5 Moisturizers to Use After Retinol to Prevent Dry Skin
We don’t typically recommend trying any skin-care product without doing your research first, and this is especially true with retinol. The powerful ingredient offers numerous skin benefits (it can help treat acne, prevent and minimize signs of aging and even out skin tone and texture), but when used incorrectly, it can also cause irritation and dryness. This is why using a nourishing moisturizer after a retinol product is key. To find out what to look for in a post-retinol moisturizer, we asked Dr. Caren Campbell, a San Francisco-based board-certified dermatologist for her best tips.
How to Use Retinol
To prevent and minimize adverse effects, it’s important to ease into retinol and choose a formula with a low percentage of the ingredient to start, a process called retinizing the skin. “I always encourage patients to go ‘low and slow’ with retinol,” says Dr. Campbell. “This means using a pea-sized amount one to two nights per week and then upping the frequency every two to four weeks as tolerated.”
Why Applying a Moisturizer Is a Must Post-Retinol
Even if you go “low and slow,” retinol can be drying, especially as your skin gets used to it. “Moisturize on top of the retinol to help with the dryness, especially around the mouth, which is where many patients experience the most significant irritation and dryness,” says Dr. Campbell.
What to Look for in a Post-Retinol Moisturizer
Dr. Campbell recommends looking for hydrating and skin-strengthening formulas with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peptides and ceramides in your moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrator, she says, while products with ceramides help restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.
She also suggests using a formula that’s fragrance-free (to prevent further irritation) and non-comedogenic (to avoid clogging pores).
Moisturizers to Use After Retinol
With Dr. Campbell’s recommendations in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite moisturizing formulas to apply after retinol.
One formula that checks all of Dr. Campbell’s boxes above is the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. It contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, and it is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.
With a high concentration of niacinamide, Dr. Campbell says that this emulsion “helps calm inflammation and fade red and brown spots,” in addition to providing hydration.
For a hydrating treatment, follow retinol with an overnight mask like this one from Klairs, with vitamin E, a proven antioxidant, along with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
This night cream is fragrance-free and allergy-tested for sensitive skin. Formulated with thermal water, shea butter and an antioxidant complex, it works to soothe, comfort and moisturize skin.
If you prefer layering your retinol with a hydrating serum instead of a moisturizer, try this one from Dr. Campbell’s skin-care line, CCMD. It contains fractionated hyaluronic acid (i.e., smaller molecules that can penetrate the skin deeply) and peptides.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn