Posted in About Aging, Retinol Retin-A Tretinoin, Wrinkles And Aging Skin

How To Use Retin-A Or Retinol Without Irritation

You should know this first.  

Retinol and Retin-A are not the same things.  They are both based on Vitamin A as an active ingredient and both can reduce existing sun damage, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and sagging skin due to the aging process, and, help keep breakouts and blackheads at bay.   However, before you decide to begin using either one, you should be clear about how they are different. Read on.

What is Retinol?  

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that converts to retinoic acid when applied to the skin. Concentrations usually begin at .05% to 1%.   This is an over-the-counter ingredient that is found in many good brands that have a long and successful track record.

Retinol can be helpful in controlling acne and oily skin, and can stop the spread of acne for many people.

Retinol is also useful in speeding up the cell-turnover-rate (CTR) of the skin and it brings about a smoother, firmer and much healthier-looking complexion.  Fine lines will be greatly diminished, and over time, deeper wrinkles and sagging skin will also be far less of a problem.

In addition to this, the appearance of the skin becomes plumper, mainly due to the thickening effect of the Retinol, and  years can be “erased” from a person’s face.

You must allow 6 months to a full year to see results, but, for the greater majority of women, you will see them.  Also, the benefits are cumulative, so there is no “ceiling” for  how great you skin can look with continued use.

What is Retin-A?  

The brand name for tretinoin, Retin-A is  a retinoid that is 100x stronger than Retinol, and requires a prescription in many countries, including the USA.

Retin-A works much faster, and because of its strength and higher effectiveness, can bring about dramatic results for all of the benefits outlined above for Retinol.  This is about as close as our world will come to putting the “fountain of youth” in a tube.

The results from using Retin-A can be seen as quickly as a few weeks, depending on the individual’s body chemistry.  With greater speed and greater strength comes greater risk for irritation.

What effect will Retinol Or Retin-A have on my skin? 

With either one of these there can be stinging, peeling, dryness, redness during the first weeks or even months of use – depending on your own skin’s sensitivity. Increased photo-sensitivity is an important point you need to know, and so the use of an SPF 30 or higher every day is a must.

How can Retinol or Retin-A be used without irritation?

The level of skin irritation will depend on you, and so if you experience anything more than a mild reaction you need to seek the help of a medical doctor.  That is true for both over-the-counter products as well as prescription.

For those who are not alarmed by their reaction, and want to keep the irritation to a minimum, there are ways you can start to use Retinol or Retin-A that may be helpful.

  • Start with Retinol, it is much less likely to cause unwanted reactions.  Keep with that for a month, or longer if necessary, before moving up to Retin-A.
  • Be sure that your skin is very dry before applying either Retinol or Retin-A.  Cleanse your face, neck and décolleté with a mild cleanser that is free of any Vitamin A ingredient or other exfoliating or medicating ingredients.  Pat dry, and wait 20 minutes before applying Retinol or Retin-A.
  • Wait another 10 to 20 minutes, and then apply a basic moisturizer that is also free of Vitamin A ingredients or exfoliating ingredients.  I personally am using the original Nivea cream in the blue jar and it works well.
  • If your Retinol product can be used twice daily, work up to that over time.  Use your skin’s reaction as a way to determine when you can move up to 2x per day.  Twice per day can be done X times per week, or every other day, etc.  You don’t need to jump in completely at first.
  • When you are comfortable using Retinol, you should be able to move to Retin-A.  Some women won’t want to do this, though, if their results with Retinol are that good.  But for others who still have a goal in front of them, or who want a higher level of benefits, Retin-A can be the way for you to move forward.
  • Start with Retin-A once or twice per week.  You should be able to use your Retinol product (s) on the other days as well.  Gradually, according to your skin’s reactions, move up to every night with Retin-A and drop the Retinol.
Me and my handsome husband, New Year’s Eve 2017

Tips to help with dryness.    

