Rookie Retinoid Mistakes: A Dermatologist’s Guide to Getting it Right, Edition 1

Aug 14, 2023 | Skin, Skincare, Uncategorized

As a dermatologist, I’ve seen countless patients make rookie mistakes when it comes to using retinoids in their skincare routine. Retinoids, such as retinol and tretinoin are powerful ingredients that offer numerous benefits for the skin, including reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, treating acne, and improving skin texture. However, to make the most of these benefits, it’s crucial to avoid common pitfalls. In this blog, I’ll be addressing the rookie retinoid mistakes that many individuals make and providing valuable tips to ensure a successful retinoid experience.

How to Use Retinoid Correctly – Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Mistake 1: Don’t stick with it long enough:

One of the most common mistakes is not giving retinoids enough time to work. Patience is key when using retinoids, as they require consistent and long-term use to produce visible results. It’s important to understand that significant improvements may take several weeks or even months. So, stick with it and stay committed to your skincare routine.

  1. Mistake 2: Don’t know about the “hardening” or adjustment period.

When starting a topical retinoid, it’s common to experience redness and dryness initially. However, these side effects typically subside after about two weeks as your skin adjusts to the treatment. It’s essential to be patient and allow your skin to adapt. If the redness and dryness persist or become severe, consult your dermatologist for guidance.  

  1. Mistake 3: Don’t moisturize with heavy a cream:

Many retinoid users make the mistake of not moisturizing their skin adequately. Retinoids can be drying especially during the “hardening” period, so it’s crucial to use a moisturizer to maintain the skin’s hydration levels. So, to use retinoid correctly, moisturize with use! 

  1. Mistake 4: Don’t switch moisturizing before to moisturizing after once your skin has “hardened” or “adjusted”:

As your skin adjusts to retinoid use, you will notice the redness and dryness will dissipate and new glowing skin emerge. At this point, you can switch from moisturizing before applying retinoids to moisturizing after. This helps to lock in moisture and mitigate potential dryness caused by retinoid use and makes the retinoid more potent.   During the hardening period, moisturize before applying your retinoid to provide the TLC your skin needs to make the adjustment.

  1. Mistake 5: Think all retinoids and retinols are created equal:

A common misconception is that all retinoids and retinols are the same. In reality, different retinoid molecules vary in potency and effectiveness. They come in different percentages and formulations. A 0.05% preparation in one cream is not equal to a 0.05% different retinal cream. It’s crucial to consult with a dermatologist to determine the most suitable retinoid product for your specific needs.

  1. Mistake 6: Don’t use sunblock:

Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s crucial to protect your skin by using broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and at least 6% zinc oxide.  Waterproof and tinted with iron oxide are another plus! I have a blog post all about how to use sunscreen RIGHT HERE! I also have a Tik Tok where I share my favorite sunscreens HERE.

  1. Mistake 7: Applying Retinol in the Morning:

Another rookie mistake is applying retinoids, such as retinol, in the morning. To use retinoids correctly, use in the evening as they can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Applying them during the day increases the risk of sunburn and other sun-related skin damage.  The molecules are also sensitive to degradation with UV exposure, so you lose efficacy applying it in the morning. To maximize the benefits of retinoids while minimizing potential side effects, it’s recommended to incorporate them into your nighttime skincare routine.

Achieving beautiful and healthy skin requires knowledge, patience, and proper skincare practices. By knowing how to use retinoid correctly, you can make the most of the remarkable benefits of retinoids while minimizing potential side effects. Remember to be patient, moisturize appropriately, protect your skin from the sun, and consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice.

At my clinic, I specialize in designing comprehensive skincare programs and plans tailored to your unique needs. If you’re interested in optimizing your retinoid experience or developing a roadmap for your future skincare journey, I invite you take my free online skin care consultation or to come visit me in clinic. Our team of experienced professionals will be delighted to guide you towards achieving and maintaining your own beautiful skin. Schedule an appointment today and embark on a path to radiant and healthy skin that you deserve.

Note: The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your dermatologist or skincare professional for personalized guidance.