolorate every third night, after two weeks try an every other night schedule.
      2. Wait at least 60 minutes from the time you wash and try your face and when you apply Retin A.
      3. In the morning, wash with Cetaphil extra gentle cleanser. Wait about 10 minutes before applying benzaclin, then apply an oil-free sunscreen that uses titamium or zinc oxide. ( eg Neutrogena for Sensitive Skin works well for me)

      You didn’t say what percentage you are using. I would start with a very low concentration of .025%. Please let me know how things are going.

  26. I just found this info Blog so really know nothing about it …wondering who you are and where you get your info.? and is there a charge for the
    A/Q blog.?and the date of the next Q-A segment? and also how I receive it? thank you…have a good day…..

  27. Hi Leigh,
    THere is no charge for anything on No-Nonsense Beauty Blog. I’l be answering your question on Friday, June 8. If you subscribe, you will get an automatic notice of every new post. If you come back on Friday, it will be the post of the day. You can read a bit about me in the tab at the top of the blog.

      • Hi Deb I have been using Retna-A for 5 days now and I have noticed a small bit of peeling, nothing serious, and I am using Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer 30 SPF, what do you suggest that I use at night ? thanks so much….

    • I’m a big Neutrogena fan. THe bar works well if you don’t wear make-up. If your wear foundation and blusher and/or bronzer, a liquid form Neutrogena will do an even better job. FYI Neutrogena was the first to develop a liquid cleanser just to use with Retin A..

  28. ok great I’d get the liquid…and I did find the cere ve pm at wal-mart in Bangor….cannot find it in eastern canada any place…..dahhhhhhhhhh. thanks Deb…have a great day….

    • That’s great Leigh! You probably can also online. Also if you do well with Skinceuticals .05%, you can move up to 1%. At that concentration you are equal to about.025% true Retin A. This is the same concentration as Renova.

  29. I contacted Cereve and they gave me a phone number for their Canadian site so when I get in touch with them I’ll let you know where it cn be purchased in Canada in case someone else would like to know……have a good one….

  30. which product is this cleanser called that is for using with Retin_A?, FYI Neutrogena, no one seems to know anything about it….thanks….

  31. Hi! thank you for all the answers that you post. I am looking for your advise- I have been using Retin- A 0,5 for 2 months every other night. I had flaking only. I am planning to use Retin 6 days a week as I would like to add AHA to my regime. Is it ok to use AHA once a week at pm? I am 32 . Thank you .

  32. Hiya,

    Thank you for your reply.

    Can I ask another question, I am using Retin A 0.025% because I have dark brown patches on my cheeks and forehead, should I put the cream all over my face or just on my patches? and also since I have been using Retin A for 2 weeks, I haven’t seen any improvement at all, the only difference I see, is that my skin is very shiny on the places I have used it, why is this?Thank you


  33. Hi Deb I went looking for FYI Neutrogena moisture and they told me that FYI just means (for your Info:) is thst right ? I thought it was a special moisture……not to up on these things

    • You’ve lost me. I’m not sure what FYI Neutrogena is. I was referring to a liquid Neutrogena face wash that was designed for people using Retin A. Since Johnson and Johnson makes Retin A this makes sense. I was able to buy it last year so I will try to find its current status.

  34. I have Louis Widmer AHA 10% cream with the below ingrideinets. I am just confused about the regime i should stick to. If it will be ok to use it once a week at pm and the rest of pms to use tretinoin 0,5 . I have acne skin but i cannot say it is too much oily. I am also afraid to make it too dry. Thank you Plus our climate is hot here.
    Loiuse Widmer AHA 10 %
    Composition / Content:
    Aqua, Steareth Steareth-5, Glycolic Acid, Steareth-21, Panthenol, Simmondsia Chinensis, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dibutyl Adipate, Cetyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Malic Acid, Dimethicone, (Parfum) , Stearyl Alcohol, Salicyclic Acid, Sodium hydroxide, PEG-8 Distearate, Steareth-2

    Read more about Louis Widmer Aha 10% 50 crem – Zwitserse Apotheek – Uw Belgische Internet Apotheek by

    • If you don’t have redness and peeling you can add an AHA product once a week. However, I usually recommend staying away from creams if acne is a problem, but it seems to me that this formulation is fairly low in oil, perhaps even oil free. If you start getting irritation, cut back on the AHA cream. Let me know if this helps.

  35. I was looking for an organic face cream and when my best friend recommended the Vitamin C Moisturizer from the Made from Earth brand I bought it online. I figured it would make me break out, because most face lotions do. I decided to give it a chance anyway. The cream is a little heavier than most, and my skin is oily, so this was also a red flag for me.

    But I was wrong! The cream absorbs quickly and is moisturizing, yet does not make me break out. In fact, I believe that it has helped clear my skin. This is an excellent Vitamin C cream, and not something to pass up.

  36. Hi I found the CerVe PM today and I’m trying it for the first time tonight….my face is getting red and dry..(using Retin-Amicro every night)..I’m using the Aveeno daily Ultra Claming moisture with 30 fps in the day do u think these are all ok.? thanks Deb….reguards ..Leigh

    • THis is what I use and they worked well for me. You might want to think about cutting back Retin A Micro to every other day to avoid increased redness and flaking. Your skin will get used to it and within a month you should be able to use it every night.

  37. Hi just didn’t use it for one night and it all cleared up the next day….I have a little peeling on my chin but nothing serious….and I do use it every night …it is suppose to peel a little at first right? I have been on it 14 day…I do have some of those little bumps under my skin high on my cheek bones and hoping they will go away…..I ride a motorcycle so I guess I should wear a rag over my face from the sun ? Thanks so much for your help really appriciated it…have a great day….

  38. Hi…I just found your blog. It’s wonderful. I have been using retin-a for several years and love it. Often at night I will apply an 8% AHA cream, wait a half hour, and then apply retin-a. I really like the results. Can AHA deactivate the retin-a? I have heard that it does and that it doesn’t. What is your opinion…would it be better to apply retin-a first? Or not use them together? Thanks so much.

    • THank you so much your email. Adding a strong AHA cream to Retin A will certainly crank up the effect, especially if you have been using it for so many years. I’m not sure about using them together, but I will poll my experts and gget an answer for you.

      • Thank you! I just hate to think my results are good when in fact it’s because the Retin-A has been deactivated…so that’s why I have less dryness, etc. on the nights that I do this! I just don’t like using AHA in the morning under makeup and moisturizer. So I’m wondering if my good results are just basically from the AHA?

    • Plain Retin A or any type of plain Retinoid product including Refissa, and Renova cannot be used under the eye. However a combination product of Retin A, hydrocortisone and hydroquinone can be used succcessfully under the eye to reduce dark circles and fine lines in the eye area. THere used to be a commerical version called Tri-luma, but that seems to have gone off the market. You will need to ask you physician for a prescription and take it to a pharmacy that will compound it especially for you. It will cost less than $200, about 30% less than Tri-luma.

  39. i’ve been using Retin-A micro 0.04% for more then two weeks every night, and my skin doesn’t seem to be showng much improvement. I was curious if using the gentle cleanser by Obagi nu-derm might be the problem. the only side effects that ive had is my skin is beginning to flake on my jaw line and some peeling on my cheeks, but other then that i haven’t had any redness. i’ve been using napolen perdis in the morning for my moisturizer which has vitamin e and chamomile extract.. and i dont know if thats bad to use with the retin-a as well. im also having a horrible problem with my skin becoming extremly oily in my t-zone area, so what could i do to help prevent that… thank you!

    • Hi Deb. I need some advices from you.I am having adult acne for the past 3 years.Acne at most areas is under control now with daily use of Skinceuticals Blemish and anti-aging serum except my jawline.I keep getting new whiteheads which eventually turns into monster acne. My dermatologist recommended Tretinion 0.025% for both my acne and pigmentation.I read about the initial purging, i am hestiate to start.Will it be all right if i alternate night using Skinceuticals Blemish and anti-aging with Tretinion 0.025%. I am using Skinceuticals B5 gel as my moisturiser and cetalip g

  40. Can I use tretinoin use first and Eucerin Q10 anti wrinkles cream on the top for moisture. My skin is so dry. I am using tretinoin for fine lines but so far did not see any result

    • Yes, tretinoin and Eucerin Q10 is a good combo. Just make sure that you allow the Tretinoin to saok in for 15 minutes before you top it with moisturizer. If your skin remains dry, switch to Aquaphor ( also by Eucerin) at night. It take several months to see lines soften. First changes include a fresher, pinker skin color and tone.

  41. Hi Deb, I have read your answers with great interest. thank you.
    I’d been using StivaA o.1% form couple of years but always had flaky face than I decided to move to 0.05%. Was it the right decision? I am in my 40, not many wrinlke, but still have pimples. Or shoul I have continued with the higher concentration but add heavier moisturiser?

    • THere are several reasons that you may be having flaking after several years. You might be using too much at one time and or you are not waiting enough time between washing your face and applying Stieva A. If you are using it for acne problems, it just might not be the right product for you. A heavier moisturizer would probably increase breakouts. Rather than go down in concentration, I would try using glycolic acid peels to remove the flaky skin and clean out the pores. GLycolic acid acts like a milder retinoid, but with less irritation.

  42. I just started using Renova 0.05. I will be going to Hawaii in Feb. 2013. I will of course be covering in Sunblock regularly, but should I stop using Renova while I’m there just to be safe? Is sunblock enough to keep my skin safe using retin-a? Just a little worried about that…as we will be at the beach often during that time. Thanks for this informational website!

    • If yur trip was this week, I would suggest taking a Retin A holiday– but by Feb your skin will be comfortable with Retin A. Use a broadspectrum 50SPF sunscreen and either refresh it every three hours or top it with a mineral powder that offers sunscreen protection. Have a wonderful time!

  43. thanks so much for your answer. I will try that if it is possible. I have another question if you can possible answer that. Right now I am using at night tretinoin and if I feel it is dry I use Vitamin E cream fruit of the earth on the top. It does have a Retinyl palmitate. So is it ok to use two vitamin A product. I use pea size trention with a combination of blender pea size ( obagi product) Now I have pigmentation only on small area and I use blender and clear on that area only. But I dont know what to combine with tretinoin now. If I dont blend with blender my face get sensitive. Can I do pea size tretinoin and pea size moisturizer at the same time ( creams which I mentiond above) . becasue I tried one day tretinoin on its own and on the top tried any other cream ( I think aloe vera mositure cream from gnc) My skin gets sensitive and right after putting tretinoin it gets dry and wrinkles/fine lines appear more. So I washed my face and blend with blender. Please advice on that. I am 35

  44. Hi,

    Feels good to see this blog. I have been using Retin A in the past but gave it up as it was causing more breakouts on my face. I am 27 years old and have mild to moderate acne. I have been using Benzaclin in the evenings. I leave it for 2 hours and then wash my face and apply moisturiser as my skin gets itchy and dry. I am also on Diane35. I was thinking of restarting retin a every third night. Would I again have to go through an initial break out phase or I can avoid it somehow? I already have a lot of red and brown post acne spots, I just don’t want more breakouts to leave more spots on my face.

    I am using neutrogena moisturiser for sensitive skin at night before sleeping and cetaphil to wash my face.

    Please recommend a routine.



    • I love comments like this which give me an opportunity to really to offer options. At 27 acne should be a rare outbreak not a constant problem. At this point it can be due to the way your are caring for your skin or to hormonal issues in your body. Lets start with an answer to your Retin A question. At this pont you will probably get the “pursge” outbreak if yu start using Retin A again. And as much as I clearly love Retin A, its not the only answer for acne, may not not even be the best one.
      Now Lets Tackle Skincare: I love Cetaphil and Benzaclin certainly has the juice to manage acne. However I don’t understand why you are using it only for two hours in the evening. DIrections are for use in the morning and before bedtime, so you may not be allowing this acne fighter to work. If you are concerned with peeling or irritation, don’t be. You need this peeling to take off the top dead layer of skin cells that are clogging pores. I know that photosensitivity can be an issue with Benzaclin, so you only need to top your skin with a sunscreen. ( And I noticed that you didn’t mention any sunscreen). Using a moisturizer at night may also be adding to your acne problems.As a product for dry sensitive skin I like Neutrogena Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, but you don’t need it. A moisturizer only helps dry skin hold onto water. If you have oily/acne troubled skin, your skin already has plenty of water– and you are just irritating the pores. This is a very common problem and studies have shown that up to 50% of acne after age 20 is due to the wrong choice of skin care products.
      An Alternative Skin Care Plan: At night I would suggest using a cleansing tool like Clarisonic or DDF Revolve to clean out the pores. Wait about 30 minutes then apply Benzaclin and leave it on. ( This type of microdermabrasion will also help with post acne marks) In the morning I would use Cetaphil, then apply Benzaclin and then top with an oil free sunscreen like Aveeno Ultra- Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30( a personal favorite). If breakouts continue switch to a mineral sunscreen. ( my newest favorite is Sunforgettable Mineral Powder Sunscreen Brush SPF 50 from Color Science)
      Hormonal Issues: If your skin continues to breakout, I would consider hormone therapy in the form of birth control pills for six months to stabilize oil gland production. I hope this will be of help!

      • Thanks for your detailed reply.

        The reason I have been using Benzaclin and Retin A is that these were suggested by my GP. I would always use Benzaclin at the night and leave it on till morning but recently my skin has been very dry and itchy. Peeling is not a problem but the constant itchiness is very disturbing. I feel the need to moisturise it and that helps a little in controling the itchiness. I am not sure what is the reason for the itchiness but I thought Benzaclin might be making the skin extremely dry and hence making it itchy. What do you think I can do about that?

        In the morning I do use a sunscreen SPF 30 by cetaphil. Although I have not been applying benzacllin underneath it. I will try switching to the moisturisers that you have recommended and start applying benzaclin in the morning as well.

        Thanks again for the information. It’s very informative!

