Ten Tips to Use Vitamin A Successfully

It’s all too easy to overdo Vitamin A (retinoids) and many users end up suffering from the unpleasant and uncomfortable effects of ‘too much, too fast, too soon.’ 

Like most advanced skincare, slow and steady wins the race and the same goes for retinoids because the skin has to go through an adjustment period and depending on your initial skin condition, the formulation and the strength of retinoid your opt for, you may experience some transient tenderness, flushing, itching, burning or stinging sensations, dryness or scaling at the onset of your retinoid journey.

This adjustment period is known as retinisation and at the most can last between 6 - 8 weeks. If you’re acne prone you may experience ‘purging’ which is the skin excreting old skin cells, sebum and dirt because retinoids turbo boost cell turnover, pushing everything forward from the lower layers of skin to be expelled at the surface.

Hang in there…..

It’s not uncommon for people to abandon their retinoids a few days or weeks into the retinisation period, so here are some tips to reduce the potential irritating effects on the skin and allow for a smooth transition.

  1. Start with the lowest strength possible

    Using a high strength product straightaway can send your skin into shock and increase irritation. Keep in mind that oil and cream formulations are a lot gentler on the skin than serums and gels.


    Use every other night or every three nights for the first 6-8 weeks. You need to build up your tolerance as the skin needs to get used to the high – level regeneration activity of retinoids.

  3. Use it on dry skin

    Don’t apply your retinoid on wet skin – water makes it easier for products to penetrate the skin so mop up moisture before application.

  4. Buffer and Barrier

    Use a moisturiser or light facial oil before and/or after applying your retinoid. This is known as buffering and it gives a time-release effect to reduce irritation.

  5. Small beginnings

    Start with a pea sized amount before working your way up to larger amounts– retinoids are very potent so a little does a lot. You can work your way up to two pea sizes as your skin becomes more tolerant.

  6. Apply evenly

    You may find it easier to dot your retinoid around your face so it is evenly distributed and you avoid hotspots.

  7. Zonal application

    Apply to your retinoid to cheeks, nose, forehead and chin first before taking over the sensitive areas around the eyes, lips, neck and chest where the skin is much thinner.

  8. Protect your lips

    Retinoids tend to make the lips very dry, so keep a lip balm handy and use it often.

  9. Keep them in the dark

    Retinoids are very unstable and will degrade in the sunlight making them useless to the skin . Save them for your night routine.

  10. Sun protection for life

    Always apply a minimum SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage and UV radiation.

When using retinoids, there is no telling how your skin is going to react so its best to exercise caution and perform a patch test  behind your ears or the crook of your arm a few days in advance. All being well, you can then taper your retinoid into your skincare routine for your best skin ever.