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Post in Dry Skin

HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

Im currently on my 3rd week using Retin A and my skin has become dry and flakey. Apparently this is normal until my skin adjust to the retin. Im seeking an affordable cleanser (preferably cream based), i also need a good SPF moisturizer. I have to stay away from anything citrus in order not to irritate my skin (while on retin citrus and alcohols can irritate and cause bad redness). Also, i prefer something with minimal alcohol in the products. I cant afford to lose anymore hydration lol. I cant wait until my "Ugly" phase is over. Only 3 weeks in and my skin is almost acne clear. Im hoping the dreadful 4-6 weeks horror stories of purging does NOT come my way, Id really appreciate any suggestions from my fellow beauties.

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

Oh oh, I too use Retin A and always wait for these type of Qs so I can share my discoveries with others Smiley Happy


1. First off, are you using Retin A or Retin A Micro?? If it's the former, next time you see your derm, ask him/her about possibly switching to the Micro formula. It's the same exact medication, but formulated differently so it isn't all absorbed all at once in a massive dosage, essentially - it is more of a time release kind of thing. I use the Micro (switched after using the normal Retin A) and it makes a world of a difference - much less drying for me. But, as always, talk to your derm about this! 


2. Cleansers. I am a weirdo, and I like to switch up what I use between mornings and nights. In the AM, I use a basic clean & clear cleanser - I believe the Morning Burst Hydrating Cleanser (it's a tealish bottle) - and it's super super gentle and hydrating, and smells like cucumber! It never irritates my skin, makes it feel tight, or dries it out at all. I love it. At night, I take off my makeup with Neutrogena makeup wipes, because I want to make sure the cleanser I use is cleaning my skin, not just taking off my makeup. After that, I wash my face with Neutrogena's extra gentle fragrance free cleanser (white bottle) - this, too, is extremely gentle. I love it. Neither of these are creams, but I'm a big fan of them anyways.


3. Exfoliation. My biggest adjustment when starting to use Retin A was the flaky, dry skin that my face makeup would cling too - especially in the winter! It can definitely look horrible. Through a LOT of trial and error (and sadly, lots of red, irritated skin), I've fond 2 exfoliators that I really love that aren't too harsh on my skin. One is the Vasanti Brightenup! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (found this through Birchbox, yay!) and the other is the Freeman facial polishing mask in charcoal and black sugar. I ONLY use these a max of 1x a week, and only when I can see that my makeup is sticking to patches of dry skin, no matter how much I moisturize. I didn't use these until a solid month into using Retin A, as my skin, like yours, was super sensitive initially. Eventually, though, your skin will adjust to the tretinoin and you'll be able to tolerate a little bit more. If you're not into these, a warm washcloth can work wonders as well to get off some of that dead, flakey skin! Sometimes moisturizing really just isn't enough. Definitely don't overdo this though.


3. Moisturizers! It took me so long to find one that didn't burn or sting after applying it, make my face even more red, or didn't break me out. I use the Cerave facial moisturizing lotion - they make both an AM (with SPF) and PM version. Found at the drugstore, and a little pricy for a drugstore moisturizer, but they have coupons on their website! Sometimes, though, parts of my face are REALLY dry and that doesn't cut it. For those occasions, I LOVE LOVE LOVE FAB's Ultra Repair Creme. I usually don't apply this over my entire face (although you definitely could, and I know women that do - and swear by it!), more just over the really parched patches of skin. I then apply the Cerave over it/around it. I love these moisturizers and seriously am never changing them, haha!


So that ended up being super long, but I hope you took something helpful away from this! Feel free to ask any more Qs about the Retin A Smiley Happy Keep it up, even if your skin does start to get a little bit worse.. it WILL get better!!

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I would suggest checking out FAB's Face Cleanser which has a rich creamy texture but is sulfate free and does not contain citrus ingredients. The alcohol (stearyl) is considered a healthy/emollient based alcohol rather than a drying one and the formula hydrates with glycerin, anti-oxidant rich white tea, and soothes with aloe, allantoin, and feverfew. It's very gentle and it's focus is cleansing rather than being boosted with alpha hydroxy acids or blemish tackling means. 


In terms of sticking with affordable means (the FAB cleanser is $20 for 5 oz.) also for a day moisturizer with SPF, I would suggest hitting up your local drugstore or Target for CeraVe's SPF 30 day lotion. The formula is a wonderful blend of ceramides (which aid in moisture retention in cell walls), hyaluronic acid (which draws moisture from the atmosphere and binds 1000x its weight to skin for a continuous hydration experience without being heavy or greasy), and niacinamide (a vitamin B derivative that aids in repairing and strengthening skin). 