        • OK, that clears things up for me. If the Benzaclin is making your skin itchy and you still have breakouts, its not doing a good job for you. I would be very interested in seeing how you react to just using a tool like CLarisonic or DDF and no moisturizer or Benzaclin, but still use an oil-free sunscreen in the AM. Another option would be to alternate nights with Benzaclin and a Clarisonic. Please let me know how things are going!

  45. yes it is from obagi. (ObAGI nU dERM BLENDER SKIN LIGHTNER AND BLENDING CREAM HYDROQUININE USP 4 % RX ONLY) basically that is for to to even tone if you have dark spots ( hyperpigmentation). Now I have only little hyperpigmentation to small area only, So I am just using there only and rest of the face as I have mentioned above not sure how to use tretinoin now since I dont want to use blender all over.

  46. Hi, I’m so glad ive just come across this page! I am 25 years old and have had oily/acne prone skin since I can remember. I had been on the Dianette Birth Control Pill for a few years which was helping to control the acne but after a while it just stopped working. Lately I have been getting awfully painful under the skin spots that never seem to surface or turn into white heads, so I went to the nurse and asked about Retin-A. The nurse didn’t know very much about it but prescribed me with a Retin-A Tretinion 0.01% gel. I have been using it for the last three nights after washing my face but I was just wondering if there are certain products I should be using to wash my face with/moisturise with that will not affect the gel from working, or may help to speed up the effectiveness? I live in the UK.

    • This is a fairly stong Retin A formulation so you need to start slow and easy. I don’t know brand names in the UK but I usually recommend Cetaphil gentle cleanser when using Retin A. Start by using it every other night and make sure that you wait 30 minutes from the time you wash your face until you put on the Retin A. Retin A acts primarily by calming down overactive oil glands and removing the top layer of dead cells and stale oil that are clogging the pores. If you use a moisturizer, even an oil-free one, you will undo the value of Retin A when you are using it to control acne. ( If you are using it for anti-aging your skin will be much drier and you will need a light moisturizer)

      One of the side effects of Retin A is that acne may worsen before it gets better. If the birth control pills once worked, but now don’t seem to help, the problem may be your skin care routinue. You might want to try microdermabrasion and a mild glycolic peel and/or maybe a differnt type of birth control pills to see if you can get better contol of your breakouts

  47. Ive been using tretenoin 0.1% for about a month now, and I’m suddenly getting quarter sized red, dry patch of skin here and there on my face. What is the reason, and what should I do? Thank you!

    • Yes that can happen with Retin A. If youa re using it for acne, make sure your soap is mild ( eg Cetaphil ) and try using Retin A every other day. Avoid any alochol based products like toners, exfoliating products like scrubbing grains, pads or brushes. Be sure to wear an oil free sunscreen in the AM. If you are using Retin A for its anti-aging super powers, follow the same advice, but add a moisturizer like Cerave PM at night. If the patches persist, drop back to using it every third night for awhile. Over the next weeks you skin will adjust and you will gradually be able to increase use to every night.

  48. Hello, you’re blog is very informative, thank you.

    I have just been prescribed Retin-A Micro for fine lines. I’m in my late 30s. I’ve been putting it on for a couple of weeks now and my skin is taking it relatively well. I put it on at night, and, as per my doctor’s recommendation I have been mixing my moisturizer with the gel and then I spread it on my face, neck and chest. I read your earlier comments to someone to actually apply the Retin BEFORE my moisturizer cream. Should I do this too?

    Also, I am having a really hard time with the smell of the gel. It has a medicinal smell that I find particularly off-putting, which is weird cause I’m not sensitive to smell usually. Any ideas on how to mute the smell? I tend to use non-fragrance moisturizers, so not sure what to do…ideas?

    • Are you using Retin A for acne or for its antiaging properties? I usually do not recommend mixing Retin A with a moisturizer. You are actually diluting it and weakening its power to get the job done. However if you have dry sensitie skin and the dermatologist is concerned that full strength Retin A gel will cause too much irritation then this is a way of reducing chance of inflammation– albeit lowering the Retin activity. Alternatively you can Retin A in a cream base like Refissa which is less irritaing.
      Also you should be using a pea sized tab of Retin a for your face, another for your chest and a third for your neck. I’m not sure how you can be certain that you will be getting the full dose in all the parts that it is applied to when its mixed into a moisturizer.

      I’ve not noticed an particular smell with my Retin A micro. However I have noticed that when a product has gone bad it does have a funcky smell. Perhaps you should check the expiration date?
      FInally you did not mention if you are using a sunscreen during the day. This is essential since Retin A makes the skin photo-sensitive. Let me now how you are doing.

  49. Thanks for your response. Yes, I’ve been prescribed Retin-A Micro for it’s anti-aging properties. I do wear sunscreen everyday, usually 60. The expiration date is October 13, so maybe I’m just super sensitive to smell (Johnson & Johnson) and it seems to go away after about 10 minutes (not funky just really medicinal). Is there another brand that I could look into?

    Thanks for the advice on how much I should apply. Can I apply moisturizer afterwards as it really dries out my skin. I am starting to feel that my skin is more sensitive in the morning, but it also feels so smooth! Any other tips are welcome!

    Thank you, great blog!

  50. I just started using tetinion 0.25 about two weeks ago with antibiotic doxycycline. I was using aczone and benzaclin with no oral medicine. It’s been almost two weeks and my face has broken out even more I read many blogs that it should break out first before getting better. I’m getting pimples that hurt when you touch them. I am also on birth control pills. I use cetaphil fce wash. I just use the Trenton at night the benzaclin feels so harsh if I add it. Is it normal
    For my face to get this bad? Should I just wait 4 months for
    Good results I feel discouraged when I look in the mirror but after reading your blog it seems like it takes time !

    • There is often a “purge” when you first start using tretinoin for acne. Its more than frustating and it sounds like you are getting cysts. I used tretinoin for its anti-aging properties and never experienced this problem but my dermatologists report that the purge lasts at 30 days– and you can expect your face to heal in 90 days. It sounds like you are using most the best anti-acne tools. Birth control pills are my favorite method of contolling hormonal acne and your derm is covering all the bases with an antibiotic and benzoyl peroxide topical, birth control pills and tretinoin. To jump start the healing ask your dermatologist about a glycolic peel and or microdermabrasion. And I have two questions– how old are you and what brand of birth control pills are you using.

      • Thank u so much I will try to be patient with it for at least 90 days. I am using the generic for ortho- tri cyclin. I don’t use the benzaclin much I feel like it drys my face out way to much what do you think? I have been dealing with adult acne for 3 years now maybe even 4 it is on and off for me I am 24 years old. I just want it all to
        Clear up! Also I stopped wearing make up so my face can clear! What foundation would u recommend when I do need to wear make up for one day or couple of days. Would u recommend a
        ClarisOnic or that’s too much for my skin. Also my skin is very sensitive. Thank u I am going to e patient for 90 days!

  51. I am 33 years old and was prescribed tretinoin cream (.5%) about 3 months ago to treat melasma on my face. I didn’t suffer from acne at this time. Within a week of starting the tretinoin my skin began breaking out and has continued breaking out. I’m now getting large cysts (usually a new one every few days) that take a week or more to go away, in addition to a number of whiteheads on my chin, cheeks, nose and mouth area. I just recently went back to my derm and she put me on minocycline antibiotic. I’ve been on the minocycline for 2 weeks now and the acne hasn’t improved at all. Should I wait this out until my next derm appt (in 3 months) in the hopes it will improve?

    thank you!

    • No, don’t wait. Stop using this type of retin A. This purge thing with tretinoin is an awful side effect. My great dermatologist starts his breakout treatment with a microdermabrasion and a glycolic peel and it seems to stop a breakout in its tracks. Continue with minocycline and ask the derm for a topical product with salicylic acid either alone or combined with an antibiotic. This will interrupt the process that was started with tretinoin. Make sure you avoid any moisturizer and use mineral make-up to avoid irritating ingredients.
      To help you with the melasma can you tell me your heritage? Once the acne is under control, we can deal with your original issue.

  52. Hi-thanks for the response! I am caucasion, I developed melasma after taking birth control pills about 4 years ago. I was treating it with mandelic acid. I’ve recently started using hydroquinoine for the melasma (in addition to the tretinoin).

    I’ve been moisterizing at night 30 minutes before applying the tretinoin, so I should stop this for the time being? I have a glycolic lotion (glytone) that I recently bought, but haven’t started using yet. Should I use this in the morning or evening?

    My dermatologist is booked for several months unfortunately, so I’ll have to figure things out on my own until I can get back in! When I do go in, would you recommend that I try the Retin-A Micro? (It’s expensive and that’s why I got the generic tretinoin cream). But if it’s better for my skin, I’ll spend the money!

    What are you thoughts on incorporating benzoyl peroxide in my routine, would that help?

    • Switching to Retin A would not help because it can still trigger breakouts in the early stages. You can look for gels with salicylic acid to apply at night. Rather thana glycolic acid lotion, I would rather see you apply a glycolic acid toner or wipe that won’t add any additional ingredients that can provoke more breakouts. I would focus on controlling the breakout right now since these can also produce discolorations. When the acne is under control I would look into IPL which is type of low level laser that literally erases dark spots and patches.

  53. I am a 22 year old woman who has been using Retin A micro .04% for about 11 weeks. I haven’t noticed an improvement in my acne, only my skin texture has improved slightly. My skin is very smooth (almost too smooth, like glass) and red in hue. I get inflammatory pimples around my mouth, chin and a few on my cheeks. I don’t think it’s hormonal because i’ve been on the same birth control pill for almost 4 years and i went on it to control my acne (it does). I haven’t had a big problem with my acne until my derm prescribed me retin a mico in May for these tiny comedones around my mouth. My skin erupted like crazy from the retin a and hasn’t calmed down since. My questions are:

    1. Will Retin A work for everyone if just given enough time? For some people i realize this may take up to 6 months. So is it pretty much guaranteed to clear things up i stick it out?
    2. Will the shininess and redness of my skin go away and look more natural over time with continued use?

    This is my skin care regimen:
    -Wash with gentle non-irritating foaming cleanser OR i use a glycolic acid cleaner a few times a week
    -Apply c booth glycolic acid skin resurfacing solution

    -Wash with cleanser
    -wait 20 mins before appling two pumps of retin A micro .04% all over face
    -Sit in front of my LED Red/Blue light therapy box for 10-15 mins
    -Apply Cera Ve LOTION

    Any advice or hope is appreciated!

    • Oh wow, I’m so glad you wrote me . I really love it when I can offer some solid advice.
      Since you are 22 I am guessing that you were prescribed Retin A for acne– and that now you have the purge problem. THe shiny redness is a sign of real inflammation and you are using it a way that increases irritation. To start, you need to avoid all glycolic products for the first six months on Retin A. You also need to avoid exfoliating scrubs, toners with alcohol and even wash cloths can be too irrtating. I’m a huge fan of glycolic acid for skin care and actually wrote a book about them called Fruit Acids for Fabulous Skin ( St Martins Press). I had to stop using some real favorites when I began Retin A.
      In the morning I would wash your face with Cetaphil gentle clenaser and top with oil free sunscreen. In the evening I would wash with Cetaphil, wait 30 minutes and use only ONE pump of Retin and apply to affected areas. Please put away your LED lights as long as you are using Retin A. It actually says this in most product guides for LED lights. Its a big no-no! As long as your skin has breakouts, stay far away from any moisturizer.
      Since your birth control pills had been controlling your acne, I would not have recommended Retin A in the first place. Small white heads and black heads around the mouth can be well controlled with microdermabrasion and a glycolic peel– but I would not do that now until you have been off Retin A for a week.
      I also wonder if you are experriencing a mixture of rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. This can mimic acne, but acne treatments can often make it alot worse.

      I wouuld stop using Retin for a month to see if the redness and breakouts stop. Let me know how you are doing so we can come up with Step 2.

  54. hi, im currently using retin a to clear the acne, and after several months it did wonder to my skin and i dont have any acne, only some acne scars. After seeing some of my friends using sk2 treatment essence, i become very curious about it. im thinking to use sk2 product but i still want to use my retin a.
    my question is, is it okay to use the retina and sk2 treatment essence together? not combining it though, im thinking to put sk2 first then retina.
    thanks a lot

    • I’m so glad that Retin A cleared up your acne. I’m actually working on a series on acne scars and looking at the value and cost of different options.
      Regarding sk2, I’m not sure what product you are refrring to. Do you mean SK-II ? This is an anti aging product that has some good science behind it, but has nothing to do with acne or acne scars. In fact because its rich in emolliants, it can provoke a breakout. If you tell me your age and why you want to use SK-II,then I can help you find the right product.
      And FYI, when using Retin A I never use it over another skin care product because that will block Retin A from going deep into the skin’s layers.

  55. hi, thanks for your reply, i am 22 years old. Its because my friend has been using it and I saw a dramatically improvements on her skin, and I’ve been really curious about the product, also I feel that my skin been sensitive and can get red easily, so I thought this product can calm and improve my skin since it doesn’t have harsh chemical for the skin.. Her skin conditions previously has some brown spots and enlarged pore on T-zone, although hers was still better than my skin conditions now.
    Or, do you have any other recommendations? At least for now, I want to reduce my redness.. Thanks a lot

  56. Hi,

    I have hyperpigmentaion around my eyes and cheek bones and started using Retina A cream two weeks ago. It seems like my skin is getting darker each day. Should I stop the cream? Thank you,


  57. Hiya, i would just like to say. I have been using retin A since the beginning of May for melasma (brown patches on my skin) i was about to stop using it because it was not making any improvement on my skin at all. i was only applying it to the areas where i had the brown patches. it has been a very slow process and i have been feeling very depressed because the brown patches are now on my forehead aswel, but finally i have started to see some improvement, my brown patches are getting lighter in colour, i am so relieved it is finally working for me. I am asian and 40years old.

