The Right Way to Use Retin-A

Retin-A is a great product- it increases collagen turnover, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps reverse sun damage.  So why don’t more people use it?

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The downside of Retin-A is that it’s very irritating to skin.  Patients frequently complain of redness, irritation and flaking.  These complaints are often enough to cause people to stop using Retin-A, despite its beneficial effects.

There is a right way to use Retin-A, however, one that helps minimize the peeling and redness.  Here are some tips:

  1. Use the right concentration.  Retin-A is made under several brand names, and all come in a variety of concentrations.  If you are new to Retin-A products, start with the weakest concentration- usually 0.5%
  2. Use the right amount.  A pea-sized amount is enough for your entire face.  Apply the Retin-A at night, after washing your face.  It only takes a minute to absorb, and you can layer moisturizer on top.
  3. Don’t use it every day.  Start off using Retin-A only two times a week.  After a couple of weeks, work up to every-other-day.  If this is the most you ever use Retin-A, it’s still enough.  If you ultimately work up to using it every day, kudos for you.
  4. Be patient.  Your skin does get used to Retin-A, but it can take 6-8 weeks.  This is why you have to gradually increase how frequently you use the Retin-A.  During this adjustment period, use a heavier moisturizer than normal and apply it several times a day.  Rubbing moisturizer into your palms and then patting it gently over your face can help keep your foundation in place.


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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

6 thoughts on “The Right Way to Use Retin-A

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  6. Kate4450

    Thanks so much for the tips on using Retin-A! Now I know why I was such a flaky mess when I tried it! Plan to start again the right way. 🙂


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