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How to Get Through the First Three Months on Retin-A

Evie Sparkes is a published YA novelist with a passion for all things fashion, hair and beauty.


Help Is At Hand

I can help. I am 47 and have been using Retin-A for almost a year now. I have had the dry skin. the flaking, the irritation. All of it!

I'm over it, and so can you be if you follow these tips.

Benefits of Retin-A

Improves skin texture, thickens the skin over time, encourages collagen production, improves fine lines and deeper wrinkles, lifts eyelids.

There are so many reasons to use Retin-A. I have experienced all of these benefits.

Products You Will Need

My Must Have ProductsWhat It DoesWhen To Apply

Squalene Oil


Before Anything Else

Hyaluronic Acid


After Squalene Oil

Nivea Night Cream

Moisturises Intensely

After Retin-A (Evening)

Mineral SPF

Protects Against Sun Damage

In The Mornings

Prepare Your Skin Before You Start

Moisturise well and use retinol's for a couple of months before you use Retin-A

Start Slow And Steady

This is definitely the way to go. Otherwise you'll stress your skin out so much that it will rebel to the max!

Start off applying a pea size amount of the cream or gel every three evenings. Use a 0.025%. Don't go right for 1% as it's too harsh at first.

I am up to 1% strength now but I went from 0.025% then up to 0.05% and lastly up to 1% when I knew that my skin could cope with it.

Mix with a light moisturiser if you are concerned.

Be Careful

You can use Retin-A around your eyes, I do in fact. Lots of people will say not to as the skin is quite thin here, but as long as you stick to the 0.025% in this area and moisturise first and after, you should be fine.

Just dab a tiny weeny amount in and let it dry before applying a light moisturiser.

Exfoliation is key

I can't stress enough how important it is to exfoliate your skin when you are using Retin-A.


How To Handle Irritation

I found it incredibly tough to find a way to combat the dryness. It was far more troublesome than the flaking.

My skin is fairly dry anyway, so it was not happy with me, not at all. In fact it played up completely. It has a tantrum and was clearly telling me to stop or else.

I am not a giver upperer though!

I was determined that I was going to win this particular battle. I had started to notice lines I had either not noticed before or hadn't been there before. I wasn't sure to be honest, as when I hit 44 I suddenly became more aware of my skin, and all of it's flaws.

When Will I start To See Results?

It will take at least three months before you start to see a difference in your skin. The thing is that you will only notice how horrible your skin feels for the first three months. Even if there are improvements, you probably won’t appreciate them. At six months, you will notice a significant change in your skin. I’ve also noticed some of my sun damage is less visible.

The first improvement you will notice is the texture of your skin.

My Night Time Routine

I wait until I'm about to go to bed before I apply my skin care products. I am a face toucher, and want to go to sleep right after I treat my face to avoid irritation caused by my hands!

  • Cleanse skin
  • Massage a small amount of squalene into my skin and around my eyes
  • Massage in some Hyaluronic acid
  • Apply a pea size amount of Retin-A
  • Let it sink in for a couple of minutes
  • Lightly rub in some rich Nivea night cream
  • Go to bed

My Morning Routine

  • Wash face in cold water
  • Exfoliate
  • Apply a glycolic toner
  • Apply a squalene oil
  • Apply a mineral spf (at least 30)
  • Apply foundation and make-up
  • Go to work!

To Sum Up my thoughts

I can say in all honesty that deciding to use Retin-A to hold back the years is not for the faint hearted amongst you.

It is irritating, flaking, drying. Yes all of that and more. You will feel like giving up at times, indeed many women do give up. The thing is, they end up regretting it and have to then start the cycle all over again, going through all of the same trials.

If you can have the staying power, I can promise you that you WILL see results. I have heard it said that Retin-A is a long term partner, not a one night stand. I think this is a very good analogy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Evie Sparkes (author) on February 07, 2020:

As long as you gently exfoliate it's fine. I have to in order to keep my skin bright :)

L on February 06, 2020:

You definitely should not exfoliate when on Retin-A!!!