How to use

What are the side effects?

Good news! Side effects can be greatly minimized with great instructions and proper use (e.g. appropriate strength level for your skin type, applying oil-free moisturizer, etc.). Some common side effects of retinoids are sensitivity, peeling, or redness. When first starting to use retinoids, retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. We advise using sun protection (but we’re assuming you’re already doing that, right?). Keep in mind, after a few months of use, your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal.

For those prone to acne, there may be a two to four week “purging” period where you experience acne breakouts before your skin clears up. Patience is key. 

Over the past 40+ years, no systemic side-effects or risks on the long-term treatment of topical retinoids have been observed.

At DearBrightly, we don’t accept those who are pregnant or nursing. It’s not proven that topical retinoids are 100% safe for pregnant or nursing women. 

How can I minimize any side effects?

Here are pro tips for getting the best experience when using your retinoid:

  • Do not use more than a dime-size amount
  • Using more than a dime-size will increase your risk of dryness, irritation, and redness. It does not increase efficacy. 
  • Start off once a week
  • If your skin is new to retinoids or you’re starting on a higher strength, start off by applying your retinoid once a week and gradually increase to nightly as your skin learns to tolerate. 
  • Moisturize
  • Always use an oil-free moisturizer right after applying your retinoid to prevent dryness.
  • Use sunscreen
  • At first retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, but after a few months your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal. Always make sure to apply SPF daily (important regardless to prevent photoaging). 
  • Apply when skin is completely dry
  • When your skin is wet after washing your face, it absorbs the retinoids more readily.

What skin care products should I avoid when using retinoids?

Since benzoyl peroxide is known to decrease the stability of your retinoid, benzoyl peroxide and other topical antibiotics should be applied in the morning and your retinoid applied in the evening.

Also, abrasive cleansers (e.g., face wash with glycolic or AHA/BHA acids) can make the skin more sensitive by damaging the epidermal barrier and should be avoided when using your retinoid. 

Do retinoids make you more sensitive to the sun?

When first starting to use retinoids, photosensitivity can occur, especially if used during the daytime. At DearBrightly, we only instruct retinoid use at nighttime. Nevertheless, sunscreen to the rescue! Make sure to apply your sunscreen every day. After a few months, your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal.

Will I experience hair loss or liver damage after long-term use of retinoids? 

No. There have been no side effects for either hair loss or liver damage resulting from long-term use of topical retinoids.

Do retinoids thin your skin?

No. While they decrease the layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, they have been proven to increase collagen production to actually thicken your skin.

Do retinoids cause skin cancer? 

No. Long-term studies do not suggest that the treatment of topical retinoids causes skin cancer. There are however inconclusive studies that suggest retinoids help treat or prevent skin cancer. The jury is still out.

When should I not use a retinoid?

You should not use retinoids if you are nursing, pregnant, or plan to get pregnant. 

What if I unintentionally become pregnant while using retinoids?

You should discontinue using your retinoid as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, and contact your medical provider through the portal.