  58. I am using a sp50 at the moment, can i use a facial scrub on my face while using the retin A.
    Thank you, your beauty blog is always helpful

  59. Hi, I am 59 and I have a Clarisonic which I love but use a few times a week. I have been using Retin A alone one night and the next night, I use the full spectrum of Mary Kay products. No problem. Now, they have a line REPAIR for older women and it seems to irritate my skin the day after I use the Retin A. I do believe there is alcohol in it. The old regime seemed to work fine even using their C serum the next morning. I have discovered that I can use the REpair line two days after I use REtin A. This is making me crazy, all these routines. Would twice a week be sufficient for the Retin A? The new Mary Kay night has retinol in it. Is this a no no? Using retinol products while using REtin A? My derm’s office suggested PRevage MD and says it can be used while using Retin A. I am so confused. Please help! Thank you.

  60. You were so smart to read the label. Yes, retinol and alcohol can be irritating when you are using Retin A. I would stay with your original program of alterrnating CLarisonic and Retin A every other day– and get a refund for the newer Mary Kay product.
    Prevage contains idebone which is a powerful anti-oxidant which is always helpful. However people have commented that Prevage can be very irritating. I would stay with your original plan and try to step up to using Retin A every day for a year. Then you can cut back to 2-3X/week and add other anti-aging tools.

    • THank you. Been on REtinA for a year and a half already. I find it too irritating to use everyday so I thought the PRevage MD would be a good every other day anti-aging serum. Will see my derm in Oct to hash all this out. My skin can tolerate the newer MK stuff as long as it is two days out from Retin A. So what is the general rule about retinol night creams on nights you are not using Retin A. You know so much! I thank you!

      • You might be able to work up to using Retin A more often if your other products are designed for sensitive skin. For example, cleanse your face with a gentle face wash like Cetaphil. Avoid any exfoliating products like scrubs and glycolic peels. At night most doctors are now recommending CereVe PM which is full of natural moisturizing ingredients but nothing that causes irritation. Use this over Retin A. On the days you are not using Retin A, give your skin a chance to settle down and just use CerreVe PM. In the daytime make sure you apply a moisturizer with sunscreen like CereVe AM. To get more out of your beauty budget, rather than buying an expensive line of products, I would look into an office based tool like IPL to refine the skin, erase dark patches, and firm up the surface. FYI you need to stop using Retin A for 48 hours before and after IPL.

      • Thank you. Cetaphil I use occasionally but I find it insufficient to take off make up. THe Clarisonic soaps are really good. I am seeing my dermo in Oct. The Mary Kay actually works really well with the Retin A but the CereVe seems to have many anti-aging ingredients in it! Awesome, thank you!

  61. Hi,

    I’m 34 years old asian. About a year ago my hyperpigmentation started and it’s getting bigger and bigger. Now it’s all over around my eyes, cheek, and forehead. I’m not taking any birth control or never been pregnant. Doctor told me it’s caused by sun, but I doubt it.
    What should I do? Thanks again,


  62. Hi Sara,
    If you send me a photo I will take it to an expert on Asian skin issues and get the best course of treatment for you. You can send it to .
    Dark patches can be triggered by the sun, but the tendancy to produce them has to be there. Lasers and bleaching creams can remove dark patches, but Asian skin may react with more inflammation and pigmentation if these tools are not used properly. Starting today you should go out and a get a 50SPF sunscreen and use it twice a day. It will help block further melanin production.

  63. Hi, Your blog is God sent and I just wanted to appreciate you for the wonderful information. Am Megan and I leave in the beach where its always hot! I do not have acne but I do have years of sun damage and a friend suggested Retin A which I bought 7 months ago. I tried using it back then targeting the hyper pigmentation but I could hardly pass the first week and I only used it twice!

    I have two questions, does retin A reduce the appearance of old marks and treat dry skin in the long run (not caused by retinA) and can I use my old tube of retin A even if it expires next month?

    • Hi Megan,
      Lucky you to live at the beach. I’ve got good news and good news. Retin A was born to reduce sun damage– fine lines, discolorations and rough skin. And although your tube says it will expire next month, I’ve been told by doctors that it will stay active for at least six months past expiration date on the tube. I’ve prepared a Retin A cheat sheet which you can download for free if you like my Facebook page. This will explain how to establish a Retin A program that will avoid irritation and deliver anti-aging results.
      ANd thank you so much for your kind words! Just send me an email if you have additional questions.

  64. Hi Deb,

    I have been taking 1000mg Vitamin C pill daily, should I stop taking it since I’m using Retina A cream daily? Also if it’s possible, could you give me regime on what to use daily for my facial cleaning and moisturizing products. I have combination T zone oily skin and I have been using Christian Dior whitening cream + BB cream (Korean brand) + broad sunblock (SPF 50) + compact powder (Korean brand). I have learned so much from this blog and I want to use right products to see better result for my face.

    Thanks again,


  65. I am 34 years old and recently started using Tretinoin cream base, 0.05%. I used it twice a week for two weeks, then 3 times a week for a week, then every other day for a week. I am now up to every day. I never had irritation at all. Is this normal? I got mine online made in india by johnson and johson limited. Hoping it’s actually working. :/ Also, at my age, is it okay to use everyday? Or should I cut back? Thank you so much!

  66. Hi Melanie;
    You certainly used the right “start low and go slow” technique to gradually introduce your skin to Retin A. This is the best way to avoid irritation and dryness that makes people stop using tretinoin. After about a month of using it every night you should see a liitle rosy glow to indicate an increase in circulation. If you don’t see a difference at all, the tretinoin may not be that active. That is what happened to me when I bought generic tretinoin online. I don’t know what was actually in that yellow goo, but it was not tretinoin. Give your product a total of two months to show a change. If nothing is happening, I would try another brand from the UK or US. Please let me know what is hapening.

  67. HI Deb, I’m a 34 year old acne prone woman. Nothing too serious but always with a bit of a acne on my face. I have just started again with Retin A (tretinion 0.5), having giving up several times due to redness, getting worse etc. The regimen I am doing is as follows:

    Morning: Cleanse with Avene Cleanance Soap Free Facial Gel Cleanser
    and then apply Clinique’s Superdefense SPF 25 Defense Moisturiser for Oily skin

    If I go to the beach – I would also apply Avene’s Cleanance 30 SPF for acne prone skin.

    Night: Cleanse with Avene Cleanance Soap
    Have now started to wait 30 minutes before apply Retin-A 0.5

    Am I following the right process? Should I do anything else?

    Thanks so much for your help! Paola

    • You’re doing great! Just remember that your SPF is just the highest number you are using which would be 25. Using two different products doesn’t give you a higher SPF. Also make sure your make-up is oil-free. Please let me know how it is working for you.

  68. Hi, I’ve been prescribed Benzaclin Gel and Stieva-A 0.25%. But im unsure of when to apply them. Do i cleanse my face and then use the Benzaclin gel and wait 20mins and then use the Stieva-A cream? My doctor just told me to apply after cleansing and the instructions only indicate to “apply as directed”. Help me please. 🙂

    • That’s so maddening. Even a can of soup has better instructions for use. The standard flow when using both of these medications is to apply Benzaclin in the AM after cleansing, followed by an oil free sunscreen. At night apply the Stieva-A cream (which is the name of Retin A in the UK) after cleansing the skin. To avoid irritation you should wait 20 minutes before applying Stieva. You do not need to wait before applying Benzaclin. Keep in mind that it takes 2-3 months to work.

  69. Hi
    I am using Retin-A Micro gel in 0.04%
    I’m 22 years old, and I have oily acne prone skin.
    Since I’ve started on Retin-A my skin has been dry, peeling and flaky but also still oily.
    What can I do to combat these flakes, my skin looks horrible right now. I’ve read that I’m not supposed to exfoliate while on Retin-a, so how can I treat the dryness or at least make the flaky skin less obvious?

    Currently my regime is as follows
    Cleanse with Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash or Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar For All Skin Types
    Apply Shiseido ultra sun Protection Cream Spf 50

    Night: Mon, Weds and Fridays
    Cleanse with Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash or Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar For All Skin Types
    Wait 30 mins to 1 hour
    Apply Retin-A Micro Gel 0.04%

    Every other night, Sun, Tues, Thurs, Saturdays
    Cleanse with Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash or Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar For All Skin Types
    Moisturize with Cerave PM Lotion

    I have the Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion but I find its too thick for my face and it makes me break out.

    Thank you so much in advance for your help.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Teresa,
      Your program is on the right track. I would however switch to fragrance-free, oil free moisturizers and suncreens like those from Aveeno or Neutrogena. Both the Sheiseido and Cereve products are too rich for acne/oily skin. THe peeling you are experiencing is actually a very good sign. The Retin A is dissolving the top layer of dead skin cells and stale oils that are clogging your pores and provoking breakouts. It takes about two months for overactive oil glands to finally calm down, so while I know how hard it is, please try to be patient. THe long lasting results will be worth it. If your skin is dry but not irritated you can try a weekly Clarisonic treatment using the softest brush and clarifying gel. Use it on the day when you are NOT applying Retin A. As your skin becomes more acclimated to Retin A you can increase use of the Clarisonic cleanser.

  70. Thanks for your suggestion! I have the Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+ so I will start using that.

    Just curious what your thoughts about the Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion, SPF 30? I’ve seen this at the drugstore and i’m unsure if this would be good with retin-a.

    So for the peeling skin and flakes, all i can do is leave them alone right? No peeling the skin or brushing them off with a washcloth? I don’t have a Clarisonic, as I’m a poor college student lol. It’s difficult to apply makeup when my skin is all in dry flaky patches.

    Anyway thank you again for your help.

  71. Hello,im from India.. Im 18 yrs now..I’ve just started using Retino-A 0.05%,well its just been 2 days from now.. I wanted to ask you about what type of sunscreen and moisturizer( AVAILABLE in INDIA) should i use while im using retino-a at night..? Please suggest the name with brand..
    My skin is sort of oily and i use the Garnier 3-in-1 facewash which is also a scrub itself,should i discontinue that..? If yes,please let me know which facewash should i use then(which is AVAILABLE in INDIA)..
    Please help me with this cause im really worried about my skin..
    Thank you for your kind help in advance…

    • I don’t know the names of products that are available in India, but I can tell you what kind of products to look for. For a cleanser I would choose a simple oil free fragrance -free soap and avoid using exfoliating scrubs when just starting Retin A. In the morning be sure to apply an oil free, fragrance free sunscreen sinceRetin A increases sensitiviy to UV rays. I would not use a moisturizer at all since it can interfere with the action of Retin A. If your skin get too dry, cut back usage to every other night. Let me know how it is going.

  72. Thank you so much for that advice…
    As you said,i found something as the Lotus Safe Sun UV Screen Matte Gel which is non-oily and PA+++ and SPF 50,can i use it..?
    And for the cleanser,can you please suggest me something in neutregena,ponds,garnier,lotus,jolen,as these are some international brands available in India…

  73. Hi! I have been using Renova for a month now and just have no issues whatsoever with how my skin has responded. I started slow to ease my skin into it. I just noticed a tiny pinpoint broken blood vessel under my eye area. Could this be due to the Renova? I’m using 0.05% Thanks!!

  74. Hello!
    I recently began using Tretinoin 0.1%. I do not have acne but have some very slight acne scarring on the side of my face from when I did get breakouts that I’d like to get rid of. I also have small blackheads on my nose that I’ve never been able to make go away regardless of all my efforts as well as some small ones across and down my cheeks. Will tretinoin be effective for this?? I am planning on using the Cetaphil wash for a.m and p.m as well as the aveeno daily moisturizer with spf 30 in the a.m. Since I have relatively normal to dry skin should I use a moisturizer as well? And if peeling becomes a problem for me can I use my clarisonic with my Cetaphil wash for days I’m not using the tretinoin? I’m planning on using the tretinoin every 3rd night and building up from there as I want to try to avoid irritation as much as possible. Also since I’m not acne prone do you think it will cause me to break out?? Thank you so much for your time!! Please help

  75. I have 2 unopened tubes of Ortho Retin-A 0.1% with an expiry date of May 2012. Will it be still effective if I use it now. Thank you! I have used past expiry date Retin-A in the past without any side effects. I just want to know if it still effective. I have been using this product for at least 20 years with great results.

  76. Thank you for responding so quickly. I had asked the pharmacist and she told me it was no good at all. I did not really believe her. They are in the business of selling prescriptions after all….

    • Its definately not the same as Retin A. Retinols can be effective if they are .5 to 1% in the product. Most retinol products do not list their concentration so its hard to judge their effectiveness. If you tell me what brand it is in I will reach out to the manufacturer and ask about the amounts of ingredients in the formulation.

  77. Thank you, the product i want to try is Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair moisturizer and it says with accelerated retinol SA, its a night cream.

  78. Hey Deb. Its Morgan the one from the beach. I have been using RetinA every fourth night with sunscreen and vaseline as my moisturisers for about a month. I did experience peeling and dryness on and of but on the fourth week i suddenly felt my face burn morning after i applied RA. It got red and extremely dry and I was forced to discontinue. Two weeks later though dull my face had healed and i went back to RA but the next day my face got tender and extremely dry again. Should i throw in the towel?

    • Hmm. A few idas. WHat cleanser are you using and are you waiting 30 minutes after washing your face to apply the Retin A. Also what strength of Retin A are you using? Are you reapplying sunscreen every few hours? And finally how about trying a moisturizer like CereVe which has additional water attracting molecules. If these don’t work, lets talk about alternatives like 1% Retinol and or a glycolic acid program. We’ll find the answer!

      • Thanks for the help. I use 0.05% RA and i do wait 30mins to dry. Well after years of applying lots of chemicals on my face i decided to go for a natural and simplistic skin regime. I use the oil cleansing method to remove make up and dirt and follow it up with an aloe vera soap then i apply vaseline because i have thin and dry skin. In the morning its the same thing but i apply sunscreen spf60 and reapply at lunchtime. Now am peeling and ur ryt a good moisturisizer is needed thanks for the tip.

