Retinoids: There is a Right Way to use them

anti-agingMany of our patients receive a prescription for retinoids. This may be because they are struggling with hard-to-treat acne, or because the time has come to start combating the signs of aging. Whatever the reason for retinoid use, there are benefits. There can also be pitfalls, such as redness and flaking. We want to give you every opportunity to avoid them, so we offer a few tips on how to use retinoids the right way.

  1. Less is more. Remember that prescription retinoids are powerful. You may be anxious to see gain all the benefits you can, but applying too much too soon tends to only lead to frustration. Give your skin time to adjust. For the first few weeks, apply a pea-sized amount to your entire face. Do this only every three days. As you see how your skin responds, increase frequency, but not the amount.
  2. Unless you have been told otherwise, stop using all other acne and anti-aging products while you introduce your prescription retinoid into your skin care routine. Ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can already disrupt your cells (in a great way). The result could be exacerbated when these ingredients are combined with retinoids.
  3. Wash, then wait. When you wash your face, the natural protective barrier is disturbed. If you apply retinoid lotion or gel immediately after washing, your skin may become irritated. The best practice is to wait about 20 minutes in between washing and applying your product. This can also ensure that your face is completely dry, another necessary component to success.
  4. Apply your retinoid, then wait. Wait for what? Your moisturizer! The process may take some time, but it doesn’t stretch out all night long, we promise. Waiting just another 20 minutes to add moisturizer to your skin means that your retinoid has some time alone to do its work. Applying moisturizer after the appropriate time mitigates the natural drying effect that your retinoid has on your skin.
  5. If your retinoid feels too irritating, you can mix this product with your moisturizer. This will buffer its effect.

There are several advantages to using retinoids. However, if you jump right in, you may toss that tube in the drawer before you gain any benefit. If you have questions about retinoid use for acne or anti-aging, we’re happy to help you. Contact Acclaim Dermatology at (832) 770-6388.

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