Can You Use Retin-A and Antioxidants

Episode #180 / Apr 12, 2010
We often receive questions about what Retin A can be used in conjunction with. Recently we were asked, "can you use Retin A and antioxidants?" Dr. Schultz answers this important question.
S on April 14, 2010 at 8:23pm

I use Differin 0.3 and Tazorac 0.05% Gel every other night. When can I use my SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF then, if I shouldn't use antioxidants in the morning?

Sarah on May 18, 2010 at 5:18pm

Hi Dr. Schultz,

Thanks for this video. I've tried to take a closer look at the ingredients in antioxidant treatments, and noticed that many of them also contain some sort of acid in addition to the L-ascorbic acid.

Based on your previous antioxidant video, I'm looking for Vitamin C products that contain Methylsilanol Ascorbate or Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C). But in order to be able to use the product effectively with the retinoid at night, do I need to make sure that the product doesn't contain any additional acid? Or are glycolic and salicylic acid the only ones I should be worried about?

Should products with any of the following ingredients also be ruled out: ferulic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid, hyaluronic acid, or lactobionic acid?

I suspect this might have something to do with the PH balance of the acids, but I'm having trouble remembering back to high school chemistry.

Thank you as always for your help!

Neal Schultz, M.D. on May 31, 2010 at 11:35pm

@Sarah: The short answer is you only need to avoid alpha and beta hydroxy acids with your retinoids. The other acids you mentioned, as you suspected, are sufficiently weak to probably not aversely affect the retinoid.

Neal Schultz, M.D. on June 1, 2010 at 12:53am

@S: I don't see any conflict between retinoids and SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, but if you're concerned, you should contact SkinCeuticals.

nana on June 14, 2010 at 2:27am

So if I wash my face with a salicylic acid cleanser, can I apply a retiond as to my face after washing the cleanser off?

Neal Schultz, M.D. on June 28, 2010 at 8:16pm

@nana: Yes, you can use a retinoid after washing with a salicylic acid cleanser because the salicylic acid is rinsed off the skin with the rest of the cleanser. But, I suggest using a toner after the cleanser just to help ensure complete removal of the salicylic acid and the other components of the cleanser. For more information on toners, watch What Do Toners and Astringents Do.