  79. Hi Deb,

    I sent you my picture of hyper pigmentation face on September 1, 2012. I have been told that you would contact me back after asking person who is specialized with asian skin . So I’m wondering about that response, same time you are not using my pic without my authorization. Sara

    • Hi Sara, I’m so glad you emailed me because I had lost your email and could not get back to you. I am trying to get a specialist in Asian skin to give an opinion but so far no luck. THere are a number of different treatments, but I know that some of them can harm rather than help Asian skin. Please stay in touch with me and I will get some answers for you. And please be assured I would never use your photo without written consent. Best, Deb

  80. Hello! I have previously used retin a .01% gel for a period of about a year and had mixed emotions about the results. I broke out horrendously with deep cystic acne for the first 3 or 4 months, and when it finally cleared I felt like my skin was simply back to the mediocre state it was in before the break outs caused by the retin a. Between laziness and sleeping at my boyfriends, I slowly started weening off and using retin a less and less, finally making the switch to proactive along with clinique pore refining products and a moisturizer and spot treatment from lush (great, basic, natural products with no reaction). My skin is clear and virtually zit free, but the marks from zits are lingering and i dont have the rejuvinated and renewed sense i got from retin a. My doctor said to continue retin a use with proactiv, and I am interested in the anti aging benefits of retin a, but I am afraid that a) restarting retin a after a 3 or 4 month break will re cause the horrid break outs i had when i initially began the product and b) that if i add another product to my regimine my face will simply freak out. Sorry this is so long, but what is your opinion on restarting? Will it cause the break outs again? Is that too much on my face? Does proactiv and/or the clinique pore refining solutions correcting serum/pore refining solutions instant perfector do the trick for regenerating collogen and speeding up the skin cell renewla process? Sorry again this is a loaded post, and I appreciate any answers you have for me!

    • I have received so many e-mails that detail the same break-out problems with Retin A. What doctors don’t seem to understand is that cysts and simple whiteheads leave lingering scars– and using a medication that adds to the problem is not a good cosmetic result. Rather than go back on Retin A, I would try home microdermabrasion( eg CLarisonic) and 10% glycolic peel toners to work on the discoloration and prevent further breakouts. It will also wake up the skin and refine texture. FYI Neutrogena or CVS microdermabrasion kits are less than $30, about 80% lower than brand name CLarisonic.

  81. Hi,

    I just started using Retin A gel and was researching what to do about my red face when I found your site. It has a lot of useful information. Thanks! I did have a question, though. At the top of this page you state to wash your face and wait ten minutes before applying the Retin A then wait ten more minutes before applying moisturizer. When I began to read the comments you stated in some areas to wait 30 minutes or even 60 minutes before applying Retin A or a moisturizer. Is it best to wait as long as you can before applying the Retin A and then again a moisturizer? The theory being the longer you wait the more time Retin A has to soak into your sink? And the longer you wait the between washing and Retin A the less irritated your face will be? Thanks.

    • THe most important wait time is between washing your face and applying Retin A . If your face is reddened, then I would wait at least 30 minutes. Then you can wait about 10 minutes and apply the moisturizer. This is to allow the Retin A to sink in and not be disturbed by the moisturizer. If the redness continues you can drop back to using Retin A every other day. Also make sure you are using a very mild cleanser. Hope this helps!

  82. Hi There,

    What an informative site! I’m hoping you can help me figure out how to make Retin A work for me. I am 50 years old and was prescribed the .01 strength cream. I was prescribed it for acne (due to hormone replacement) but am naturally looking forward to the anti-aging as well! I started out every third day, increased to every other day and then tried to move to every night. My skin is so flaky and feels sunburned and tight. I’ve cut back to every other night again but my face is still sore. I feel like I need a heavier moisturizer to help with the flaking and sensitivity but don’t want to trigger more breakouts. The Dermologica barrier repair helps some but not enough. I’m also using a Clarisonic twice daily to try and help with the flakes. It’s been 5 weeks and I am starting to see improvements but the dryness and flaking is making me nuts. Help!

    • I’m so glad you find the site useful. At .01% you are using a fairly mild g form of Retin A. I would use it every other, even every third night for at least one to two months to reduce irritation and redness. I would also stop Clarisonic entirely until your skin calms down. I don’t recommend using any exfoliation during the first six months of using Retin A. You’re so smart not to load up your face with heavy moisturizers since it will definately increase risk of breakouts. Use a mild cleanser like Cetaphil will reduce irritation and flaking. And be sure to use an oil free sunscreen every morning because Retin A makes the skin more vulnerable to UV rays. Stay with it and you’re going to look gorgeous!

  83. I delighted to hear that. CereVe has two powerful water attracting ingredients– hyaluronic acid and ceramides. THere’s real science behind the formulation and its shows in the results. And even better– its only about $15 a jar. THanks for sharing your experience

  84. IF you play the CVS game of the Extracare card, you get emails for 25 percent off. They sometimes have the buy one, buy one at 50 percent on the CeraVe. Plus, they have a beauty club in which you earn money back so the 16 dollar tub of CeraVe, with coupons and a sale price, I got for 8 dollars! LOL

  85. Hi,
    I’ve been reading through the questions and answers and there’s a lot of good information. I’ve been using Retin-A since I was 30 (I’m now 47) in the .1 cream strength. I’ve just switched to the .1 gel and it’s very drying. I have very dry skin to begin with (living in CO, there’s next to no humidity) and this is causing my skin to become even drier and tight. Is there a moisturizer you would recommend to use in both the day and evenings?
    Thanks for you response!

    • I would start with CereVe PM for the evening and A moisturizer with a sunscreen in the AM. If your skin remains dry you can apply Aquaphor at night to really restore oil and allow skin to build up a healthy moisture level.

  86. Hello! I have been using the generic Retin-a for about three weeks now and this blog has really helped me. I have a couple of questions, though, and did not see the answers to them (its poss I missed them). I used Bare Minerals make-up, it really helps to hide the spots that have been popping up since starting the treatment. I want to know if Bare Minerals is okay to use or if it will stop the Retin-a’s effectiveness. I was also wondering if you know about Retin-a’s effectiveness for KP (keratosis pilaris). I have these bumps on my upper arms and my doctor prescribed the cream for this, too. I have been treating my arms the same way as my face, using the cetaphil cleanser two times a day. Any help with these questions would be great!

    • I am a big fan of Bare Minerals for oiy, acne prone and sensitive skin. It will not interfere with Retin A treatment, while traditional liquid foundations may provoke sensitive skins. Retin A also works for KP, but glycolic acid and microdermabrasion also work very well, perhaps even better. DermaDoctor has several excellent products for KP and would be less expemsive than Retin A.

      • Thank you so much for your quick response. I have already tried DermaDoctor and it did not help. I looked at microdermabrasion reviews but they were not very helpful because most had to do with the face and not the body. Is there another product you would recommend (that is inexpensive…I do not have alot of money!)?

        • I am not sure what is causing the hyperpigmentation on your legs, so I am not certain that Retin A is the solution. THe skin on the arms and legs is usually dry, and Retin A would increase this dryness. However if you want to try it, I would use a very rich moisturizer like Aquaphor rather than glycerin to keep flaking undercontrol. Please let me know how the Retin A is dealing with your problem.

  87. Hi, I also want to discuss about skin problem.After our traditional water festival, I got some hyper pigmentation like small blackish coloration like freckles over my legs starting around ankle and then more dispersed up to shin gradually within 6months duration.Yesterday, I bought Retin-A 0.025% and glycerin.I decided to apply RetinA first and then glycerin every night. Would it be Ok? Please help and recommend me what should I do. Thank you for giving me a lot of information you answered.

  88. Hi!
    I love your site. It has so much helpful advice. I have a couple questions for you. I have been using Atralin for a few years now and was up to every other night. I would mix or layer a moisturizer over it before bed. Well, the nurse at the derms office told me not to do that because i want the skin to peel and I need to forge ahead and get up to using every night so my skin adjusts. She said using moisturizer over the Atralin was going to make it not as effective, I wouldn’t peel as much, so my skin would not adjust as quickly. So, I listened to her and stopped doing moisturizer and now my skin is peeling/flaking off around my mouth and nose. And I have not even stepped up the frequency.
    Also, I read something above about the Clarisonic. When my face is peeling off I thought that it was smart to use the Clarisonic to gently slough off the flakes. Is that wrong?
    Also, I use Obagi Toner (no alcohol) to balance out the PH on my skin after cleansing day and night. Is this ok??? Or is it causing more irritation?
    sorry for all the questions, but I do appreciate your knowledge!

    • Hi katie,
      So glad you find the site helpful. When you are using Retin A ( Atralin) in your skin care regimen, you want to make certain that your other products don’t interfere. You didn’t mention your age, but if the nurse recommended avoiding a moisturizer, than I’m guessing that you’re looking for help with breakouts. The nurse is right that you want the skin to peel sunce its a sign that the pores are becoming unclogged– the first step to ending breakouts. A moisturizer will just block them up again. However a Clarisonic or any exfoliator is too strong to use in the first six months of Retin A therapy. I would wash your face with a mild cleanser like Cetaphil and then stay with an every other night schedule with Retin A. Stop using the toner, any toner ( it is irritating) but be sure to use an oil-free sunscreen during the day. You will need to stick with this and after 2-3 months your skin should be gorgeous.

  89. Hi! Thanks for the response. Sorry I did not mention my age, I am 31. So, I am using the Atralin for anti aging purposes. Is her advice still correct?
    I have been using Retina for a few years, it’s just until I started not using moisturizer over it and combining with Obagi Blender than it started getting more dried out and peeling. So, since I’ve been doing Retina for awhile I did not think the Clarisonic was bad, it really gets the makeup off before I put on my night products. Maybe i’ll stop so much though.
    I use the Elta tinted SPF 41 every day and that is fine as long as my skin is not so dry, otherwise it looks bad over the peeled skin.
    I am also considering switching from Atralin Gel .05 to the Refessa you talk about. Is that even worthwhile, or are they similiar anyway? Maybe I just need to use the moisturizer (cerave PM) after Retina before bed.
    Let me know your advice now that you know my age and thanks again!

    • Hi again!
      I never heard back after my follow up post.
      I have another question right now. I went to my derm yesterday and they recommended Revision Intellishade tinted 45 since my skin was dry and I felt that Obagi sunscreen with ZInc and Titanium was drying it out more. Well, I looked up the Intellishade ingredients and the sunscreen is: Octinoxate 7.5%, octisalate 5%, zinc oxide 2%.
      After looking up info on Octinoxate and Octisalate I was sort of freaked out. Are these acutally bad for my skin and could cause more aging, one site actually mentioned Octinoxate interrupting hormones. What are your thoughts?? I don’t want to put something on my face everyday that could be bad….

      • There are two types of sunscreens- chemical like Octinoxate and and physical like zinc oxide. My main problem with chemical sunscreens is that they can be very irritating for people with rosacea or acne– not for all but for some. Physical sunscreens are far less irritating and are becoming increasingly popular. Regarding questions of hormone disruption, there are almost constant warnings about common ingredients. Some are based on science and others on science fiction. However to avoid a wide range of problems I like to recommend the simplest formulations that still work– as well as limit the number of products we use each day. My basic product advice is to buy from a company like Sephora or CVS that has a consumer friendly return policy. I am working on a large article on Retin A and acne which should be helpful for your skin care.

  90. Hi, Im glad I found this site because I didnt know much about what I was being perscribed and not much was explained to me when I saw my dermatologist so I started looking it all up and found this site! Ive read a lot of your replies and I keep seeing that you dont recommend any lotion if the skin is oily with using Retin a! I have pretty oily skin and I have moderate acne! I was given a prescription for amoxicillin 500mg twice a day, clindamycin phosphate to apply in the morning and retin a at night!! I was told to apply lotion at night with the retin a! I wash my face at night with cetaphil cleanser for normal to oily skin, apply retin a every other night then apply Neutrogena light night cream every night. In the morn I use same cleanser appy the clindamycin and then put on Oil Free neutrogena spf 35 moisturizer! If I dont apply lotion my face burns really bad from both retin a and the clindamycin.. Ive been doing this for 5 days now and im ready to give up because my face hurts but I dont want to if I dont have to!! Help me please : )

    • THe regimen perscribed by your dermatologist is an excellent approach and I love your product choices. All the bases are covered with the Retin A to control the oiliness and the antibiotics to reduce the organisms that are part of the pimple process. But each individual is different and I think you can tweak the program a bit to make you more comfortable. Make sure that you are waiting at least 30 minutes between the time you are washing your face and you are applying Retin A. You did not say what type of Retin A you are using but some are more irritating than others. Retin A Micro .04% is effective but less irritating than generic Retin A.
      I have usually seen that the lotion is applied over Retin A not on the night when you are not using it, so you could try that to reduce irritation. Try to stick with the RetinA program for at least a month. If its just too uncomfortable, it might not be the best choice for you. If you are over 24, you may have hormonal acne which needs estrogen based medication ( eg birth control pills) to bring the acne under control.

