Should Anti-aging Skin Care Treatments Be Combined?

Cynthia Bailey, MD|June 1, 2012

Ask Dermatologist Dr. BaileyDear Dr Bailey, I am 63 years of age and, upon advisement of my aesthetician, I learned that I should use both a 5% glycolic acid cream and a "retinol plus" product for age-intervention skin care. I began the retinol three months before she prescribed the glycolic. This is a little bit of worry issue for me. Although, I have trusted her for many years, this combination causes me to worry about over-application of harsh products to my skin. I personally chose to discontinued the retinol plus and began just the 5% glycolic acid product. Within three days, the results were amazing. So, please advise me, should I use one in the daytime and the other at night or just continue with the glycolic with these wonderful results? Your advice would be very helpful. Grace Y.   Hello Grace, I have many patients who very successfully combine daytime use of professional strength glycolic acid home products (10% or higher) with a nighttime application of prescription tretinoin (the gold standard retinoid and not the same as retinol in over-the-counter products). That said, I have even more patients whose skin will not tolerate this combination, as it can be very irritating. This combination of products is potentially harsh. People with sensitive skin may be well served by having this skin care routine supervised by a professional. That's because irritation of the skin can lead to permanent skin discoloration called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is especially a problem in darker skin types (type 4 or darker, which includes people of Asian, Hispanic, Southern Mediterranean and African descent). Irritation can also lead to permanent skin redness called post-inflammatory erythema. It is also important to know that use of either of these great ant-aging ingredients will cause skin to be more sun sensitive and prone to sun damage. This means that it is a must to wear a trustworthy broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more every day. Wearing daily sunscreen goes a long way on its own for anti-aging skin care, so it's a win-win. My sunscreen preference is mineral zinc oxide and this year we are seeing a great range of new products hitting the market. I have sunscreens for every skin type, budget and product preference on my site and I'm thrilled that now everyone can find the perfect sunscreen for their needs. I hope that I have given you a lot to think about and discuss with your aesthetician. I have written previous posts with even more detailed information that might help you fill in the gaps and figure out how to best create the perfect anti-aging skin care routine for your skin. You can check them out below.

Check out my favorite, dermatologist-recommended mineral zinc oxide sunscreens.

  EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

Read more about the anti-aging benefits of glycolic acid.

See my dermatologist-recommended, professional-strength glycolic acid face creams and lotions.

glytone face cream 2 Find out why I'm such a fan of tretinoin (Retin A) for anti-aging skin care.

Learn how I instruct my patients to combine glycolic and tretinoin for anti-aging skin care.

I hope that helps.

Warm Regards,

Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist

If you have questions about skin care or skin health, please send them to me using the Contact Dr. Bailey button at the top of the page.

Disclaimer: Please realize that availing yourself of the opportunity to submit and receive answers to your questions from Dr. Bailey does not confer a doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Bailey. The information provided by Dr. Bailey is general health information inspired by your question. It should not be a substitute for obtaining medical advice from your physician and is not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical problem (and is not an extension of the care Dr. Bailey has provided in her office for existing patients of her practice). Never ignore your own doctor’s advice because of something you read here; this information is for general informational purpose only.

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