How to start Retin A without irritation, flaking, redness or sensitivity!

I am using Retin-A since a couple of months and I can tell you: it is probably the most effective anti-aging ingredient, that you could possibly use. It's better than Retinol or Glycolic Acid. Why? What does it do? It gets rid of your old skin cells. Those that make us look old and dull and sit on top of our skin and that we desperately need to get rid of to reveal younger, fresher looking skin. However: many women complain about irritation, redness, itchiness or flaking when using Retin-A, so I wanted to share with you, how I started to use Retin-A (without irritation!).

What is Retin-A? 

Retin-A (also called Tretinoin) is basically the big sister of Retinol! And maybe she is a little meaner too, but therefore more effective! Retinol is actually just a scientific name for Vitamin A. Retin-A on the other hand is derived from retinoic acid, a synthetic derivative of vitamin A, Retin-A is much stronger than retinol, and also has a direct effect as a skin treatment. By providing a light chemical peel, Retin-A helps speed up the natural exfoliation process and enhance collagen production.

And because Retin-A is so much stronger than Retinol, you need a prescription. I mean usually you need one, but I also have some tips for you in this article, on how to get Retin-A without a prescription! ;-)

Retin-A was actually invented to treat acne (and it has been very successful), but it is no secret anymore, that this product works also amazing to get rid of wrinkles. Because in the end it doesn't matter, what kind of skin issue we have: what we need is a product to get rid of the top layers of our skin! 

Anyhow, now that we know the difference between Retinol and Retin-A, I tell you, how you can start your Retin-A routine without irritation. Well, I can't actually promise that, since we all have of course different skin and react different, but at least I can tell you that this has worked for me.

Step 1: Start with a Retinol cream!

I definitely recommend to start first with a Retinol product to get your skin used to a Retinoid! I can recommend the Paula´s choice Retinol serum. In fact: I used this product for around 2 years! Now don't get scared: I don't think you actually have to use it for 2 years!

When I started with this Retinol serum, I had no clue about Retin-A, so it was just coincidence, that I used a Retinol serum before I started with Retin-A. 

I can also recommend the RoC Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Creme, that I recently added to my skin care routine or the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Face Cream  that I am also a fan of (in fact the ingredients of the both creams seem almost identical).

Example of how you could start your Retinol routine: apply a Retinol product every other day.

Now because we all have really different skin and our skin reacts so different too, I recommend just really listen to your inner gut (or better: skin!): use the Retinol product of your choice for at least a couple of weeks- better yet: a couple of month! Start using it every other day and work yourself slowly up to use it every day.

Even with a Retinol product, you can get irritated. You might feel slight tingling, experience redness or even a little flaking. These are no reasons to get discouraged- quite the opposite: it shows you actually that the product is working! 

Try to really listen to your skins needs! Ask yourself: does this feel comfortable or does my skin feel too irritated? As long as you feel comfortable, keep using the Retinol product of your choice. But don't get too comfortable either! A little flaking is good! If there is no flaking, how are you supposed to get rid of the top layers of your skin?

Step 2: Use a stronger Retinol serum or start with a very low dosage of Retin-A

If after a couple of weeks /or better a couple of month you feel like you can apply the Retinol cream every single day without irritation, it is time to step up your game! Either you use now an even stronger Retinol product such as the Paula's Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment, or you give it a slow start with a very low dosage of Retin-A. Retin-A is available from 0.01 to 0.1 percent. Since you need a prescription (or not with one of these tips), the doctor is the one that will prescribe whatever he/she thinks is right, but it will probably be something like 0.025% or 0.05 %. 

Start slow with the Retin-A! Just to see, how you react, apply it only every 2 or even 3 days. Wait and see, don't be inpatient. Better a slow and safe start, then a fast, very uncomfortable start. You can really hurt your skin, if you apply too much in the beginning and your skin needs quite some time to recover! Better safe than sorry! Right?

I can also highly recommend to start with Curology as your "beginner Retin-A". This is an online service that works close together with dermatologists- nothing illegal here lol! You are actually in contact with a dermatologist, send some photos of your skin´s issues and then you get a customized bottle of Curology, that also contains a low dosage of Retin-A. Great price too! You can get your first bottle FOR FREE and pay only $4.95 shipping! After your first month it is $19.95 +$4.95 shipping per month. Pretty good idea in my opinion! 

Example how you could start with a higher percentage of Retinol or a low  percentage of Retin-A ( for example 0.05) every other day. You can work your way up to use this product every day after a couple of weeks or month- depending on how you feel.

Always, always check your skin and see, how far you can go. Your skin will flake- and that might be uncomfortable- but this is the only way to get rid of the old dull looking skin cells! I always think it is funny, when I see questions such as: how to avoid flaking while using Retin-A. Because if you avoid it, how else will you profit from it? You NEED the flaking- otherwise it isn´t really working. You want to see results, right? So, flaking is unavoidable. While you can minimize the flaking (through applying low dosage Retin-A or skip days), but if you avoid it, you won't see the results that you are hoping for.

So: no, you can't actually use Retin-A and be 100% comfortable, a slight redness and flaking is just included in your experience. But you don't want to overdo it and have overly irritated or red skin.

Step 3: use a higher percentage of Retin-A!

If you feel like the low dosage of Retin-A that you are using isn't doing anything anymore, ask your doctor for a higher percentage of Retin-A! Again: check how your skin reacts to the higher percentage, depending on your irritation, you might again skip a day in between! Always, always check your skin. Don't go for any plan from anyone else (not mine either lol! I am only giving you possible examples). Your skin might have completely different needs! YOU decide what YOU need!

Example on how you could start to use a higher percentage of Retin-A every other day. You can work your way up on using Retin-A every day after a couple of weeks or month- depending on how you feel.

If you are able- after weeks or month -to work your way up to applying Retin-A every day- that is fine! I personally did that for a couple of weeks, but then I felt like my skin was getting very thin. When I took a bath, my face was so red afterwards and I had literally no top layers of skin anymore and it felt so baby soft- which of course doesn't sound bad, but it just made me feel like I did too much of shedding. 

So, I went back in the "better safe than sorry" mode and currently I use from Monday to Saturday a Retinol cream and only on Sunday evening I use my Retin-A. I get then slight flaking from Monday to Tuesday. The rest of the week my skin starts to look really glowing and nice.

This is my current Retin-A routine: I only apply it Sundays now but with a high percentage of 0.1% (highest available).

I think everybody has to find their own "Retin-A rythm" though, I can't stress enough, how different we all are and how different we react, and that is why it is so important to watch our own skin and build our own opinion, how the Retin-A routine feels to us! If I feel like my current routine isn't working anymore, I change again something. 

You can also do a "in between Retin-A cure"- where you use it again daily for 1 or 2 weeks to get better (exfoliating) results and then slow down the process again. You are the master of your Retin-A routine- or rather your skin is. Results speak for themselves and you will know, what is best for yourself, once you get the hang out of it.

Some women use Retin-A every single night since years and love it! If you have never used Retin-A, you might even get scared from those that complain about their irritations. And you know what? Maybe it isn't the right thing for you to do! Maybe you have so sensitive skin, that this just hurts too much! Then don't do it!

Just my 2 cents on how to start Retin-A without irritation! Do you have more tips? Would love to hear!

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