      • Thank you so much for replying back!! The retin A i am using is retin a micro 0.04% (tretinoin gel)! I am 29 so when I go back to my derm I will ask her about the birth control!! I backed off on the retin a for now to every other day and I started waiting for about a hf hr maybe a little longer to apply it (which I was applying it right after washing my face) and that has made a huge difference, my face isnt irritated at all anymore!! Thanks again for the reply back

  91. Hello, I am writing in need of a lot of advice. I am nearly 27 years old and was given retin-a at a med spa to use as an anti-aging product. I was unfortunately not told what could/could not interact with it as it was a last minute buy. It worked wonderfully at first…I eased into it but by week 4 I noted that my Retinol night cream and Neutragena sunscreen was making my face burn. I thought that just meant I must have new skin and it was just being sensitive. I then made the mistake of using an exfoliate, and boy, I burnt the crap out of my face. I had new wrinkles and a raw red appearance. I also had been using more than a pea size amount. I decided to let my skin repair itself and only use my retinal night cream and sunscreen, and no retin-a or scrub. Two weeks later, my skin was back to normal. I went to a beauty store, said I would be going back on retin-a and that I needed a natural gentle exfoliate for the flakes. I put retin-a on again, only once and only a pea sized amount and when I began to peal the next day I used the new exfoliate….and I burnt my skin terribly again. All my pores are now open, I have uneven skin tone, terrible acne, and an orange peel texture. Also, my skin always feels tacky/sticky. It looks like my skin has aged 10 years overnight. I realize this is noone’s fault but my own, as I should have looked into retin-a and how to use it instead of just taking it when offered. This was my first for ray into anti aging products. So, question: Is my skin permanently damaged? And if not, how long till it goes back to being smooth and pore-less as it was before? Thanks so much for your time. (Also, I am currently only washing with cetaphil and moisturizing under my eyes with a Skinceuticals Epidermal Repair and am now reintroducing my sunblock. It has been 3 weeks since I stopped Retin-a totally. I visited a dermatologist who spent no time with me and gave me Differin cream, but I am scared of any chemicals now.)

    • Its so maddening that Retin A products are dispensed without good instructions. In your case, 27 is pretty young to be using Retin A for anti-aging. As a general rule of thumb, in your twenties you can use it twice a week, in the thirties, 3 times, forties, 4 times and every night over 50. So you should not be using it more than twice a week. For the first six months you need to avoid using any products that contain, alcohol, exfolitating agents ( like grains, glycolic acid, and beta hydroxy acids) as they are too irritating.
      I would dial back your skin care to just using a mild cleanser like Neutrogena glycerin bar soap. If you skin is super dry for the next month I would apply a thin layer of CereVe or Aquaphor at night and a mild 30SPF sunscreen during the day. If you have breakouts, I would avoid all creams and lotions and use a mineral sunscreen from Bare Minerals. A three month course of antibiotics in either in pill form of in a topical gel will help to quiet the breakouts. A mild glycolic peel from a dermatologist would also jump start the healing process.
      When you skin calms down, I would use glycolic acids peels and toners rahter than the much moer irritating Retin A. At your age and for the next 5-10 years, these prodcuts will offer gentle anti-aging benefits without the drawbacks of Retin A. Please let me know how you are doing.

  92. Hi there,
    well I just want to provide a brief update from my previous post following your recommendations.
    I stopped using moisturiser because its so hot here and i really don’t need it (you were right it stopped my blackheads!) I use cetaphil cleanser the gentle one everyday, i stopped using the antibiotics because i felt i didn’t need them. It’s been almost a month since my last post and the clogged pores in my left cheek have cleared up, but now i have some clogged pores in my right cheek. I just don’t know why this is happening. I have added a light salicylic acid face wash in the mornings (the glycolic one was way too harsh), but i use it a couple of times a week as it can be too drying. Is there any reason why i am getting these blocked pores? I would love to know your thoughts and advice on this. I use a retin a cream 0.05% and my skin has become oily once again after a year on accutane. Could the cream be too heavy for my skin? or could it be my foundation? WIll i *ever* stop getting clogged pores on retin-a? i look forward to hearing from you!
    Thank you and best regards 🙂

  93. Hi, just to add some further detail.. I spoke with my dermatologist this morning and she advised i should stop changing prodcuts and give my skin a break. SHe also advised i use the cetaphil lotion in the morning. She believes i am breaking out as i have irritated my skin. I am very confused now.
    Best regards,

  94. I don’t think the problem is from changing products as much as it is using too manay products. Combining antibiotic and Retin A therapy is currently considered best practices when using Retin A. You can take antibiotics by mouth or in topical gels, and it seems to help with the purging that is part of Retin A acne treatment. You might want to ask for retin A in gel form if the cream formulation is adding to the problems.
    Accutane does put oil glands to sleep and the hope is that they stay quiet after using it for a year. But some people certainly report that the oiliness increases again.
    I would seriously consider trying a three month course of hormone therapy to get things under control. If you acne is driven by out of whack estrogen/testerone levels, nothing you put on the skin it going to do the job.

  95. Hi again!!
    I am really interested in trying the Refessa. Can you explain what the difference is between the Refessa and Atralin .05%? RIght now my derm says I’m on a gel trentoin product that is not as drying. But I wonder if Refessa would be even better.

  96. Good morning, it has pass 8 months since i am using Retin- A 0,05 ( tretinoin). I am 32, have a bit acne skin, but not oily. FRom time to time i have breakouts. I was looking to use Skinoren( Azelaic Acid) . Could you please advise me whta is the best way to combine it in my regime? Can i mix it with tretinoin? Thank you for yr support.

  97. Hi! I had a question about skin after you get off birth control pills. I got off my BC a couple years ago and it was a nightmare. My skin was totally different and broken out. After trying a bunch of different options over a year and a half I finally just got back on the pill instead of the IUD. I was curious what can be taken when you decide to get off BC all together so your skin doesn’t spaz out. If I want to get pregnant or just get off these pills what are my options to still have my skin look how it does when on the pill? Are there pills you can take daily with the skin benefits?

  98. Hi! I started using tretinoin cream 0.05% 4 days ago. I use Neutrogena Naturals purifying face wash and Ponds dry skin moisturizer. My face has a slight tingle, but I’m already starting to notice my acne scars fading and my skin is brighter. My face burns a little when I wash it but I just spray some Lush Tea Tree Water Toner before I apply my moisturizer. I think I can tolerate it in order to have good results.

    • Hi Mercedes,
      You sound like you are off to a great start. If the dryness or tingling get too strong, you can cut back to using it everyother day for a few weeks and dradually build up to using it seven days a week. Sometimes Retin A can seem to provoke more breakouts before it gets better. If this happens ask you doctor for a benzyl peroxide/antibiotic combo ike Benzaclin to help you get over this development. Let me know how you’re doing.

  99. Hi! I had a question about skin after you get off birth control pills. I got off my BC a couple years ago and it was a nightmare. My skin was totally different and broken out. After trying a bunch of different options over a year and a half I finally just got back on the pill instead of the IUD. I was curious what can be taken when you decide to get off BC all together so your skin doesn’t spaz out. If I want to get pregnant or just get off these pills what are my options to still have my skin look how it does when on the pill? Are there pills you can take daily with the skin benefits?

  100. Hi Katie,
    I’ve been trying to get an expert answer to your question. Apparently the guidelines for acne treatment are changing and all the docs are waiting to see what they are. Docs are slowly coming around to the fact the hormonal acne is a persistant problem that does not respond to the usual treatment plans. ( If only they had listened to us) New studies point to the use of Retin A at night, Benzaclin in the morning as well as oral antibiotics and monthly glycolic peels are needed to keep this type of skin clear. Most of the women I’ve met with this type of acne stay on birth control pills until they want to get pregnant. Usually the skin clear stays clear after the baby arrives. As soon as I can get the definitive info I will be doing a four part series on acne care and scar treatment.

  101. Hi there,
    I’ve posted before about my troubles with retin a. I visited my derm and she put me on accutane again, 20 mg every 2 days. She also advised that i stay on the retin a. I asked her about a gel formula but she dismissed me (for the second time). SHe said i am starting to get oily again and that’s why my pores are clogging. Do you think it’s safe to use retin a and 20 mg of accutan every 2 days? WIll it even provide any benefit? I’ve never heard anyone doing such a thing…… concerned. Thank you for the great site! xxx

  102. That does should pretty extreme to me– and oily skin is perfect for gel formulations. I just came back from a conference that dealt with latest treatment programs for acne and doubling up on both retin a and accutane was not one of them. Let me ask around and see what my favorite derms think. I am also doing the final edit on a series on acne and actually have the latest thinking on standards of care as well as unique treatments for resistant acne. Its taken longer than I thought because of FDA changes on acne medications. THings are pretty well sorted out now and I’ve got solid info backed up with good studies.

  103. Hi Deb and thanks for your VERY helpful site. I am 52, with actually pretty good skin in terms of minimal wrinkles and sagging, some discolorations/age spots. I started Retin A
    3 -1/2 months ago. I use 0.5% every night on a clean dry face and apply moiturizer 10 minutes later. I still have occasional flaking but it is minimal and gone the day after. I have not noticed really any benefits at all… fact, I have a couple small age/sun spots popping up. This is all very disappointing as I have heard such good about Retin A.
    My questions are….
    1. is it common for skin to sometimes get worse before it gets better?
    2. If I don’t see much results after 3-1/2 months, like less age spots, tighter skin, etc…should I just discontinue it? How common is it that it will take much longer? Seems I should be at least noticing something at this point.
    Thanks very much, Deb.

    • Hi Kim,
      When used for acne management Retin A can cause an increase in breakouts before the skin calms down. However when used for signs of aging, it should not get worse. You did not mention if you applied the Retin A at night and used at least a 30SPF during the day. Retin A can increse skin sensitivity to UV rays. If you don’t have sun protection you can get additional spots.
      Much of the benefits from Retin A are below the skin where its increasing collagen growth. To quickly clear up age spots on the surface I suggest IPL, also known as the lunchtime laser. You can see these photos of my before and after IPL photos in my photo gallery on Facebook.

      • Thanks Deb…I will check out your FB page right away. I use a foundation with 20 SPF daily, but have an indoor job and truthfully am only outside for very short times (i.e. walking into a store). I live where it is very cold and snowy during the winter months (as in the amount of time I have been using Retin A), so am indoors a lot. What is the usual range of time to start noticing benefits from daily use of Retin A?
        Thank you again.

        • Can you tell white brand of Retin A you are using and if its a gel or cream? Another form may give you more results. Usually within six weeks you will see a “pinking” of the skin indicating an increased circulation and growth of collagen below. But Retin A is only one leg of an anti-aging program. Lasers and other tools can make a more dramatic improvement.

  104. The brand is Johnson and Johnson, cream, .5%. I’d love to try lasers and other things, it’s the cost that is a concern. That is why I had so much hope for Retin A. I will just keep using it. Maybe I will just have results after most people do. Thanks! : )

  105. So just a quick question. I cannot seem to find a moisturizer that will keep my skin from drying out in the eye area(maybe too close)as well as the laugh line(nose and mouth) all get very irritated, red, and flaky. Any advice on moisturizers? How close can I apply RA to my eye, nose, mouth area. TIA.


    • You can put plain Retin A on the nose and laugh lines, but nowhere near the eye. Triluma which is a combination of cortisone, hydroquinone and Retin A can be used under the eyes and on crows feet but not on the lide or under the brow bone. In the next month I will be doing a post on men and Retin A since the guidelines can differ. For example, some experts suggest using Retin A only on areas where there is no beard growth such as the forehead and upper cheeks. I will email you when it appears.

  106. Hi

    Thanks for all this info!

    Does one really need to wash the face before applying retin A? Have heard recently that only once a day washing is really needed in general when not wearing make up, and I wash it in the morning. Wondering if at night I can just apply the retin A without washing my face.


    • Yes, you need to wash your face every night to remove the dirt, bacterria and stale oil that accumulates on top. Not only does this sticky layer slow down cell growth it blocks access to the skn cells interferring with the activity of Retin A.

  107. Hi again! I wanted to get your opinion on your favorite at home glycolic peel. Also, how would this work into my skincare routine with the Retina. Do I have to stop certain products before and after the peel for a few days or not? Instead of paying $60 for a glycolic peel at the derms office I think it would make more sense for me to just buy one of the at home kits with the pads and do it myself every 2 weeks.

  108. HHi
    I have been using retain a gel 0.025% since may 2012 and there is no difference in my skin. I have dark brown patches on my forehead and cheeks, and they are not fading, should I carry on using the gel or can you suggest other treatment, I’ve been told it could be melasma, is this the same as hyperpigmentation? Please help

  109. THere are several things that could be going on here.At .025% , your Retin A is a very mild concentration so you can certainly go up to .1% for additional activity. If you are not using a strong sunscreen every day, the new melanin formation is just overwhelming the activity of the Retin A. To increase Retin A activity, some dermatologists also recommend using a mild weekly glycolic peel to help Retin A absorption. If the melasma persists you can ask your dermatologist if you are a candidate for low level lasers like IPL or CLear and Brilliant.

    • Hiya
      Thank you so much for your speedy response.
      Can you tell me what melasma is, is it the same as hyperpigmentation?
      I can’t afford to have other treatments, but I have seen a cream from skin cueticals,its called skin regulated, would this be any good for me. Also should I wear SPF as its cold in the UK, I only wear a separate spf50 in the summer, in winter I use a moisturizer with spf15, is this correct?
      Thank you

  110. You should be able to find glycolic acid peels in Boots for less than $50 and it could boost the effectivenss of Retin A. Skinceuticals has an excellent 1% Retinol cream that is equal to about.025% Retin A. I think you will get more for your money from adding a weekly glycolic peel to your treatment plan rather than changing to Retinol.

    Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term for unwanted areas of darkened skin. Melasma is defined as large areas of darker skin with well defined borders. ANother type of hyperpigmentation is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) which is a darkening of areas where there was an acne eruption or bug bite. PIH is seen more in women of color but can occur in most skin tones.

    I like your choices for sunscreen. I’ve spent time in the UK in winter and over exposure to sun is not a problem. Please let me know how you are doing.

    • Hiya,

      I am so grateful for your help once again.
      I will definatly be paying a visit to Boots to buy some glycolic peel.
      Can I just say, I am 42years old and asian, I have not been pregnant in more than 20 years, I am not on any contraceptives or taken any in 20 years and I am not taking HRT tablets and yet these are the causes for melasma?
      My brown patches on my cheeks, forehead and sides of my eyes do look like melasma, as I have seen images on the net, but I’m wondering, could it be something else?

