Skin Care Tips for Tretinoin (Retin-A): Find It Again Friday

Do you use tretinoin in your skin care regimen?

Everyone needs a refresher on their skin care regimen for the New Year, especially when using powerful prescription products. For this week’s “Find It Again Friday,” we are focusing on Dr. Cynthia Bailey’s tips that Retin-A users should consider incorporating into their skin care routine if they are not already. For a more in-depth review of skin care regimen for tretinoin products, check Dr. Bailey’s original post: 5 Skin Care Tips for Retin-A Users.

What are the top 5 skin care tips for tretinoin (Retin-A)?

1. Apply tretinoin at night

Tretinoin is light sensitive, so use it only during your nighttime skin care regimen. Be sure to wash it off entirely the next morning.

2. Avoid ingredients that interfere with tretinoin

Glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and vitamin C do not mix with tretinoin. Apply products that interfere with tretinoin in the morning after the tretinoin has been washed off.

3. Dry your skin completely before applying tretinoin

This will minimize tretinoin-induced skin irritation. When applying moisturizers, allow 15 minutes between your moisturizer application or other skin care products before your tretinoin application.

4. Use sunscreen daily

Tretinoin makes your skin more light sensitive, especially to UV rays. Broad spectrum sunscreens with physical blockers, such as zinc oxide, are best.

Dr. Bailey has compiled a sunscreen comparison chart to help you choose the sunscreen best suited for your skin type and other needs.

5. Build your skin to the highest tretinoin level it will tolerate

The higher the level of tretinoin, the more benefits you will get from this powerful anti-aging agent. However, you will have to start with the lowest level and “train” your skin to tolerate the higher levels. Otherwise you may experience irritation, discomfort, or even a chemical burn. Dr. Bailey provides more details in her blog post: How to Correctly Use Tretinoin.


If you have found these tretinoin tips helpful, please show your thanks by commenting on, sharing, “liking,” tweeting, “pinning,” and Google +1 this blog post with friends and family. 

Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team

Photo attribution: Thanks and gratitude to © Doable/amanaimages/Corbis


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13 Responses to “Skin Care Tips for Tretinoin (Retin-A): Find It Again Friday”

  1. Rhonda1234 January 4, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    I am trying this!! My skin has finally started showing its age!
    Thank you for sharing, Kathysue.

  2. Suzanne Gilbert January 4, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    These tips are great reminders. I have been using tretinoin with Topix CF for several years. My houston dermatologist recommends it also.

  3. Jason Ellis January 4, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    What do you mean by #5 – the highest level your skin can tolerate? Have you posted a gradual training regimen for people who are new to using tretinoin and need to ease their way into higher doses?

  4. Lauren Noel January 5, 2014 at 6:37 am #

    What about Renova? I have rosacea- severe flushing type not acne- and my dermatologist suggested I try Renova. I know it’s a type of tretinoin …will it work just as well for anti aging, etc?

  5. Cynthia Bailey January 5, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I use either in my practice. They both work and Renova is often easier to tolerate. In my observation the original tretinoin formula of Retin A works just a little better but many sensitive skin types, such as rosacea patients, can’t tolerate the original.

  6. Cynthia Bailey January 5, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    This is the post. Since this is a prescription medicine the participation in that decision must be made by the patient and the prescribing physician.

  7. Caroline Oliveira January 11, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    One question I always had was does the tretinoin loses some potency (like a concentration 0.5 works like a 0.25) if you apply over some other product (serum, moisturizer, facial oil)?
    Also, does products with vitamin A interfere with tretinoin? (Sorry for the bad english, not my first language)

  8. Rae January 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi Dr. Bailey, I was wondering what you meant by ‘interfere’.

    Do those ingredients listed above deactivate or affect the absorption of tretinoin?

    What I initially thought was, they were not supposed to be used simultaneously because combining or layering them will already be too irritating or drying.

  9. Mona January 13, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    Would you recommend to use the tretinoin cream all year round, or do you recommend to take a break during the summer season? I use sun protection spf 50 every day.

  10. Evie Dawson January 13, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks for the post.. I am glad I found your post. Tretinoin plays an important role in my life and this information made my day. :)

  11. Alice Kurk January 31, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    Dear Dr.Bailey,
    They dont sale Retin A on my country so can I use Locacid instead? I dont have much acne so I only care ’bout the anti-aging. Thank you so much for the information!

  12. Alison February 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I was recently prescribed this for acne and it seems to be working.

    I believe the product labeling says to use twice a day? Why not use in the morning if you plan to be in doors?

    Also, I’ve been using moisturizer a few minutes after rentin a. Is that not correct?

  13. Cynthia Bailey March 1, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Alison, I have written a detailed post on how to use Retin A that includes my use recommendations for the patients in my dermatology practice. It is not a medicine for use in the day as it breaks down on contact with light. I also have people put moisturizer on right after washing, as that’s how moisturizer works best. They then wait the 15-30 minutes and apply the RA. It is a prescription medicine so the prescribing doctor is responsible for use instructions. This is just my info for how I use it in my practice. I provide it for readers who can use it to discuss with their prescribing doctor who ultimately is the one responsible to guide appropriate use of any medicine they prescribe.