If you're looking for a good supplementary item to your skin care regimen all together, consider a hydration booster such as FAB's Ulta Repair Liquid Recovery or Dr. Jart's Ceramidin Liquid.


The FAB liquid is a water based formula that ties in oat (to relief itching, redness, and dehydration), sodium hyaluronate, and calming and brightening feverfew, licorice, and green tea. 


The Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid (also available with a cream, sans SPF, in a mini trial kit) contains ceramides to ensure whatever source of moisture you're introducing to skin will be properly utilized, soothing aloe and portulaca, healing vitamin B (panthenol), and anti0inflammatory licorice.


These liquids can be applied to especially dry areas (all Winter I used the Dr. J Ceramidin on flaky spots like my nose and cheeks when they would get wind-chapped) and especially flaky spots to instantly hydrate as they absorb very quickly. They can be a big boost to wear under your moisturizer.

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

The FAB cleanser sounds amazing. I'll check it out. Thank you!!!! So much detail ☆☆

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I love my retin-a in 0.025% and I will be switching to a stronger one (0.05%) soon! I use Paula's Choice Earth Sourced Cleansing Gel. It takes all my makeup off! I do not use moisturizer because when my skin got adapted to Retin-a, the oiliness came back and balanced everything. I use Paula's Choice sunscreen during the day Resist Super-Light Daily Defense SPF 30. I keep my regime very very simple Smiley Happy 

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I must say I am missing a lot of my usual routine with some of my favorite products. The simplicity makes me sad Lol. But retin a is so worth it. 

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

The Neutrogena Naturals line has very good and gentle cleansers. I have the Purifying Facial Cleanser and I love it. I checked the back of the bottle and it has no citrus, but it does have coconut. Smiley Happy

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

Neutrogena cleansers are the only drug store products so far that give me little rash pimples!!! Lol the sound of coconut sounds amazing though. Thank you! 

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

CeraVe has excellent products. I totes agree. Some Sephora options:


Dr Jart's Try me Ceramidin kit 

Dr Jart's Water Fuse Max-Water Sleeping facial (for an extra oomph)


For cleansers:

Fresh Soy Cleanser

FAB Cleanser


keep your routine simple for these first couple months as your skin adjusts to the tretinoin. If u have a Clarisonic already, I find that using it once per week (and only GLIDING it across your skin and NOT pressing it against your skin) helps tremendously to gently whisk away any flakes. If u don't have one and haven't used one, I wouldn't start using it now during these first few weeks.


try only slashing your face with warm water in the morning instead of cleansing It per se, unless you are oily or your face "feels" dirty. 


FWIW: I am on 0.05% Atralin Gel. It has been nothing short of amazing in controlling my acne. Good luck!

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I do have a clarisonic.  I do hesitate using it so early in my journey.  But could definitely use a little help with removing some flakiness.  I'll give it a gentle go. I live in Canada so I'm hoping I can find ceraVe somewhere.  To be honest I've never seen it. Perhaps only because I wasn't looking for it before. Thanks!!!♡

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I posted my response before scrolling down, we totally recommended the same---CeraVe, Dr. Jart's Ceramidin products, and FAB's cleanser! Smiley Very Happy

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A


but I am no lylysa -- your knowledge and advice is always excellent, measured, and spot on.

Henri Bendel has Dr Jart products at 60% off in its flagship store on 5th Ave in Manhattan thru August 2nd. If you are in NYC, RUN don't walk to HB, everyone!

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

Retin a will make your skin dry, but it will also make it sensitive! I'd recommend the CeraVe cleanser, it's super gentle and affordable. The Neutrogena healthy defence SPF 45 is great for hydration and sun protection. CeraVe makes some good moisturizers as well that are very thick. Also, don't exfoliate!! Retin a works by speeding up the natural exfoliation of your skin so don't over-exfoliate to try and get rid of the flakies. If you have to a gentle way to remove some is to apply a layer of moisturizer and then gently use a face cloth.


Good luck, Retin a is an awesome product for acne and wrinkles!

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

Thank you for your suggestionsSmiley Happy  everyone seems to have similar thoughts. This can only be a good thing! 

Re: HYDRATION!!!.....while using Retin A

I love that CeraVe is becoming more and more recognized by folks here in BT! <3 it!

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