skip to content

5 Tips to Reduce Irritation from Retinoids and Acids

We all know retinoids are the royals of anti-aging in skincare, but with great power comes possible irritation. Same can be said for skincare acids. To harvest the potential benefits of these ingredients, you might have to overcome the possible side effects…irritation. But let’s see if we can reduce or lower the amount of irritation that may come with our Picky Expert Gabby! We’ll walk you through her tips and points so you can reduce irritation with retinoids and acids!

#1. Keep Skin Hydrated

One key concern is dehydration when using acids and retinoids in your skincare routine. You can combat this by adding serums, moisturizers and other products that contain hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, ceramides and urea. There are plenty more hydrating ingredients that can help, check out our Ingredient Guide to: Hydration for more. Also check our Ingredient Guide to: Soothing to help keep skin calm and relieve redness.

#2. Have a Buffer

A common concern is adding a buffer for your acids and retinoids can make it ineffective. That is NOT true! You’ll still reap the benefits of these acids, just without the irritation. Adding a buffer or “sandwiching” by combining acids with a moisturizer can help soften the rather strong blow these ingredients tend to have on the skin.

#3. Sunscreen

We can’t emphasize this one enough! Sunscreen is absolutely crucial to any day time routine, but especially when using acids and rentoids! Acids and retnoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so it’s best to cover and lather up to limit the amount of irritation and damage from UV exposure. If you’re unsure of where to start with sunscreen, check out our help Sunscreen 101 post.

#4. Reduce Frequency

Take it down a notch. No need to use these products so heavily, their benefits can still be seen without being used daily. Apply retinoids and acids less often, especially if you’re just starting out. Go slow and apply once a week for a couple weeks, then increase to twice a week for a few weeks, and so on. When it comes to acids and retinoids, slow and steady always wins the race. If you start to experience irritation, take it as a sign to reduce frequency.

#5. The Less Actives, The Better

You don’t need one million different actives in your routine. We know it’s tempting. Hundreds of appealing ingredients and products out there, but trust us, you don’t need them all! We suggest just trying a few in your regular routine. Or alternate between so you’re not using so many at the same time.

Be Picky

We hope these tips are helpful for you to reduce irritation with retinoids and acids! If you need help getting started with retinoids in general, check out our When To Start Retinoids post. For help with skin actives, see our Crash Course on Skin Actives.

Make sure to download the Picky app for more helpful tips and skincare science! Our Q&A tab is full of skincare advice and a warm Picky community waiting to help. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more fun content.

Created with Picky Expert Gabby, @skinbyresearch, a biochemist from the US!

5 Responses

  1. This is a really interesting topic for me as I have been introduced to retinol a bit late. Just recently realized I needed one in my skincare routine when my derm prescribed it to me to help with my hormonal acne, also treating fine lines as well. These tips are really helpful and I’m loving the results so far!

  2. I really like the sandwhich method. A little harder to do with a retinol oil like the ones from the Ordinary but this definitely works for Tretinoin

  3. the less actives the better definitely true im just new in retinoids and learn now to really check and learned about a product before use them.

  4. Thank you for these tips! I had a hard time with retinoid as it made me purge so bad. I decided to stop using it after 8+ weeks. Maybe, I can try to pick it up again later on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *