I’ve tried nearly every recommended moisturizer to use with Retin a or it’s Micro counterpart. I’ve run into issues with many of them, so I hope I can help you avoid the same mistakes that I’ve made. I don’t know if this has any merit, or science behind it, but I’ve found that using moisturizers with little or no water provides the best results. My assumption to why this is the case is that with retin a, you must wait 30 minutes to an hours after washing your face to apply it. This is because applying retin a on a wet face causes more adverse reactions than on a completely dry face. I assume that its not a good idea to wash your face, let it dry 30-60 mins, apply retin a and then applying water on top. What would be the point of letting your face dry completely, and them immediately adding a water based moisturizer on top?
With that being said, adding a moisturizer on top of retin a can significantly decrease the side effects. The biggest side effects of retin a are dryness, peeling, and irritation. So of course, moisturizer helps combat these reactions.
I have found that both Cerave cream, and jojoba oil are the best moisturizers to use when using retin a. Jojoba oil has no water, since it is pure oil. This oil also is molecularly similar to the oil your face naturally produces, so how could you go wrong? Cerave cream does have some water in it, but it is low on the ingredients list unlike many other lotions. Cerave also contains ceramides that help restore the skins natural barrier. One of the best things about this cream is that its thick, heavy, yet non comedogenic and non irritating which is crucial for skin treated with retin a.
If you are using retin a, I highly, highly suggest using cerave in combination with it!