      Thank you


      • Melasma is most common during pregnancy but in more reactive skin ( like Asian skin) mealsma can happen just from even low levels of sun exposure. Glycolic peels are especially effective for hyperpigmentation in Asian skin, especially when combined with Retin A. Even though UK is far from sunny, UV rays can exist even in cloudy days. Try using a higher SPF and stay with the Retin A and glycolic peels. Several experts have admitted to me that its the most effective and safest way to deal with the problem in Asian skin.

  111. Hi,
    should I use the glycolic peel and apply the retin A immediatly, or should I wait a little while before applying, and then do I still add moisturiser on top?
    looking forward to your comment.
    Thank you

  112. Hi Deb…..I have used Retin A 0.5% for 4 solid months and see little results. I had asked you about it and you said maybe trying the 1% would help. Before I buy it I have a question which may sound funny but I’m truly curious…..wouldn’t just using more of the 0.5%, perhaps one light layer on top of another, be about the same as using the 1%?
    Thanks! Kim

  113. Hi Deb!!! First I would like to thank you for all the patience you have in answering all the question and taking our concerns and pains seriously.
    I just started my Retino -A 0.05% from today, wanted to clarify few things before i proceed it for longer period. My Daily cycle would be I use FASH face wash for my face, use ATTITUDE Whitening Cream, wash my face evening to apply OLAY Night Cream (shifted this to evening, which i used to use for night) and planning to use the RETINO-A at Night.
    Want to know if i need to have any changes in my routine.
    Thanks a ton in advance

      • Hi Deb,
        I am using this for pimples, but after seeing the review and i am also in my early 30’s it should be good for aging too. But you can suggest me or advice me for my pimples. I am tired of this pimples 🙁

      • Hi Deb,
        Not sure if you had chance to read my reply below. please suggest. Retino-A has completely peeling my skin with burning sensation, cant even widen my mouth for food, it gets tightened dry…..

        I am using this for pimples, but after seeing the review and i am also in my early 30′s it should be good for aging too. But you can suggest me or advice me for my pimples. I am tired of this pimples 🙁

        • I did not see your letter until just now. You need to stop using Retin A immediately and call your dermatologist for a different treatment. Many women cannot use Retin A, especially women of color. He will deal with your pimples and in your 30’s, true aging is years away. I don’t want to recommend anything else before you see a dermatologist. Let me what program is prescribed.

  114. Hi Deb, I know you’re busy but wasn’t sure if you saw my question above. Here it is again…THANKS! : )
    Hi Deb…..I have used Retin A 0.5% for 4 solid months and see little results. I had asked you about it and you said maybe trying the 1% would help. Before I buy it I have a question which may sound funny but I’m truly curious…..wouldn’t just using more of the 0.5%, perhaps one light layer on top of another, be about the same as using the 1%?
    Thanks! Kim

  115. I have really enjoyed reading all of the information on this thread. Way off the subject but I have struggles with KP for years and after the birth of my second child my thighs and back of my legs are such a struggle. Any recommendations you’ve come across? I’ve read a lot about Apple Cider Vinegar, but honestly, I’ve read a lot about a lot and nothings has worked. I’ve had KP on the back of my arms as longs as I can remember.

  116. Hi! I read about the wonders of Apple Cider Vinegar toner and was wondering if I could layer it with tretinoin at night. I would apply the toner after washing my face, wait 25-30 minutes then apply the tretinoin. I have read that AHAs may deactivate the tretinoin, so that’s my main concern.

    • If you are just starting out with tretinoin I would not use any toner, if its a nautural one like Apple cidar vinegar. If you have already been using tretinoin for awhile and your skin is not dry or irritated you could add a toner. I’ve never heard that AHA’s deactivate Tretinoin. However most forms of the retinoid are incompatiable with benzoyl peroxide.

  117. Hi, I really like your blog -it definitely answers a lot of my questions! But i do have 2 more:

    (1) I use Ziana (combo Clindamycin and Tretinoin) on my face nearly every night since Sept. It was prescribed for acne (last summer had sudden unusual breakouts with cystic acne that I never had before; I am 41 and am on the microgestin pill). Anyway, I am enjoying the ‘rejuvenating’ benefits of it, presumably from the Tretinoin. Once the acne settles, however, I wonder if I should try to switch to pure retin-A? Does the Clindamycin detract from retin-A or age the skin?

    (2) Are sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide more powerful? Better for sensitive skin? Less likely to clog pores? I have been struggling finding a high SPF moisturisor to wear that won’t irritate the skin or clog pores. I’d prefer a slightly tinted one (I do love Origin’s Vitazing, but it is only SPF 15).

  118. I have dark brown patches on my cheeks and forehead, i was prescribed retin a 0.025% and i have been applying this to my patches only, not all over my face, i have been using this for a year now with my spf30 and botanic moisturiser and there has been no change, the patches have not faded at all. What else can i do. I would be grateful for your advice. Thank you.

    • Hi Paula, You have been using a very low concentration of Retin A, so I’m not that surprised that it has not dealt with your dark patches. I have three suggestions” 1. You can ask your doctor for a stronger Retin A such at .1% Retin A Micro which is 4x as strong as the forumulation you are now using. 2. You can get a series of 70% glycolic peels from a dermatologist 3. If you generally lighter skin, you can use very mild lasers such as IPL which will clear of the surface in one or two treatments. I’m so glad that you are using a 30SPF sunscreen and you should keep using it whatever treatment you choose. Please let me know if you need additional info.

    • It is not dangerous to use Retin A continuously for years. When in a combination like Triluma derms suggest using it for just three months followed by a three month treatment free holiday. After two years of Retin A daily use, you will get just as much benefits when you use it very other day– with less chance of irritation.

  119. Thank You so much for your blog! This is sooo informative….I work on a yacht and I hardly have time to stop and visit a dermatologist. I just stopped in RI so hopefully I will find one here.
    I have a few questions and I was gonna ask whether I can email you personally….
    In the meantime, here are a few obvious ones…
    I just turned 38, and have been trying to deal with forehead lines and crows feet for the last 3 or 4 years I think…everybody stopped me from starting Retin A, however, I was on an island in the Caribbean and I bought two tubs over the counter, one is 0.025% and the other is 0.05%.
    The brand is Janssen Clag.
    I have dry skin, and I am trying to use Retin A for anti aging. I have no age spots or melisma, but a bit of discoloration due to past sun damage… In the meantime….
    I went home in Europe 5 months ago and a family doctor (not a dermatologist) put me on Medik 8 products…not sure if I am allowed to mention brand names…let me know if I cannot…
    I have bought the Retinol 3 TR, it says it ‘Contains highly stable, pure, encapsulated all-trans retinol at 0.3% concentration.’
    I started using it in the evenings twice a week then p to every other day.. I also bought a dermastamp (like a dermaroller) for areas of concern…crows feet, nasolabial folds (now just starting to show up since I turned 37 but never had them before…)

    I decided to also try the Retin A 0.025, alternating it with Retinol 0.3%.
    My regimen in the evenings looks something like this…:
    Dermastamp and Retinol .3% on Monday
    Retin A on Tuesday
    Nothing on Wednesday
    Then again…dermastamp and Retion Thursday
    Retin A Friday..
    Nothing on Saturday… etc…

    I have been doing this for about 2 months..
    No major irritation, my skin feels dry, but have not had any WOW effects…

    Before I continue with other questions… please tell me if I am doing this right, OR if you think retinol 0.3% is a waste of money…and I should step up the other tube of 0.05 pure Retin A (maybe at least only on my forehead wrinkles since they are getting deeper?)

    I am using Extra Gentle Facial Cleanser from Neutrogena and their alcohol free toner too! I much prefer the Toleraine Cleanser though… from La Roche Posay

    I will talk to you about moisturisers that I am using (and not happy with) and also the C serum I am using…
    thanks look forward to hear from you…I am giving up its so frustrating spending money on cosmetics.. without them working . 🙁

  120. Hi. So glad I came across this blog. Retin a cream contains a pore clogging ingredient , isopropyl mystriate. Why should this be since retin a is prescribed for acne? Secondly, I used the gel formular for 2 months with good results but switched to the cream formular, 0.05, a week ago, because I just couldn’t find the gel formular anywhere. I have oily skin and have been clear for a year and half. What is your experience with those who have been acne free, but have oily skin like I do, and the use of the cream formular of retin a, which contains a pore clogging ingredient, isopropyl mystriate? Thank you.

    • I certainly recommend gel formulations for all medications if you have oily skin. I will ask my experts which brands of Retin A are in gel formulations.

  121. I would like to know, is it safe to use an avon products – anew rejuvenate day revitalizing cream during breastfeeding?. Please advise, thank you.

  122. Hey again deb, what do you think of my regimen ? I am referring to my question further up, thanks for your information.

      • OK here it is 🙂
        I work on a yacht and I hardly have time to stop and visit a dermatologist. I just stopped in RI so hopefully I will find one here.

        I just turned 38, and have been trying to deal with forehead lines and crows feet for the last 3 or 4 years I think…everybody stopped me from starting Retin A, however, I was on an island in the Caribbean and I bought two tubs over the counter, one is 0.025% and the other is 0.05%.
        The brand is Janssen Clag.
        I have dry skin, and I am trying to use Retin A for anti aging. I have no age spots or melisma, but a bit of discoloration due to past sun damage… In the meantime….

        I have bought the Retinol 3 TR, it says it ‘Contains highly stable, pure, encapsulated all-trans retinol at 0.3% concentration.’
        I started using it in the evenings twice a week then up to every other day.. I also bought a dermastamp (like a dermaroller) for areas of concern…crows feet, nasolabial folds (now just starting to show up since I turned 38 but never had them before…)

        I decided to also try the Retin A 0.025, alternating it with Retinol 0.3%.
        My regimen in the evenings looks something like this…:
        Dermastamp and Retinol .3% on Monday
        Retin A on Tuesday
        Nothing on Wednesday
        Then again…dermastamp and Retinol Thursday
        Retin A Friday..
        Nothing on Saturday… etc…

        I have been doing this for about 2 months..
        No major irritation, my skin feels dry, but have not had any WOW effects…

        Before I continue with other questions… please tell me if I am doing this right, OR if you think retinol 0.3% is a waste of money…and I should step up the other tube of 0.05 pure Retin A (maybe at least only on my forehead wrinkles since they are getting deeper?)

        Thank you! I also use a vitamin C serum in the morning, and a 30% glycolic peel at home every 3 weeks or month.


  123. Good day,
    I am prone to Hyperpigmentation so the simplest of things or pimple leaves a spot. so unfortunately I have spots all over my face and a large blotch on one side. I bought a j&j retinA .25% to see If it will help clear it up and keep it clear. However I have used it a few time and nothing Is happening no irritation no stinging no peeling nothing… It feels like applying lotion. Is it still working? Should I be feeling some form of reaction? How long before I should be able to tell of its working? Am tempted to go buy the 0.5%. Am also thinking of using a apple cider vinegar toner and do a lactic acid 50% peel. Please advise
    Thank you

    • Hi Fay,
      I am just working on a big post about hyerpigmentation, but I don’t want you to have to wait for an answer. I need a bit more info from you to better able to get right answers. Can you tell me about your skin tone- is it light or tends to be darker. Also did you get the Retin A by prescription or online. Look forward to hearing from you, Deb

      • Hi deb,
        I am of african descent but on the lighter side. I would say i have a midum brown complexion so my hyperpigmentation tends to be darker and really stands out! Like a mosquito bit me under my eye and I accidentally scrubed it and now I have a peas size spot left. I get these spots every month and to make matters worst the old ones don’t leave.
        I bought it at a pharmacy but without priscription. My husband looked at me this morning and asked what was going on with my face. Please I need some help.

        • So will the retina work to keep the spots under control over time ? What’s the difference between the glycolic peel and the lactic acid peel?
          Thank you

  124. Hi Deb! Hoping you can help me with some advice, I am desperate and depressed and crying daily because of the purging effects of Retin a. I am on 0.025% tretinoin cream for over 4 months now and the purging wont stop. In fact this the worst my acne has ever been in my life, and its all over my face and neck. I am white, with combination skin, and my acne was mild to moderate, always having a spot or two and worse around the time of my cycle. I have been using it it every other night for the past 3 months, working up to that gradually, but its so irrating that ive switched back to every third night. I am so sad, and cant leave my house and seriously want to quit the whole treatment. The scarring and redness and acne over that are just too much. I have expierenced little to no peeling what so ever, I’m thinking this might not be the product for me, but I keep reading to wait at least 6 months. Please help. Thanks.


    • Hi Alexa,
      I’m so sorry you have been going through this. Today most dermatologists don’t just use Retin A alone for acne. In the morning they recommend using benzoyl peroxide either alone or combined with clindimycin. Frequently they will aslo provide a prescription for oral antibiotics. You can ask your dermatologist to add these medications, but give it only another three months, but no longer. Current guidelines from the American Academy of Dermatology now recommend that this regimen be tried for 3 months. If it does not dramatically reduce acne problems in three months, you probably have hormonal acne that responds beautifully to estrogen therapy such as Ortho-Triciclin. Please let me know how you are doing.

      • Hi deb!
        Thank you so much for your quick response! I am allegeric to oral antibotics, is there a topical antibotic that you would reccomend? Also, my acne seemed to have increased on birthcontrol, I was actually on ortho, for over a year and thats when this all started. I decided to stop the birth control after I started the retin a. I’m just so confused. I really appricate you helping me and others, this is terrible and esteem destroying. I havent left the house in 3 months, except for work. I am truly devistated.

  125. Thank you for clarifying that hyaluronic acid and retin-a are ok.

    I am not using retin A, but I recently started using a retinol product (Neutrogena Healthy Skin Wrinkle Repair Night formula).

