In the quest for healthy skin many of us will try anything and everything. Armed with a drawer full of products we follow every tip we have every read or heard. And then we wonder why our skin isn’t “perfect”. Could it be that we are overdoing it? When it comes to skin care, sometimes more is not “more”. Overusing or combining certain products can have the opposite effect you are hoping for- irritation, dryness, or cancelling out the benefits of the product completely!
Such is the case when it comes to Retin A and other retinols. Prescription only Retin-A is a powerful wrinkle fighter that helps renew skin. So powerful, it can also cause dryness and irritation. Take extra care when using Retin-A as well as other retinols:
Ease into it – If you are a first time user of Retin-A and experiencing extreme redness and irritation, you could be overdoing it. Start with only a small pea size amount. If you are still experiencing irritation, you may want to build up to Retin-A by using an over-the-counter product with retinol first. Allowing your skin to build up a bit of a tolerance (it could take up to a year) will make the transition to Retin-A easier.
Do not use a toner or exfoliating scrub with Retin-A. If you are using Retin-A, you should avoid using any toner that has alcohol, glycolic acid, witch hazel, retinols, or benzoyl peroxide. These types of toners are known to dry skin. Retin-A already dries out skin. Using toners in combination with Retin-A will exacerbate the problem. Skin undergoing Retin-A may be so dry that it begins to peel. You may be tempted to scrub the peeling skin away with an exfoliator, but this would be a mistake. In addition to peeling, the skin will most likely be highly sensitive. Rubbing a gritty exfoliator against it will only make the situation worse. Use a damp wash cloth to gently buff away dead skin cells.
Take care when combining Retinol with AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid): This combo can lead to skin irritation for women with sensitive skin. To avoid this, alternate using AHA in the morning and retinol at night.
Retinol and acne treatments. In the case of acne, be extra careful! Retinol, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide all fight acne and help prevent new blemishes. Using them together will NOT turbo charge your acne fighting punch! On the contrary, it will set your skin up for failure. Using salicylic acid and retinol at the same time causes excessive dryness, redness and irritation; and mixing benzoyl peroxide with retinol has the opposite effect as the two ingredients have been shown to deactivate each other. Meaning you won’t see any effect.
Vitamin C and Retinol: Use together with extreme caution. Super-strength concentrations of both vitamin C and retinol are both very powerful. Used together they can cause the skin to become dry.
There is an art and a science to getting healthy skin. If you are not seeing the results you want or your skin feels overly irritated, you need to look at your regimen holistically. Ensuring that you are not overdoing it with any actives is as important as determining if you are using the correct products for your skin type. And before you decide to try the latest new trend, remember more isn’t always more. You may need to remove a product or two from your regimen before you add others.
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