Retinoids/Renova, etc – if it comes in a solution or pad, should I apply it first?

Dear Dr. Irwin, I’m 46 years old, completely new to retinoids & tonight began using three philosophy anti-aging products including pads soaked in a liquid retinoid solution that also contains antioxidants, skin conditioners & soothers. Having read your advice about using retinoid creams 10 minutes after moisturizing, I first applied the anti-aging concentrate & moisturizer and then waited before using my first retinoid pad. The liquid felt so light that I wonder if, in this case, I’d be better advised to use the retinoid pads/solution directly after cleansing and before the other two products? Thank you very kindly for any advice you can offer and for this extremely helpful web site. All the best.

Yes, good point, until recently they were all creams or lotions. The retinols that are soaked in pads and are solutions should be applied to cleansed skin first, allowed to dry and then other products. With the prescription creams, which are much more potent (and also more effective), most people are less irritated with moisturizing first, waiting about 10 minutes and then applying the cream.


For more information about great non prescription retinoids, try Skin Medica Tri-Retinol Complex.


Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

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

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!