Answer: I’ve received this type of comment so frequently I think it deserves a post of its own. Mixing Retin A ( aka tretinoin) with a moisturizer immediately reduces its concentration and impast on the skin. If you take a pea size dab of .04% tretinoin with an equal dab of moisturizer, the concentration is now .02%– lower than any other prescription grade tretinoin. If there is more moisturizer than tretinoin, then the concentration is even lower and the action on the skin will be very limited. Then there is the issue of cost. Retin A Micro .04% runs about $300/tube. If you dilute it to .02% you will get more for your beauty dollar if you buy .1% Retinol from Skinceuticals which clocks in at $100.
There are tried and true methods of reducing risk of redness and flaking with tretinoin products. Start by choosing a mild cleanser like Cetaphil and wait at least 30 minutes between washing your face and applying tretinoin. Ease into a tretinoin regimen by applying it every other night for several weeks gradually working up to an every night routinue. If redness develops, stick with using it only three times a week. Make sure you avoid other products that could cause irritation including microdermabrasion, glycolic acid peels, exfoliating pads or grains and alcohol based toners. At night use a moisturizer like CerVe PM ( which is brimming with ceramides and hyaluronic acid) over tretinoin to prevent irritation. Commit to using at least a 30SPF sunscreen each and every morning. Tretinoin increases sensitivity to the sun and you can get red and flaky even from sunlight through a window. It will take at least six weeks to produce a noticable difference. Don’t be impatient and stick with the program. I believe that tretinoin is the foundation of a stong anti-aging plan. What ever else you do, tretinoin will supply a daily boost to skin cell growth that refines the surface and boosts collagen production- all good things.
One final thought. I also hear from women who apply their tretinoin OVER a moisturizer. Please don’t do that. Tretinoin is one of a handful of ingredients that can actually pass throught he layers of the skin to provide real benefits to the lower, living layer of the skin. Applying a moisturizer just blocks access to the skin and inhibits all the good that tretinoin can do.