    For the last two months, I have been using Hydraluron (a serum that is really just hyaluronic acid), and then my nightly moisturizer. I do not know where the retinol product belongs.

    I am now confused about my routine. After cleansing, toning etc, should I do:

    hydraluron, retinol, wait 10 minutes, then moisturize?
    retinol, wait 10 minutes, hydraluron, moisturize?

    Thank you very much, looking forward to your response.

    • Most Retinol products like the Neutrogena one you are using can be used directly on the skin. They are not irritating, but far less effective. It can be used directly on freshly washed skin and aso act as a moisturizer so you don’t need Hydrauron and another moisturizer. Keep in mind that over moisturizing the skin is the leading caue of acne in women over 20. Retioids like true Retin A are available only with a prescription and usually need a moisturizer to control dryness. If you want to continue using the Neutrogena Healthy Skin, you can use it at night directly on the skin and you do not need additional moisturizers. In the daytime I suggest using a moisturizer with a 30SPF sunscreen.

  126. Hi

    I would like how long tretinoin 025% remain in the body. I have Been using this medication for 10 yrs . i have stopped using this medication now . I am planning for a baby but little scared as this ointment causes birth defects . How long should i wait. Please advise me .

    • Such an important question I am going to answer you now and in the blog as well. If you have only been using the topical tretinoin you don’t have to wait a single day. However if you used the oral form ( Accutane) or spironolactone, you need to wait six months before conceiving. Good luck!

  127. Hi! Thanks for all this fabulous information!

    I am hoping you can help with a Retin-A question. (Well, Retin-A and a bunch of other stuff!)

    I have a bunch of anti-aging products I’ve accumulated and I am trying to figure out how to use them to their maximum potential so I get the most benefit. I am nearly 40 and wanting to stave off the wrinkles as long as possible!

    So I bought of bunch of things that were all recommended to me by friends, but now that I have so many things, I don’t know which ones to use and when. (So silly, I know!)

    I have:
    Retin A .1 cream (prescription)
    Neostrata Smoothing Cream Level 3 (AHA)
    Neostrata Night Repair Cream (AHA)
    Dermalogica MAP-15 regenerator (stable vitamin C in powder form)
    Aveeno Positively Radiant moisturizer SPF 30

    So my question is… should I be using all these things and rotating them? Or should I just ditch some of them and stick with a simpler regimen? And which things can be layered on top of one another and which cannot?

    I’d really appreciate it if you could help me design a regimen that is effective and doesn’t undermine what I am trying to accomplish. 🙂 Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts. I love your blog!

    • Oh this is going to be fun. You have assembled an excellent group of products and now we will put them into a program:

      1. You are missing a cleanser so I would recommend something very mild when using Retiin A like Cetaphil Gentle cleanser.Use this at night and in the morning. At night take off your eye makeup with Alamy oil free pads for the eyes
      2. Start slowly with Retin A using it every other night and work your way up to every night.
      3. You aso need a well formulated moisturizer like CereVe which is packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
      4. In the morning top with Aveeno moisturizer with 30 SPF

      I LOVE alpha hydroxy acids so much I actually wrote a book about them that was published by St Martin’s Press….but when starting Retin A , they can cause unwanted inflammation. Same is true of vitamin C which in the right form is also one of my favorite anti-aging ingredients. Keep your great skin care choices dry and safe for the next six months while your skin gets used to Retin A. Then write me again and I’ll show you how to incorporate them into an even better routine. You’re off to a great start!

      • Hi Deb,
        Thanks for your reply! I will follow your advice, and have a look for your book too. I appreciate the guidance. 🙂

        • PS: I’ve already been using the Retin-A for awhile now, so will pester you sooner than six months from now for more information about how to incorporate those AHAs and Vitamin C! 🙂

      • Please clear up some confusion for me!

        My Retin A package says not to use the cream around my eyes. But right underneath my eyes is the place where I need the most help! The skin under my eyes is crosshatched and crepey looking and so that’s where I most want to put the Retin A! Is it really unsafe to put Retin A under the eyes? And if so, what else can I do for that under-eye skin? Thank you!!!!

        • Your package insert is absolutely right! You cannot use regular Retin A around the eyes. However when mixed with an anti-inflammatory steroid such as in the brand called Triluma, you can use it right where you need it. You need a prescription for it and its another $300, but it is the best topical for the crinkly bits under the eye. Use the regular RetinA on the nect of your face and neck– don’t forget the neck.

  128. Is retin a supposed to make your skin worse before it gets better? I am using it now and my face I horrible! I have only been using it for a week but I was curious if this was just the process. My face got way worse after using the retin a cream. Please help:)

    • When used for acne, Retin A does seem to make the skin worse when first used . To avoid this it should be used with two to tree other products. At night, you can layer clindimycin gel ( another prescription) with Retin A. In the morning layer benzoyl peroxide and clindimycin on the skin, topped with an oil-free physical sunscreen. Some doctors add oral antibiotics for three months. Avoid serums, moisturizers, scrubbing grains, toners, and masks. THis program works 85% of the time. If acne persists, you may have hormonal acne thats requires the use of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and/or spironolactone.

    • You are experiencing what is commonly called “the Purge”. To avoid this problem, ask your doctor to also prescribe a benzoyl peroxide cream and an antibiotic gel. You can use the Retin A and antibiotic at night and benzoyl peroxide in the AM.

  129. Hi,

    I have acne prone skin and I used to use Retinol and stopped using it. Now that my acne is worse my dermatologist recommended me to use Retinol every single night or whatever works best for my skin. Sometimes I use it every single night and when it gets flaky, I stop for a day and sometimes I put it on for a few hours and then take it off instead of leaving it on for the whole night. So sometimes I leave it on for one hour, sometimes two hours, sometimes 3 hours or sometimes overnight. Doing it only one hour or a couple hours a night, do I still get the benefits of using retinol? Or do I only benefit from retinol if I use it overnight? Sometimes I also apply an aloe vera hydrating mask before or after I use retinol to counter the flakiness, is that okay?

    I also use a gentle cleanser, a serum, a good moisturizer and sunscreen every morning. Please let me know what your thoughts and opinions are!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica,
      I love a complex question with a simple answers:
      1. I’m not sure what you have been using. Doctors prescribe retinoids aka Retin A for acne. Retinols are much much less effective and are used in traditional beauty products, rather than medical grade formulations. So if you can give me the name of the product you used, I will be able to give you a better answer.
      2. Lets assume that you ARE using the real thing– and we’ll talk about the best way to clear your skin. In the past year dermatologists have established a standard of care for acne and Retin A. However, it seems that some derms have not gotten the memo. Here’s the right way to use retinoids:
      * At night a cleanser for oily skin such as Acne Wash by Neutrogena. Wait 20 minutes after wasing skin to apply a pea size dab of Retin A all over the face. Start by using Retin A only every other day and work up to every night. On the nights you don’t use Retin A, apply benzoyl peroxide cream. Don’t use them together on the same night.
      * In the morning, apply an antibiotic cream like clindimycin ( with a prescription) and then top with a oil free sunscreen like Physical Defense from SkinCeuticals.
      * Stop using all other products including serums, moisturizers, scrubbing grains, toners, even washcloths. Retin A is powerful and you want it to be able to do its job without interference and irritations from other products. Your serum and moisturizer may be triggering more acne.

      One final thought: When using Retin A for anti-aging, to avoid excessive dryness some doctors recommend applying it for several hours, then rinsing it off. Its works well, especially in cold windy weather. When i comes to acne care, you probably need to keep it on over night. If your skin is too irritated, use it every other night. Please let me know what form of retiinoid you are using.

  130. I’m using Retin A Micro 0.1% in the pump, mfr Johnson & Johnson. I use it for acne, specifically for whiteheads and blackhead. I have some questions about its use, particularly as I live in an extremely dry climate (humidity today is 10%!).

    1. How clean should the skin be before applying the Retin A? This may seem like a silly question but depending on what one uses to wash one’s face, the skin could be anywhere from squeaky clean (stripped of all surface oil) to gently clean (with a remaining film of natural oil or even residual moisturizer from the cleanser)

    2. How important is it to wait before applying the Retin A? In this climate skin dries very quickly but I suppose I should still wait around 5 minutes.

    3. How long must the Retin A remain on the skin to be effective? I understand that Retin A Micro is time release but I don’t like to leave it on more than a couple of hours. Even though I don’t apply it around my eyes, I start to get eye irritation after a few hours. Am I losing a lot of the benefit? By the way, this also means that I must apply it during the day, not at night. I’m careful only to use it on days when I can remain indoors during the entire time.

    4. The directions with the pump dispenser are to use 2 full depressions of the pump but this results in way too much product at one time and in this dry climate I can’t get it spread before it dries out. Any ideas about whether doing lots of little pumps rather than two full pumps will interfere with the workings of the dispenser over time or cause it eventually to clog up?

    5. Any ideas about how best to use the product with mixed skin i.e oily nose and center forhead and chin, dry everywhere else. I’ve mostly been avoiding the dry areas entirely but perhaps some regimen would work for those areas too.

    • All good questions. For the most complete answers, you can download my free guide to Retin A if you like my No-Nonsense Facebook page. If you need additional info, I’m here to help.

    • Yikes, if you are wearing it under make-up then it means you are wearing it during the day. THat’s a big no-no. Retin A makes your skin much more sensitive to the sun. If you wear it during the day you increase risk of both irritation and skin cancer. Retin A is meant to be worn at night. In the daytime, you still need extra protection so make sure that your make-up has a good sunscreen. Look for a 30SPF in a shade that suits your skin tones.

  131. First day after using tretinoin, I have dermatitis and I have a little flare up but it was expected. Do u think my skin will get used to the retin a? And do u think its ok to use coconut oil as my moisturizer over the retin a to help sooth the irritation?

    Thanks so much!

    • If you are using Retin A for acne then I would try a bit ot Te Tree oil rahter than coconut oil to relieve dryness. If you are using it for anti-aging, then coconut oil could work well. To avoid irritation start using Retin A every other night and wait thirty minutes after washing your face to apply Retin A.

      • Thanks so much for your response! I think I’m going to have to wait until my dermatitis flare up goes away before I re apply again. Just until my skin gets used to it. It’s been four days and my skin is still pretty aggravated.

  132. Hello I’m going to be starting a skin care regiment
    for day
    wash my face with cetaphil then apply hydroquinone 4% cream then sun screen and my makeup
    cetaphil then retin A .1% gel then cereve cream
    Does this sound ok??
    Is once a day good enough for hydroquinone?

  133. Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.

    Wheen I look at your blog in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet
    Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a
    quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

      • have been using Retin A for 5 months now. I use 0.025, three times a week..
        I alternate with Vitamin C and dermastamping / dermarolling. I also use Nuface sometimes in the morning..

        I can see that I have some dark patches on my forehead. Could it be the Retin A, even when I am using 50+ sunscreen? I don’t stay out in the sun much…but then I do go to the shop to get stuff, maybe a short 10 minute walk. Am I getting sensitive towards the sun and do I have to wear a hat even with 50+ sunscreen to walk 10 minutes?? Thank you appreciate your answers…

  134. Hi, I am using Ratin A for 6 weeks and recently my Face become so red and it also make some spots.What should i do my skin is Looking horrible .Please let me know

    • Stop using Retin A for a week. when your skin is no longer bright red, sart using Retin A again, but only twice a week, gradually working up to 5-7 times a week. For the best way to cleanse, moisturize and protect Retin A treated skin, dowload my free gyide to Retin A. Just Go to No-Nonsense Beauty Blog on Facebook, like my site and down load a free five page guide. Let me know How things are going.

  135. I have been using Retin a 0.025 for about 5 months now…I am not experiencing any irritation or peeling…only some dryness…I use it 3 times a week…I alternate with Vitamin C and I am doing needling too. I alternate everything. I am mostly concerned about some lines on my forehead. I can say they have dimished a lot…but I can see some dark spots…I am not sure where they are coming from…they are forming into patches and I am worried. I use 50+ sunscreen from la roche posay and I like it so much…it is a bit tinted. I am not out in the sun much…sometimes when I go to the shop or walk around briefly…am I still exposed to sun that way and shall I stop the RetinA altogether?? Do you think I have become sensitive to the sun? Do I have to wear a hat at all times when using retin A even tho I am using 50+ sunscreen? Or is it the dermarolling / dermstamping that is producing these patches? Please help.

    • Since I have not seen your skin, either before or after using Retin A, its hard for me to comment on effect of Retin A on lines and dark patches. I am not a big fan ofderm rolling/ needling, so I really can’t offer much help in that area. Retin A does makes skin more sensitive to the sun but wearing a hat and a 50+sunscreen in bright sun is certainly using the right protection.

      • OK thank you so much Deb. I am wearing a good zinc oxide sunscreen. something is causing this pigmentation so I have to find out what it is…

        • I checked with some of my experts and found out tht derm rolling IS linked to pigmentation. Its an aault on the skin and all types of injury can cause darkening in the skin. I would eliminate this step in your skin cae routine.

          • Deb, I cant thank you enough for checking. I know many people have seen fantastic results with dermarolling, but I am thinking its maybe they are older and their skin is not in good shape. I can vouch that my skin is in good shape, what I am trying to eliminate is the wrinkles of my forehead. I tried dermastamping first, JUST on the wrinkles. and I can say that they have diminished. BUT when I started using a roller, where you ROLL the whole forehead, I think that’s where the trouble started. And since I only use these techniques on my forehead, and not on the rest of my face, cheekbones etc…I realized that something is wrong. I use Retin A every 3 day and I wear a very good sunscreen, and I haven’t noticed ANY pigmentation on my cheeks or anywhere else.
            I also noticed that using Nuface on my forehead kind of BURNS my skin a bit and when I use it I see that the patches get red, and eventually they get darker too! Gosh we really have to be careful with our skin, we try to correct one thing and make it look worse.

