How Long After Applying Tretinoin Can I Moisturize (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 20 minutes

Moisturizing your skin after an intense skincare routine is important. This step helps soothe the skin and hydrate it. Finding the perfect moisturizer will be dependent on the skin type of an individual. Generally, moisturizers are used after the other skincare products are applied and have had enough time to be absorbed well into the skin tissue.

Tretinoin, on the other, hand, is a medical concoction that helps assuage acne and skin burns. It is sold in the market in the form of a gel or a cream. The medicinal properties of this prescription-based cream also help reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  It is important to use a moisturizer after using Tretinoin.

How Long After Applying Tretinoin Can I Moisturize

How Long After Applying Tretinoin Can I Moisturize?

Using a moisturizer with the Tretinoin routine is mandatory. If one misses this crucial step, the effects on the individual’s skin will be far from perfect. However, it is seminal to know when to use the moisturizer when using a topical cream or gel. Selecting a perfect time for the application of a moisturizer on a Tretinoin routine can be difficult.

Generally, dermatologists prescribe the use of moisturizers at least 20 minutes after a coat of the Tretinoin cream or gel is applied. It is best to plan out and divide the routine into steps. This helps remember the correct way of progressing with the task. Start by cleansing your face thoroughly. Follow this step by applying a pea-sized drop of the Tretinoin cream or gel on your dry face.

Gently massage the cream on the affected areas. Within a couple of minutes, the cream will be blended with the outer layer of the skin. Let this layer of Tretinoin rest and be absorbed by the skin cells for a good period of 20 minutes. If the weather is more humid, it may take a couple of extra minutes to be fully absorbed.

Certain moisturizers may irritate or further aggravate existing skin conditions. It is important to find one that suits your needs and works well with Tretinoin. Alcohol-based moisturizers or ones that contain benzoyl peroxide can cause more harm to your skin than good. Thus, it is best to avoid these formulas. Always invest in one that keeps the skin supple without resulting in excess sebum production.


In Summary:

Step in the RoutineWaiting Time
Moisturizing the Skin After Tretinoin20 minutes

Why Do You Have To Wait So Long After Tretinoin To Moisturize?

Tretinoin works by irritating the skin cells. It initiates the production of new cells by accelerating growth. However, this process causes skin irritations and mild to moderate discomfort in novice users of the cream. Thus, applying a layer of a well-suited moisturizer is important after the routine.

The Tretinoin topical cream or gel is retinoid-based. As a result, it irritates all skin types, but most conspicuously the sensitive variant. When using retinol in skin products, it takes a while to get one’s skin accustomed to the strength of the chemical. Rashes, redness, dry skin, flaky patches are common signs of irritated skin that result soon after the initial use of Tretinoin.

In such a scenario, using a moisturizer helps create a protective barrier for your skin. When Tretinoin is used with a moisturizer, it gets soaked into the deeper layers of the skin to work wonders, while the top layer is prevented from becoming dry and flaky. This also prevents redness and skin rashes.

Moisturize cream

The 20-minute gap between the two steps is to ensure that the Tretinoin is completely absorbed by the patient’s skin. If the moisturizer is applied too soon after the topical gel, the effects of the treatment will be diluted. It is important to wait until the product has favorably penetrated the inner dermis of the skin.

Sometimes, dermatologists suggest that patients who are just beginning to use Tretinoin should use it in a sandwich manner. This implies that they can safeguard their skin against damage by first applying a layer of moisturizer, followed by the prescribed dose of Tretinoin, and finally, another layer of moisturizer after 20 minutes of applying the gel.


Tretinoin is a well-known prescription-based medical cream. Synthetic vitamin A is the main ingredient in this topical cream, which helps rejuvenate the skin of the user. The Tretinoin formula is used by women all over the world to combat skin issues like dark spots, rough patches, etc. The catch with the product remains the use of a good moisturizer afterward.

Moisturizers can be used by a Tretinoin user after about 20 minutes of the cream being applied. Within this time span, the ingredients of Tretinoin are absorbed into the dermis and epidermis of the skin, making it ready for moisturization. Some people also prefer to moisturize both before and after applying Tretinoin.


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