How Long After Retinol Can I Apply Moisturizer (And Why)?

How Long After Retinol Can I Apply Moisturizer (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Twenty 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.

Retinol, 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 Retinol.

How Long After Retinol Can I Apply Moisturizer

How Long After Retinol Can I Apply Moisturizer?

Using a moisturizer with the Retinol 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 Retinol routine can be difficult. Generally, dermatologists prescribe moisturizers at least 20 minutes after a coat of the Retinol 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 Retinol 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 Retinol rest and be absorbed by the skin cells for a good period of twenty 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 Retinol.

EventsInformation regarding the events
Time after retinol to apply moisturizerTwenty Minutes

It is advised to wait for a minimum of twenty minutes after retinol to apply moisturizer. 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.

Why Does It Take That Long After Retinol To Apply Moisturizer?

Retinol 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 Retinol topical cream or gel is retinoid-based. As a result, it irritates all skin types, but most conspicuously the sensitive variant. Rashes, dry skin, flaky patches are common signs of irritated skin that result soon after the initial use of Retinol.

In such a scenario, using a moisturizer helps create a protective barrier for your skin. When Retinol 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. The twenty-minute gap between the two steps ensures that the Retinol is entirely 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 just beginning to use Retinol 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 Retinol, and finally, another layer of moisturizer after twenty minutes of applying the gel.


Overall, it can be concluded that Retinol is a well-known prescription-based medical cream. Synthetic vitamin A is the main ingredient in this topical cream, which helps rejuvenate the user’s skin. The Retinol formula is used by women worldwide to combat skin issues like dark spots, rough patches, etc. The catch with the product remains the use of a good moisturizer afterward.

On average, Moisturizers can be used by a Retinol user after about twenty minutes of the cream being applied. Within this time span, retinol ingredients 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 Retinol.


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21 thoughts on “How Long After Retinol Can I Apply Moisturizer (And Why)?”

  1. I always make sure to wait for 20 minutes after applying Retinol before I moisturize. It’s a crucial step for me!

  2. Avatar of Griffiths Claire
    Griffiths Claire

    I’ve experienced the redness and dryness after applying Retinol too soon. Waiting 20 minutes is definitely crucial.

  3. Using Retinol can be such a hassle, but it’s worth it for the benefits it provides to the skin

  4. I find it quite annoying to have to wait so long after applying Retinol to use moisturizer. But I understand the reasons behind it

  5. I didn’t realize that certain moisturizers could counteract the effects of Retinol. Good to know!

  6. I appreciate the detailed explanation of how Retinol works with moisturizers. It’s helpful to understand the process.

  7. I always try to take extra care with my skincare routine. 20 minutes for absorption is definitely something to keep in mind

  8. Waiting 20 minutes for a proper absorption makes sense. The science behind skincare is fascinating.

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