            I currently use Retin A but only every third day, and its 0.025. Last week I started using 0.05 ONLY on my forehead, and use 0.025 on the rest of my face.

            I use a Vitamin C Serum everyday in the morning. and a 30% pumpkin peel every three weeks.

            I wash my face with Toleraine La Roche Posay gentle cleanser (I tried other brands they dry my skin out) and sometimes I also use the oil cleansing method to avoid dryness. Every other day I use a microfiber cloth.

            I feel that I need to add more nutrients for my skin, like DMAE? and collagen? Any opinions?
            Thanks Deb and you have been great, I love reading your tips, and everyday I learn something new, especially about Retin A.

            One more question re Retin A… can I stay JUST using it every third day or do I need to keep going up to every other day or every day to see am A-HA moment 🙂 ?

  136. hi there,

    in stead of using a moisturizer after I apply my retin a cream ( .5%), is it ok to use a face oil instead of moisturizer?

    • If you are currently using it and it keeps your skin from getting too dry and irritated, You can keep using it. If your skin is still irritated or experiencing breakouts, then I would switch to a moisturizer

  137. Hi Deb!
    I use the recommended pea-sized amount of Retin-A about 2-3 times a week. My question is since it is such a small application amount and not used daily, how long after the expiration date on the crimp can I use it for? I know I’ll still have a good amount of the product left in the tube once the Retin-A reaches its expiration, and I certainly don’t want to discard it. Thank you so much!

    • I have been told that you can use it for six months to a year after it has opened. However if it starts to smell differently, throw it out immediately. That happened to me and I had to throw out about $100 worth of Retin A.

    • Also could yu send a photo of your face which has been affected by steroids. I won’t post it, but I would like to show it to a doctor.

  138. Please suggest me something to thicken my steroidsd induced atrophied facial skin. I used clobetasol propionate for 7 years as I was unaware about it’s side effects.

      • Thanks deb for reply.
        Please send me your email id so that I can send you the pics.
        My skin is Extremely thin and sagged. And i have observed changes in my face contour .it appears that all subcutaneous fat has come down and accumulated near eyes have become sunken.Of late I have started applying Nexret (tretinoin 0.04%) and emu oil .i am 26 yo but looks as if 40. Suggest me something to reverse it.
        Sorry for such longish reply.

  139. Hi Deb, thank you for writing such a gd post for Retin A.
    I am 29 years old Asian, stay in hot weather all year long.
    I have troubled skin since 12 years old. My skin condition now is oily underneath, but skin surcafe can be dry. My problem now is I always have closed comedoes on my face, especially along the jawline. I need to go facial monthly, to get rid of these closed comedoes as I dont know hw to exteact it on my own. If these closed comedoes not extracted, it will eventually grow into big acne.
    I am using AHA 8% lotion in the morning and tretinoin 0.01% ( prescribed by doctor) in the evening.
    My skincare routine as followed

    Morning – cleanser ( cetaphil gentle cleanser)- toner – AHA 8%- vit C essence- moisture gel cream- sunblock- bb cream – foundation

    Evening – cleanser (Paula choice one step cleanser) -toner- Stieva A Tretinion 0.01% – hada labo hyaluronic acid essence- moisture gel cream.

    Is that something wrong with my skincare regime that cause me to always get closed comedoes? I have started AHA and tretinoin 0.01% for about 6 weeks.
    Beside can you recommend any good makeup remover, moisturiser and pimple cream that is suitable to my skin types?
    Sorry for the long post. I have spent lots of time and money but still couldnt get clear skin, hope to have your advice. Thank you.

    • Retin A helps the skin shed the top layer of dead dry skin cells that pile up on the surface clogging the pores. The flakiness that you see is actually this dead dry skin that should be removed. I would get a complexion brush like Clarisonic and use it once a week to take of this layer.( You can find far less expensive versions in drugstores). I recommend using Neutrogena Acne wash or CereVe Foaming Cleanser to wash the face, a hyaluronic acid serum gel, not cream to moisturize the skin and an oil free sunscreen like Healthy Defense from Neutrogena. I would eliminte all AHA products because they can cause irritation when used with Retin A.
      I also think that your blocked pores and breakouts can be due to the large number of products that you use in the morning. I would eliminate the toner, AHAvitamin C essense, moisture gel, BB cream and BB cream. In the morning you need to use just the right cleanser, oil free sunscreen and foundation. I like to cut that back even further and use a foundation with a sunscreen. THe less you use on your skin, the lower the chances you will trigger breakouts.

  140. I want to know what happens if you use it for a long time then you stop using it, does your face just fall apart to the age it really is , like is this a product you have to take for life and any stopping of it will result in wrinkles, lines etc returning

    • Your skin does not start to disintegrate if you stop, but the natural forces of aging will reappear The collagen that you developed from Retin A will become damaged and the dark spots of discoloration from the sun will come back from more UV exposure. In other words there is nothing to slow or reverse natural aging.

  141. Hi Deb, I just seen the answer you given above, re skin disintegrating when we stop use Retin A. Since we need to stop using it for summer…say for about three months…shall we also get reverse effects..meaning our skin will go back to how it originally was before Retin A? Will three months reverse everything?

    Right now I am using 0.05 every other day and no peeling nothing (which makes me worry whether it is doing anything to me 🙁


  142. Hi, I hope you are still responding to questions. I have been using Atralin .05% Gel, and I just have a few questions. First of all, I am very oily. I have been trying to manage my timing with application/moisturizing at night. After I wash my face, I wait about 30-45 minutes until I apply the Atralin. Then I attempt to wait at least 30-45 minutes before moisturizing with CeraVe lotion, but I usually fall asleep before I can do that. Is it really bad to skip moisturizing at night after applying Atralin? I wake up pretty oily and I have not been dry or flaky at all.

    Also, I have not been noticing major results of clearing of acne for awhile. I have a few stubborn seedy, underneath-the-skin blackheads that will just not budge. I’ve also been getting a few cystic ones here & there. It’s been about half a year since I’ve been experimenting with Retin-A cream & gel…. I switched over to the Gel form about 3 months in. I’m just starting to feel a little disappointed since it’s been half a year and I’m still experiencing acne. What do you suggest? Should I try for a higher dose? Or is it my lack of moisturizing at night that is keeping me from seeing better results?


    • If your skin is oily you do not need moisturizers and that mat be why you are not seeing an improvement. I suggest getting a glycolic peel to jump start acne are. You will need to stop Atralin two days beforehand three days after the peel. These days the standard treatment with Retin a also includes using benzoyl peroxide in the morning and layer on an antibiotic with the nighttime Retin a. You are not using the full range of medications needed to deal with persistent acne.

  143. I recently started using 0.05% every night, its my first time using it. How long does it take for me to notice some changes to my skin? If i use it every other night, can i use my benzoyl peroxide cream in between?

    • If you skin is not too dry or flaky you can alternate with benzoyl peroxide. If yor skin is especially oily you an use retin every night and benzoyl peroxide every morning. It can take three months for a retin a program to work– and it might get worse before it gets better. If this happens you might want to add an antibiotic gel to be used at night with the retin a.

  144. Hi,

    I am 48, from india and already past menopause. My elbows have got pigmented and look dark and dirty as it I don’t clean them. Please help!

    Thanks in advance

    • This is a common problem and I have reached out to several experts for the best answer. In addition to the best treatment, I will find out the best way to wash the elbows and prevent more pigmentation. We’ll find the answer together.

  145. Dear Mrs. Deb,
    I’m nearly 19 now and have used retin-a for 6 months. Reading through the comments, I recognise that you recommend oily skin should not be layered with so many products. However, using retin a causes my oily skin dry patches, so i use toner, vitamin c serum, rosehip oil and la roche posay moisturiser. I wonder if it is too much and if I should eliminate anything. As both vit c and rosehip oil help to reduce hyperpicmentation, I really dont want to eliminate any of them. One more problem is I’m only 19 and use retina to clear my acne. Is it too soon for me to use it for a long time and even when my acnes are gone, should I continue to use it? Thanks so much for your help.

    • IMO you are using too many products which actually interfere with each other. For a complete guide to acne care you can download my guide to acne when you subscribe to the blog. You should not use vitamin c with retin a (and you don’t need it.) and any oil and moisturizers will clog your pores.

  146. I have retin A Cream 0.05%. I have for many years suffered with melasma on my forehead, temples, cheeks, upper lip & chin. I manage it well by wearing suncream factor 70+ all year around & a hat in the sunshine when possible or appropriate. My question is should I apply retin A only on the areas that have melasma or apply to the whole face? How often would you recommend using it, I’m 35 nearly 36. Also I have had this tube of Retin A maybe 1 year & have been told it’s safe to still use but the strength may not be as strong, is this correct. Is it safe to still use?

    • The Retin A should still be fine use. Take a pea sized portion of Retin A and dab it on your forehead cheeks and chin. Rub it into the skin. If if have a light skin complexion,you can also try light therapy with IPL such as Forever Beautiful laser. This will break up patches of melasma almost immediately. However it cannot be used on skin of color where it might actually make pigmentation worse.
      Another option would be Triluma which combines Retin A and hydroquinone. Let me know how things workout. Best, deb

      • Thanks for your reply. I have an olive skin tone & if I could put my face in the sun would go brown very quickly, but sadly that’s not an option with melasma. I have to go careful even when using fade out cream or bleaching creams as it can go patchy upto the rest of my skin. How often should I use retin A? Do I put moisturiser on afterwards?

      • So i need clarification, you say “Take a pea sized portion of Retin A and dab it on your forehead cheeks and chin. Rub it into the skin” do you mean rub all over my face or just the areas that are darker?

  147. hello,

    i’ve been using Retin-A 0.025 for about 3 weeks now and i have been experiencing very red face, my skin feel like a rougher, but i’m keeping a positive mind-set and telling my self it’ll all get better. I’m 25 years old and i never really had teenage acne before. I have very very very large pores and oily skin and my face is not experiencing a lot of flakiness or peeling since my face is SO oily by nature. My question, i have wedding in mexico in a resort in about 3 weeks or so and although i will be wearing sunscreen i can’t hide from the sun since i payed for this trip.

    a) reduce my intake from 1 time every night to 3 times a week
    b) stop usage two weeks before i do (and will this make me break out)
    3) just keep going and just use sunscreen

    also, if i have a sunburn in mexico do i keep using it or do i just stop completely


    • I would definitely cut back to 3x a week and make certain you wash your face with a very mild cleanser like Cetaphil. I would ask your dermatologist to prescribe a clindimycin cream to deal with acne without more irritation. I am concerned that the strong sun in Mexico will make your skin extremely sensitive since retin A i

      • Sorry. Reply went without me. I would stop using retin A a week before you go to Mexico and use a sunscreen with a 50 SPF. You can use clindimycin in sunny weather without fear of increased sensitivity.

        • thanks for the quick reply,

          my biggest concern is : will i break out if i stop the treatement a week before and week while in mexico (thus two week total)

          also, can i use benzoyl peroxide 5% instead ?

          booking an appointement with my dermotologist is almost impossible 3 weeks before leaving to mexico with all the summer vacations.

          why is clindamycin a good option?

          also please note that i have very dark skin by nature, i have never gotten a sun burn, so all this sunscreen usage is very knew to me. ( i know it’s a horrible habit)

  148. Hi

    I have bad dark circles along with blemishes. My skin is fair and is oily in nature. Just wanted to know if i can also start with Retin A. Will it exfoliate my skin? For how long it needs to be used? And do i need to use with a moisturizer? Also any side effects if it will have?

    • I would use a combination product of retin A, hydroquinone and a corticone under the eyes. For the blemishes, I would start with a mild glycolic peel. Then would use a traditional treatment of benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic gel and use a salicylic acid wash to cleanse your skin. I would definately use a non-oily sunscreen but not a moisturizer. A moisturizer will only make oily skin worse. Let me know how things work out.

  149. I have used Renova or Refissa for 20 yrs daily. My skin has never shown any dryness or redness. I am considering microdermabrasion and wonder if this will work with the daily use of Refissa. I would appreciate any advise on using these together.

    • If you have used Retin A for twenty years without problems, cranking things up with microdermabrasion will be a very good move. You can start with using a brush like device with a creamy soap and work your way up to textured exfoliation with scrubbing grains. Just to be safe the first time, I would avoid Retin A 24 hours before the microdermabrasion.

  150. ,.hi…I’m Joan…I’ve been using tretenoin gel and benzoyl alternately for
    A month seems to be fine…but for the 2 sessions of acne surgery that I have gone while using the prescribed medicines there were outbreaks…I am planning to take facial,do you think is it okay?…tnx

    • Rather than a full facial that include lotions and massage, I would ask you dermatologist about a glycolic will need to avoid retin a for two days before and after the peel, but it will speed up acne control and reduce scarring. I am concerned that a traditional facial could trigger more acne. Let me know how things work,out.

  151. Hi Thanks for all of your help answering questions! I have two: I was told to use Aczone twice a day, but was recently prescribed Triluma for my night time regime. Can I still use Aczone also, before I use the Triluma?
    Also, I heard that a microneedle (1.0mm) can be used with either product or both to improve effectiveness and skin penetration. Do you have any thoughts about use of microneedle with either of these products.
    Thank you for your time!

  152. Hi,
    I have been using retinol 1% for 5 months now and I find my skin is very dry. My friend has recommended Elizabeth Arden Ceramide capsules, is this ok to use after applying the retinol each night?

  153. I just started using hydroquinone 4% for my Melasma. I was also prescribed Retin-A micropump .08 to go with it. The pharmacist says that is pretty high. Up to this point I have been using the Arcona line as well as the Pixi Treat Glycolic (20%) pads from Target. I am 40 years old so my concerns are that of a normal 40 year old who has dryer skin, discoloration/sun spots as well as fine lines and wrinkles. I did get an IPL treatment 10 days ago. Please advise if you are familiar with everything I mentioned above. I appreciate the help.

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