How Do I Apply Retin-A?

Doctor Answers 4

How to Apply Retin-A

Here's how to properly apply Retin-A (tretinoin cream):
• Retin-A must be applied at night.
• Apply a thin layer (pea size amount) at night over a cleansed, dry face. A small amount goes a long way.
• Don’t apply cream to damp skin because it can cause irritation.
• Avoid getting tretinoin in corners of your mouth, eyes and nose, as it can irritate these sensitive areas.
• In the morning, wash your face with a mild facial cleanser.
• After washing apply a gentle moisturizer.
• Use a sun screen that is separate from your moisturizer, (the effectiveness of an SPF in a moisturizer breaks down when blended with other ingredients)
• When first using tretinoin, start slowly and apply it every other night or every 3 nights. Side effects may include dry, irritated, flaking skin. These side effects are worse in the first 2 weeks of application. As your skin adjusts to the medicine, you can apply it more frequently.
• If you notice an increase in flaking, it’s OK to take a break for a couple of days.


South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Retin A is excellent choice for photoaging

Retin A is time tested scientifically validated treatment for photoaging. It works well to minimize the signs of aging skin due to sun damage. Ideally it should be applied nightly to desired areas. Avoid the eyes. Often it can be irritating and it should be titrated to irritation , thus skip a day or two or three until your skin tolerates it on a regular basis. It should only be used by presciption by a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Steven Hacker, MD
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

How Do I Apply Retin-A?

Retin-A is applied at night prior to going to sleep. The area should be cleansed with soap. A pee size amount of Retin-A should be applied to the area treated and rubbed into the skin in a circular motion. It can be applied to the forehead, cheeks, nose, chin etc. Some patient apply it to the neck or lower eyelid but that needs to be done with caution due to sensitive skin and strength of the medication. It should be not done with out consulting the physician first. It is imperative to wash the face in the morning and apply sun block to the area treated due to the fact that Retin-A makes your skin sensitive to the sun! Some people may not tolerate daily use and need a low concentration and used 2 to 3 times a week!

It may take 2-3 weeks of redness and peeling when first used!

It is one of the best products out in the market for treating acne as well as for facial skin rejuvenation.


Good luck!

Retin A application

Retin A is applied after cleansing the face and usually before bed time.  A very small amount of Retin A should be placed on the finger tips and gently rubbed into the forehead, temples, nose, cheeks, and chin.  Some patients even apply it to their neck when directed so by their physician.  Occasionally, a patient may not be able to tolerate the initial peeling and dryness from nightly application so an every other night application schedule would suffice.

Anthony Perri, MD
Houston 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.