Serious acne is no joke and, more often than not, clearing it requires a trip to the dermatologist. Unfortunately, things don’t end there. Topical prescription acne treatments like tretinoin, for example, won’t work if they aren’t used properly. With that said, the best moisturizers to use with tretinoin cream (also known by the brand name Retin A) won’t interfere with the medication and will prevent and relieve the common side effects of the drug — namely, drying, flaking, sensitivity, and inflammation.
Tretinoin is a topical form of vitamin A that works as both an anti-inflammatory and chemical exfoliant. By increasing skin cell turnover, it gets rid of stubborn acne and prevents further breakouts and clogged pores. Seems simple (and amazing), right? It is, but a lot of times, people make the mistake of simply adding tretinoin cream into their existing acne-fighting skin care routine. Doing this causes seriously dry skin and severe irritation that shows up as flaking, redness, and burning. Ouch! According to Dr. David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist and CEO and founder of Curology, switching to a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer will be the least irritating when pairing with a tretinoin cream. He adds that, “Generally, you may find you need a more hydrating moisturizer with a cream or gel base to help combat flaking or dryness, especially in the winter months.” Another tip? “Avoid or use caution when moisturizers contain harsh alcohols, vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acids and lactic acids."
If you've recently obtained prescription tretinoin cream, want clear skin, and are afraid to make the drying effects of the drug worse than they need to be, the key to choosing a moisturizer is to err on the gentle side. Any one of the five options below will provide the hydration your skin needs so that you can be on your way to healthy, acne-free skin ASAP.
1Best For Daily Use: A Oil-Free Gel That Counteracts The Drying Effects Of Topical Acne Treatments
Peter Thomas Roth's Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer is an everyday gel-lotion that's made specifically to hydrate skin that's dry due to topical acne treatments. With the moisture-boosting effects of hyaluronic acid plus aloe vera and azulene to soothe irritation, your skin will feel smooth, flake-free, and protected all day long. Since it's oil-free, it won't cause breakouts or leave behind any greasy residue.
2Best Night Cream: A Balm That Calms Redness And Reduces Irritation From An Incredible French Brand
Your new secret weapon against dry skin and tretinoin irritation? La Roche-Posay's Cicaplast Baume B5 Multi-Purpose Balm. With its propriety blend of panthenol, shea butter, and glycerin, this rich cream expertly provides superior hydration while instantly soothing dry, rough skin. It's very thick, so it's best used as an overnight treatment but don't worry, it's not oily or sticky.
3Best Sunscreen: A Sheer, Daily Moisturizer With SPF 40 And Hyaluronic Acid
The most important step in any skin care routine that includes tretinoin cream is sun protection. And when it comes to sunscreen, EltaMD's cult-favorite UV Daily Broad-Spectrum With SPF 40 is the best of the best. The formula not only offers serious UV protection that's sheer enough to be used under makeup, but it also contains hyaluronic acid to boost your skin's moisture content and hydrate dry skin all day.
4Best Organic Option: A Non-Comedogenic Lotion That's Rich In Skin-Soothing Antioxidants And Vitamins
If you want to supplement your use of tretinoin cream with a more natural moisturizer, try Juice Beauty's SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer. It's a lightweight, certified organic moisturizer with SPF 30 (to protect your skin from UV rays and further irritation) that can be used day or night. It also contains grape and pomegranate extracts, aloe vera, antioxidants, and sea algae, all of which work to restore moisture and make your look skin smooth, soft, and radiant.
5Best For Redness And Inflammation: A Fast-Absorbing Korean Gel Moisturizer That Cools On Contact
K-beauty brand Mizon makes this incredible Water Volume Aqua Gel Cream, a cooling gel moisturizer with plant extracts that penetrates the skin to soothe and protect it from dryness and damage. The freshness of this cream will provide instant relief from dry skin symptoms while its lightweight texture makes it great for everyday or use as a makeup primer. The formula contains natural, oil-free ingredients like Alaskan glacial water, watermelon extract, birch sap, and witch hazel to brighten, tone, and nourish all skin types.
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