Alternating tretinoin cream (Retin A, Renova, retinol etc) with a glycolic cream at night?

Dear Dr Irwin, I know you are a big fan of tretinoin cream (vitamin A), and I have found it a fabulous product too. I\'ve noticed that your personal routine involves alternating vitamin A cream one night and 20% glycolic acid cream the next. In your opinion, is this routine preferable to vit A every night (and no glycolic)? I am interested in your thoughts as to what can be gained by this strategy. Thanks for your time. C

This is more for those interested in advanced skincare which you clearly are – glad you asked!  I actually don’t do this all the time.   For me, the very hydrating, emollient 20% hydroxy (glycolic in this case)  in the Vivite Night Renewal  acts to exfoliate on alternate nights and I think I get better penetration of the Renova as a result.   But 3 points to consider:

  • The higher strength glycolic is irritating for some including me (sometimes)  in combination with Renova –  so watch carefully.  If after a week or two of doing this, your skin seems dull – back off and only use the glycolic once or twice a week.
  • In any high sun situation, you don’t want to thin the outer, dead layer (the stratum corneum) too much, so stop the glycolic and the Renova about 1 week before a sunny vacation, for example.
  • I spend a LOT of time outdoors (swimming, biking, running etc.) in the summer here but not much in the winter ( the rain again…) sooooo, I stop the Vivite Night Renewal in the summer – using it maybe once a week.  I increase my Phloretin CF (antioxidant) and use double or triple sunscreening depending on what I’m doing.
  • In the summer, I stop the Renova and instead use the slightly weaker SkinMedica Retinol .25% for the summer 2-3 times a week.

Hope this makes sense and helps!  Dr. I


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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