Can Women of Color Use Retin A?

I get frequent questions from Asian and Latina readers who are interested in using Retin A , but are concerned about the side effects.  On one hand Retin A has the ability to lighten  dark patches  and make  the skin look fresher and brighter.  On the other hand Retin A can be very irritating– and deeper skin tones tend to develop darkened areas when inflamed.

There’s a boatload of conflicting advice about the topic and I needed  an expert to provide answers.  Asking my colleagues  in beauty for the best source of information, I was referred to the noted Chicago-based cosmetic surgeon, Dr Seven Dayan.  In addition to seeing patients, Dr Dayan is the founder of DeNova Research, a center that  has extensive experience studying skin care in women of color.  According to Dr Dayan, Latina, Asian and African American women  need to use Retin A very very cautiously. ” To avoid problems I recommend a very mild form of Retin A ( such as Renova) and use it only every three days.  In addition , when using even Renova it is important to avoid products  that can be irritating such as exfoliating grains and brushes”

Retin A is just one of the anti-aging tools that need to be used carefully by women of color.  Lasers, IPL even  gentle gylcolic peels can cause needless problems like melasma  and I’ll be talking more with Dr Dayan to  learn the safest and most up- to-date information on this often undercovered topic.  For more information about Dr Dayan and his ongoing research studies go to

3 thoughts on “Can Women of Color Use Retin A?

  1. I never thought of myself as a woman of color until I developed Melasma after using retin A. I am italian and have very olive skin that I used to tan til you could not tell what nationality I was. I only did that kind of sun tanning for a few years and I realized what damage I was doing. I tried to reverse what would soon be very apparent sun damage (I was 34 at the time) and within a month I had a mustache.
    Be careful, olive skinned/dark skinned people.

    • WHat an important comment! Olive skinned women like Eva Longoria or Sophia Loren are definately vulnerable to melasma and can react badly to Retin A if the skin is unprotected from the sun. Glycolic peels and Tri-luma can help you fade the “mustache. However you should be careful with lasers or IPL which can trigger pigmenttion irregularities. And wear a 30-50 SPF sunscreen every day.

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