How to use Retin-A and Alpha Hydroxy Acid

How to use Retin-A and Alpha Hydroxy AcidIn the anti-aging cosmetics community, everyone touts the benefits of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid, glycolic acids and Retin-A. They are used as main ingredients in almost every anti-aging product to boost the skin’s collagen levels. Retin-A and alpha hydroxy acid have different functions: that is why they are considered a powerful combination to improve the skin’s tone, texture and firmness. Retin-A on its own irritates the skin, but alpha hydroxy acid balances everything out.

If you are including these two in your skincare regimen, but don’t know how to use them, then these are the steps you need to take:


Step 1:

Wash and cleanse your face so that you have a clean slate to work on. Any dirt, grime, oiliness or makeup that is there should be gently removed for better absorption of the retin-A and alpha hydroxy acid. Cleanse your face with a milky cleanser and a cotton swab. If you have oily or combination skin, then just use a toner (preferably tea tree based).


Step 2

Apply the product that contains alpha hydroxy acid first. Most of them should include glycolic acid and lactic acid that helps stimulate and exfoliate the skin. Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells so that the upper layer of the skin is renewed and rejuvenated. Don’t be surprised or scared if you feel a slight tingling or irritating sensation on the skin. It is a normal side effect in all of these acid based products.


Step 3

Wait for half an hour for the skin to completely absorb the alpha hydroxy acid because if you apply retin-A immediately after, the effects will be minimized and you will not get the results that you desire.


Step 4

Retin-A is a vitamin A derivative ingredient and is also known as tretinoin cream. It doesn’t exfoliate the skin like alpha hydroxy acid does and that makes it a good combination to use because they balance each other out. Retin-A helps to produce new skin cells from deep within the skin.



  • You don’t necessarily have to use these products one after the other. You can use Alpha hydroxy acid cream in your daytime skincare regimen and use retin-A at night. Since these products make your skin more sensitive in the sun, it is best to use them separately. Always make sure to apply sunscreen before applying any of these products in the day.


  • Use a sun block that contains at least SPF 50 and zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.


  • If your skin becomes really irritated or dry, decrease the amount or frequency with which you use these products. It is preferred you do a patch test on the skin before you start using them.


If you use these products consistently, you can achieve the desired look for your skin. It is recommended to stop using them when you are satisfied with the result.




Don’t use any other skin irritating products (peel off masks, scrubs, astringents etc) that would make your use of alpha hydroxy acid and retin-A dangerous for your skin.  Always consult a good dermatologist before trying out new skincare treatments and products.


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