Can I Use Shea Butter with Retin A? by Deb Chase

Question and answer logoQuestion– I am   a twenty year old African Americn woman with very sensitive skin.   I have hormonal acne and  I am hoping that Retin A will stop the breakouts.   However I’m breaking out more and my skin is very dry, flaky and sore.  I’ve been using shea butter over  Retin A at night.  In the morning I use   Neutrogena sunscreen.  Any  help would be appreciated.

Answer– Dryness is part of Retin A treatment and the flaking is a sign that the skin is getting rid of  dead skin that is blocking the pores.  However I am concerned with the  sense of  irritation you are experiencing.  Retin A needs to be used very very carefully  with skin of color.  The inflammtion from Retin A can  unfortunately  trigger hyperpigmentation or darkened areas on  darker skin tones.  To avoid  problems I can recommend two options:

Option 1— You can stop using Retin A for a week then start using it again  , but twice a week, not every night.  After two weeks if the skin seems comfortable, you can  step up to three times a week.  I would stay at that level and  not go to on to an every  night regimen.  I would also stop using shea butter which can clog the pores.  To relieve dryness I recommend using an oil-free “smart moisturizer” with hyaluronic acid like  Derma e Hyaluronic Acid Rehydrating Serum.   I call this a smart  moisturizer because it supplies a natural moisturizing factor  in our skin, rather than  an oil that can trigger more breakouts.  To prevent the dreaded  purge I would also ask your dermatologist for a combintion benzoyl peroxide/clindimycin  gel to  be used in the morning under the oil free sunscreen.

Option 2 — If you have hormonal acne, I would ask your dermatologist about esrogen therapy such as Ortho TriCyclen. If the acne is triggered by hormonal imbalance,  its going to be very difficult for any topical therapy to make a difference.  Frequently,  doctors  combine hormone therapy with an oral form of Retin A such as Sotret or  Claravis.   This will give you the benefits of Retin A without  the risks of deveoping irregulr pigmentation.

Retin A and Shea Butter

One final thought– I am a huge shea butter fan. Its soothing, natural and makes dry skin  glow.  If you have dry skin and  are using Retin A for its anti-aging benefits, shea butter can  calm down flaky, parched skin.  However if you are using Retin A  for acne, shea butter is too rich and heavy.

3 thoughts on “Can I Use Shea Butter with Retin A? by Deb Chase

  1. Though I’m quite fair I struggled for a long time tinkering with retin-a. The only thing that worked was using jojoba oil. Just one drop is enough dabbed on my entire face but it made all the difference. I dab the pea sized amount of retin-a around and that use the jojoba over to work it in. I wait at least 20 minutes and then use a good basic moisturizer. But I went from being so dry and flakey to getting things under control but the retin-a still seems to do the job.

  2. One other thing. Deb had a post a few months ago about using ceramides with retin-a. When I wash my face with cereve I then apply the ceramides and wait at least the 20 minutes before applying retin-a.

  3. I use vitamin A in the form of Differing for both my acne and to combat skin aging. So far I haven’t experienced much dryness. But if I ever get any dry patches I’ll keep shea butter in mind and just apply it locally.

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