What Do I Use First Retin-A or Night Cream?

I got some tretinoin retin-a 0.1 gel from doctors yesterday and done a test patch last night with no adverse reaction, but would really like to know what do i use first?.., my night cream (Elemis pro marine collagen) or the Retin-A? ...How often do i use the Retin-A and finally can i still use my Witch Hazel toner as it contain alcohol? I would really appreciate some advice as i'm dying to use it :)

Doctor Answers 6

Using Retin-A To Your Best Advantage

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If a patient's skin has become acclimated to their retinoid, I instruct them to begin using it every other night or every third night.  Some people use a night cream over their retinoid after 5-10 minutes.  I usually suggest that you use your retinoid one night and then your moisturizer the next.  If you use both, however, always apply your retinoid last.  Witch hazel is probably not your best choice in toners.  Something without alcohol and small amounts of lactic and/or glycolic is indicated.

Virginia Beach Plastic Surgeon

Toner then Retin A

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Apply toner before retin a. However, witch hazel may not be the best toner to use in combination with retin a due to the possibility of irritation.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Retin-A should be applied to dry skin

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Personally, I don't like Witch Hazel and think it's terrible for the skin, and it can potentially irritate the skin if you apply Retin-A over it. Retin-A is drying, so applying it over Witch Hazel will be excessive. I'd recommend if you insist on the Witch Hazel that you don't use it on the same nights as the Retin-A. Retin-A needs to be applied to clean, dry skin only. I recommend 2-3x a week to start with. Apply moisturizer or the night cream over it; your prescription should be on first.

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RetinA Use...

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You may use your toner immediately after you wash your face in the evening.  Then, I always recommend you wait 5-10 minutes to make sure your skin is without any moisture and completely dry, before applying your Retin-A.  Apply a "pea size" to entire face, avoiding eye area.  You may apply a moisturizer on top afterwards.  You may want to start slow with the Retin-A, using it only 2-3 times for the first week and then slowly move into using it nightly. 


Dr. Grant Stevens

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 152 reviews

Gold Standard Anti Aging

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Topical Retinoids (i.e. retin a) are the gold standard for anti aging. They help improve fine lines and wrinkles, dyspigmentation, pore size as well as acne. One common side effect which occurs while starting to use a retinoid is redness and peeling. This can be minimized by every other night application for one to two weeks, as well as the use of a moisturizer after applying the retin a. It is important to apply the product to a clean and dry face. This means waiting 15-20 minutes after washing your face so that your pores have a chance to "close" and the product is not absorbed to rapidly. 

There are many great cleansers and toners, but in my opinion witch hazel is far too astringent and harsh to use on your skin. I would find an alternate, and begin using your retin a. You will see results starting around one month of use. 

Jeffrey Fromowitz, MD, FAAD
Boca Raton Dermatologic Surgeon

Retin-A with Opti-Ceramides

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We routinely prescribe retinoids for our patients as it has been shown to be an excellent anti-aging product for the skin. Proper moisturization is a key element to the application of retinoids and has been shown to increase compliance. 

Opti-Ceramides, as in Elevase Moisture Booster help keep the skin properly moisturized and we recommend combination treatment to all of our patients More information about Elevase Moisture Booster can be found on the link below. 

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.