For pigment problems – in which order should you use your products?

I would like to try a product to reduce brown spots, but am unsure where it fits into my nighttime routine, as I also use .025% retin A. Thank you

In my opinion, below is the optimum order.  If you are using Triluma, it replaces the evening step 3 because it has tretinoin in it already.   If you are using a plain hydroquinone cream, use it between Step 2 & 3.   If anything causes irritation, stop it and see your dermatologist.    See the products below here.


  1. Gentle cleanser (over scrubbing makes pigment worse)
  2. A potent antioxidant (they have been shown to decrease pigment over time)
  3. Moisturizer if needed (dry skin is more easily irritated which makes pigment worse
  4. Double sunscreen layer with at least 10-20% zinc (no sunscreen blocks UVA perfectly but zinc is the best at it)
  5. A hat whenever possible


  1. Gentle cleanser
  2. A plant based skin lightener/brightener –  delete this step if using hydroquinones
  3. A gentle Vit A cousin – a retinoid (these help the pigment move out of the skin faster and disperse more evenly) A prescription version is fine also but make sure    you don’t get irritated – irritation makes pigment problems worse.
  4. Moisturizer – Use the moisturizer first if retinoids tend to irritate you.

Remember that cell growth factors, peptides and other marketed products have not been shown to help with pigment and are just marketing

Hope this helps, Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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