Can I layer my retinol cream with another moisturiser?

Ishtar Advice Clinic

Q. Can I layer a moisturiser over my retinol product? I find my skin needs extra moisture during winter.


A. Absolutely. It is perfectly fine to layer a moisturising cream over your retinol serum or lotion.

Recent research has shown that retinol is much more than a short term fix. Retinol will continue to help reduce wrinkles, refine skin texture, repair sun damage and reduce both acne and acne related scarring continuously over years of use. It therefore makes a lot of sense to make retinol part of your regular skincare routine. A few weeks worth of retinol treatments will certainly benefit your skin. But,  regular daily use over many months is where the power lies.

If your skin is feeling in need of an extra moisture boost, don’t switch out the retinol. Rather, supplement the retinol with an application of an additional moisturiser. In fact, many dermatologists recommend mixing prescription retinoids with a lotion before application.

Having said that there are a few points to remember when using retinol. Most importantly, acid based treatment creams (such as those formulated with glycolic, mandelic or salicylic acid),  can interfere with how the skin converts retinol. By all means use acid based skin care products whilst using retinol — research has shown that using acid based products increases the benefits of retinol treatments. However, it is best not to apply these two treatments at exactly the same time. Use your acid based products in the morning, and your retinol products at night.

If you wish to use a night cream containing either acid based ingredients or vitamin c (which competes with retinol in the skin pathways) the best thing to do is to alternate the two products, using one product the first night and one the next.  Your products will go further this way, and you can be confident that you are gaining the maximum potency at each application.