What is the Most Effective Strength for Topical Retin-a?

 I use 0.05% tetinoin cream which I'm told is the generic version of Retin-a. It works great on wrinkles and discoloration but I need something that is moisturizing for daytime...any recommendations?

Doctor Answers 2

Moisturizers pair well with Retin-A

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Most patients who use tretinoin (Retin-A) find that a moisturizer is necessary to combat the anticipated side effect of dry skin. A facial moisturizer with a sunscreen in it works great for the daytime to help combat the sun and work synergistically with the tretinoin to reverse sun damage and prevent fine wrinkling. Some of my favorites are Elta Daily, Neutrogena Healthy Defense, or Olay Complete Defense. Apply these every morning.

You can also use a moisturizer without sunscreen in the evening after applying your Retin-A. Apply it after the tretinoin and it will not change the effectiveness, only decrease drying and irritation.

There are tretinoin products that are more moisturizing and less irritating than generic tretinoin (Retin-A micro, Renova, etc.), but they cost more too. Pairing a mild facial moisturizer with generic tretinoin is the most cost-effective method if you're on a budget.

Baton Rouge Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Depends on how much money you want to spend

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There are a number of great moistutizers out there for daytime use. I think it would be most important to find one with a sunscreen in it. If it has a good antioxidant all to the better. My favorites would be Aveeno Ultracalming Cream which now comes in an SPF 30 or RevaleSkin Day Cream. There are many, many other good ones out there so my picking those two should not imply that I do not like others.

By the way, Tretinoin is usually applied at night since the sun breaks down the Retinoid, not because of a fear of a fierce sunburn. Retin A microgel by the way does not break down nearly as badly and occasionally dermatologists will recommend this for daytime use.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.