This is a real problem that can affect all of us, even those who have oily skin.  The good news is that as time goes on, your skin will use the Retinol and/or Retin-A without any problems.  In the meantime, you can battle dryness using the following methods:

  • Use a gentle moisturizer day and night. Carry it with you so you can reapply as needed.  Opt for the Nivea I mentioned or look for a sensitive-skin formula that is free of any irritants.
  • Choose sunscreen that contains moisturizing ingredients.  Bare Minerals Prep Step is a broad spectrum SPF 50 and that has a nice moisturizing benefit.  Also, look for sunscreen formulated for babies – usually they state how non-irritating they are.  Never skip a day!
  • Take vitamins every day.  I prefer prenatal types as they are made to a higher standard.  My brand is Prenatal One by Rainbow Light.  Love them.
  • Take amino acids every day.  I use Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate.  It mixes perfectly with water and I take it without problem daily.
  • Drink more water.  Increase to 12 to 14 glasses.
  • Avoid skin treatments, masks, etc. that may dry your skin.  You may need to skip the scrubs you use at home as well as any rotary brush type of device, at least until your skin can handle it.
  • Make a lotion mask and apply it daily.  This could be a godsend for many women.  Here’s how:  Cleanse your skin.  Take cotton squares (Shishedo makes great ones) and peel them apart into as many layers as you can.  I can usually do two or three.  You’ll need approx. 7 to 10 of the peeled layers, so about 5 or so squares to begin with.  Have a gentle lotion moisturizer that comes either in a pump container or tube handy.  Wet each square and dab lotion on it.  Press it to your skin.  Keep going until you have your whole face (neck and décolleté if you like as well but you’ll need more squares) covered in cotton.  You’ll learn how to place them, and have some cut in smaller pieces to get around the eye, nose and mouth areas.  Leave this on for a minimum of 5 minutes, with it being even better at 10 to 20.  I have done prior to a shower and I simply start with my body cleansing first and then wash my hair last to keep the cotton on as long as possible.  Mainly though, I apply my lotion mask, don a terry robe and put a towel on the floor to catch any dripping, and perform standing reps/sets and yoga for 15 minutes.  That’s my favorite and it kills two birds.

My results.  

It’s too early for me to give you my full report on Retinol and Retin-A results, however, from everything I learned I believe it’s a sure thing. I will keep all of you updated about what I’m doing on my FBTV show on YouTube.

Remember that you are forever beautiful!



Me, taken on January 7, 2018.  I have not used Botox in more than 4 months, and so the crow’s feet are coming back.  My plan is to use it again soon, and I’m hoping that as my Retinol and then Retin-A products bring me skin benefits that I won’t need to use very often if at all.






Mostly I help my husband build our beekeeping business. Additionally: I write. Make videos from time to time. Consider offers for modeling and acting. MORE ABOUT ME Married nearly 33 years, I'm 62 years old (going on 35!) love love fitness and have two amazing children and one beautiful granddaughter. One of our kids is a 27 year old autistic son who I have home taught for the past 20 years. Our daughter is 32 and married and has an adorable baby girl. WHAT'S NEW Beekeeping! My hub and I have launched a beekeeping business! Very exciting! I'm in the process of formulating soaps and skin care items and will launch those lines soon.

6 thoughts on “How To Use Retin-A Or Retinol Without Irritation

  1. I’ve heard such positive feedback from friends about the use of Retin A. I’m going to be following your results closely because I want to start using it myself.


  2. You’re a natural beauty with such a sweet expression. I am thinking about using Retin A myself. I’m older than you but according to the consumer feedback I’ve read it still works. So, I am thinking you’ll get amazing results! Good luck!


  3. You’re blessed with such great features, Nancy. I love what you do to stay looking great. I haven’t tried vitamin A but have friends who rave about it. It’s all a matter of getting used to I have been told. Good luck and I look forward to your updates.


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