Tips to Help Your Skin While Using Retin-A

It’s no surprise that Retin-A is a wonder product. It’s been clinically proven to help with moderate acne, reverse sun damage and boost collagen. It works. Thanks to the internet, almost anyone can get their hands on Retin-A, even though it’s a prescription product. By skipping the doctor and getting a tube on your own, you might miss out on some really important things to know, things to avoid and how to get the best results with minimal side effects.

How it works:

It’s important to know that Retin-A works on a cellular level by increasing cell turnover at a faster rate than the natural rate of production. The rate of cell turnover is the time it takes for skin cells to develop, die and flake off. Because Retin-A increases this process, new skin is constantly being exposed. This new skin needs to be handled carefully. Use of a broad spectrum sunscreen is a must. If you are going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time, wear a wide brim hat.  Even on cloudy days, you have to protect this tender skin from any sun exposure.

How to use:

It’s best to use Retin-A at night before bed. Start using it about 3x/week and work your way up, using no more than once per day. Don’t use a cleanser with any harsh chemicals or scrub your face too hard. Use a mild cleanser like Cetaphil or CeraVe. Once your face is completely dry, use just a pea size amount to cover your entire face. Any more than that can lead to irritation and won’t make the product work any better.


When our skin gets too dry, our bodies kick our oil production into overdrive to help compensate for the loss of moisture. So those of us with oily skin can make things worse by not moisturizing and by using products that dry the skin out. Catch 22 right? Some people think that using a heavy moisturizer will only make their skin more oily. Not true. Giving the skin the moisture it needs will help your body stop the overproduction of oil. So after you apply the Retin-A, wait about 20 minutes then apply a mild moisturizer all over your face. I like the basic, no frills ones by Cetaphil and CeraVe. Your Retin-A is doing the work you need so just stick to a simple, gentle hydrating cream. You don’t need anything fancy.


You may notice for the first few weeks that your skin starts to break out. Don’t panic. This is normal and is a sign that the Retin-A is doing it’s job. Retin-A brings acne blockages to the surface causing blackheads to be dislocated. The blackheads are then discarded from the skin during cleansing. So even if you didn’t notice any acne before you started using Retin-A, you may now.  Retin-A is not causing it, it’s simply purging your skin.

Always follow the advice of your Healthcare provider. It’s a prescription product for a reason. The information I provided above is from my experience alone and I am not qualified to advise anyone on the use of Retin-A or any other prescription medications.