You don’t have to be a skincare freak to know about retinoids since literally, everyone talks about them, praising their skin renewal benefits whenever they have the chance. These vitamin A derivatives load serious perks working hard to boost radiance, firmness, and overall glow while fighting most skin concerns out there, from wrinkles and fine lines to breakouts and dark spots. However, despite all their benefits, retinoids are acting aggressively on the skin, having a reputation for causing dryness and irritations. This is especially true if you’re using tretinoin, which stands as the strongest and most potent retinoid, followed by retinol. So if tretinoin causes you sensitivities, you came to the right place as here we teach you every step you have to follow so you can use tretinoin without irritating your skin.
What is tretinoin?
Tretinoin, known as Retin-A, is a prescription-strength retinoid often used to treat acne, skin aging, sun damage, and dark spots. It works by boosting cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, which in turn promotes smoother and healthier skin. As Healthline states, tretinoin is a synthetic form of vitamin A that is not well tolerated by sensitive skin and can cause irritations, swelling, and excessive redness when used wrongly.
Why does tretinoin damage my skin?
Since tretinoin stimulates cell turnover, it eliminates the old cells from the surface, which have the role of protecting the skin. When these cells are replaced too quickly by tretinoin, they lack the necessary lipids to actually protect the skin, which is why some people may experience flaking, peeling, and irritation after tretinoin.
How to prevent skin irritation from tretinoin
There are a few things you can do to reduce irritations caused by tretinoin. Although your dermatologists may give you all the insights you need before prescribing tretinoin, you can still add some extra steps to your routine to increase skin resistance.
Start slow and build tolerance
First things first, it’s really important to start slow, meaning using products with low concentrations of tretinoin until your skin builds tolerance. How often you use your tretinoin cream is also essential to reduce the chances of irritations since your skin needs time to repair itself. Monitoring the skin and adjusting the strength and frequency of use of tretinoin is the key to getting the maximum benefits without irritations.
Use a moisturizer
If you want to reap all the tretinoin benefits without the gamble that you’re using it wrong, apply a hydrating and regenerating moisturizer after your tretinoin cream. According to Women’s Concepts, using ingredients such as hyaluronic acid after tretinoin not only hydrates your skin but acts as a buffer to reduce irritations. This is actually one of the best practices that dermatologists recommend to diminish tretinoin’s adverse effects. Besides, tretinoin is known to increase the skin’s absorption power, so what you apply after delivers better benefits. Hence, by using hydrating ingredients, you hold on to that plump and smooth skin for longer.
Avoid using harsh ingredients after tretinoin
Avoiding harsh actives like glycolic acid and vitamin C for a few days after using tretinoin is deadly important to dodge sensitivities. As I’ve already mentioned, what you apply after tretinoin gets deeper absorbed, and you don’t want too much glycolic acid or vitamin C penetrating your skin as it can mess up your complexion pretty badly. Besides, the skin’s protective barrier is weakened after tretinoin, and there’s a good chance that it won’t be able to resist harsh substances.
Apply regenerative ingredients
Restorative ingredients like ceramides, peptides, niacinamide, and squalane are your best friends after tretinoin. They help rebuild the cell structure that tretinoin has damaged, working to restore the protective barrier while giving a burst of hydration to avoid dryness.
Don’t use tretinoin on vulnerable skin
Applying tretinoin after a chemical peel, laser treatment, microneedling, or other cosmetic procedures that make your skin vulnerable is a big mistake. You won’t only negate each other’s benefits, but you risk damaging your skin. Preferably avoid using tretinoin two weeks after you have had the treatment.
If tretinoin still irritates, either lower the concentration, use it less often, or use gentler retinoids like retinol or retinaldehyde. While it’s perfectly normal to experience sensitivities the first time with tretinoin, if things don’t improve after two or three weeks, you should sound the alarm to your dermatologist. Remember, your dermatologist is the one to give you proper indications for your skin needs, so make sure you stay in touch with him/her and keep him/her up to date with your progress.