Using Vitamin A Acid

Two weeks ago I wrote about Vitamin A and what super results this substance can have on the skin. The fact that your skin needs to get used to a product is a myth. But there is an exception in the case of Vitamin A Acid. If you apply too high a concentration every day your skin can become ‘overloaded’. Fortunately this can be avoided and I’ll explain how below.

Prevent irritation

Naturally it is very alluring knowing that an ingredient can rejuvenate your skin. But (unfortunately) this is not going to happen in a day and is a gradual process. Because active substances can cause serious irritation it is important to slowly build up their use. If you don’t do this and don’t listen to your skin then it can cause irritation. This can appear in different forms, such as redness, dryness, flaky skin, and burning. If you don’t take care with its use it can lead to the opposite effect being achieved; the Vitamin A Acid causes direct damage to the skin and consequently the skin prematurely ages!

The correct percentage of Tretinoin

Begin with a low percentage of Tretinoin and apply it to the skin two or three times per week. Is this all going well? Then you can increase the use. If you can use 0.02% every evening without any adverse reaction to your skin you can then increase the percentage to, for example, 0.05%. Does your skin react to this? Then you can either decrease the percentage or apply the same percentage less frequently. Tretinoin is obtainable in concentrations between 0.02% and 1.0%. The required concentration is different for each skin.


It is best not to use it in the morning! Tretinoin reacts to sunlight so apply it in the evening on a cleansed dry skin. When you first begin using Vitamin A Acid your skin will have difficulty retaining moisture. So be aware that your skin can become dried out. Apply a moisturiser alongside the Tretinoin and use when necessary to make sure your skin remains hydrated. The skin becomes thinner and is more sensitive to the sun so make sure it is well protected. Use a minimum of sun protection factor 15 daily.


The best results, when using Tretinoin, can be seen between eight and twelve months. From then on you can choose to reduce the use to two to three evenings per week. It is possible that your skin won’t respond at all . If after four months you still don’t see any change then the chances that your skin will respond to it are very small and you’ll be better off finding an alternative treatment.

When not to use?

Vitamin A Acid can dehydrate skin in people who have allergic reactions to skincare products, very dry skin or rosacea. People with skin type I and II (sensitive to the sun) can also have more of an adverse reaction. By keeping a close eye on your skin you can use this without a problem. Although there is no evidence that the use of creams containing Vitamin A Acid are harmful during pregnancy, oral use of Vitamin A Acid (such as in treatment for acne) can be. Therefore it is advisable for safety reasons to avoid using Vitamin A Acid during pregnancy.

Regards Jetske.

(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read the blogs: ‘Anti-Wrinkle Creams’,
‘Ingredients to Avoid’,
‘Ingredient Choice with Pigmentation’,
Do Anti-Oxidants Also Really Work in a Cream?‘,
‘Effects of Stress on Your Skin’,
‘The Recipe for Beautiful Skin’.

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