POSTED: 24 Jun 2023

The Best Moisturisers to use with Tretinoin for Every Skin Type

Tretinoin, is highly effective in treating acne, hyperpigmentation and signs of ageing. It is a powerful skincare ingredient and a massive all-rounder. Yet, it can also cause dryness and irritation due to its potency. You can help reduce irritation and purging by using a good moisturiser at night to lock-in moisture and protect your skin barrier. We’re going to explore why you should consider using a moisturiser cream with Tretinoin, what to look for and our top picks of moisturiser creams to use with tretinoin for different skin types.

Benefits of Pairing a Moisturising Cream with Tretinoin at Night

The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin and it functions to prevent the loss of moisture while keeping harmful substances and bacteria out. Skin sensitivity and irritation are common signs of disruption of the skin barrier. This leads to increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Factors like environmental stressors, allergens, over-exfoliation and harsh skincare products can all compromise this barrier and cause TEWL. This leads to dehydrated skin, which can be sensitive, irritated and prone to inflammation.

Tretinoin accelerates the skin’s cellular turnover. This can inadvertently weaken the skin barrier, especially during initial use which increases TEWL. This is why many people often complain of dryness, redness and sensitivity when first starting Tretinoin.

Moisturisers can play a critical role in managing these side effects. They contain ingredients that replenish moisture and reinforce the skin barrier hence reducing TEWL. This helps reduce skin sensitivity and irritation. That’s why, when combined with Tretinoin, a night-time moisturiser can soothe and hydrate the skin hence preventing dryness and flaking. The great thing is that it doesn’t take long to notice the effects of using a moisturiser with Tretinoin cream at night. With just a few days of regular use, you’ll wake up to smoother, brighter, juicier and bouncier skin!

What to Look For in a Moisturiser?

Look for moisturisers that have ingredients from each of these three key categories of skin moisturising. The troica of of moisture are hydrators, emollients and occlusives. These will help you select the best moisturiser cream to use with Tretinoin.

Hydrating ingredients, also known as humectants, grab onto water and hold it in the skin. This allows the skin to absorb and hold onto the moisture, promoting a well-hydrated, plump, and youthful appearance. Great humectants include glycerol, hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, propylene glycol and butylene glycol.

Emollients in a moisturiser serve to soften and smooth the skin. They work by filling in the tiny crevices between skin cells that are peeling or flaking off. This creates a smoother and more refined skin surface. They can also help reinforce the skin’s natural lipid barrier hence protecting against environmental stressors and preventing TEWL. Some great examples of emollients include squalene, ceramides, shea butter and synthetic compounds like isopropyl palmitate and decyl oleate.

Lastly, occlusives act as a physical barrier that locks in moisture and prevents water from evaporating from the skin’s surface. They essentially create a seal over the skin to reduce TEWL, which is especially beneficial in dry environments or during the night when the skin tends to lose the most moisture. The most common occlusives include petrolatum, silicones like dimethicone, beeswax and mineral oil. Squalene and Ceramides also have some occlusive properties.

The Best Moisturiser creams for Tretinoin

Normal Skin

Normal skin is generally well-balanced, meaning it’s neither too dry nor too oily. Your moisturiser should uphold this balance, providing just the right amount of hydration and nourishment without causing oiliness or dryness. When it comes to normal skin, the main goal is to preserve its natural balance. As such, a well-formulated moisturiser with a balance of hydrating, emollient, and occlusive ingredients can work alongside Tretinoin to keep your skin healthy and glowing.

These are some of our favourite pairings of moisturising creams with Tretinoin:

  • Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Overnight Face Mask: This gel-cream contains a blend of brightening ingredients as well as hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help hydrate and protect the skin.
  • SUMMER FRIDAYS Jet Lag Mask: This is a lightweight overnight mask that helps to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. It contains a blend of hydrating ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, watermelon extract, and glycerin, as well as caffeine to help reduce the appearance of puffiness. 
  • Typology Firming Night Mask with Organic Prickly Pear Oil: This lightweight oil-free cream helps to firm and hydrate the skin. It contains prickly pear oil, which is a natural source of antioxidants and fatty acids, as well as hyaluronic acid and peptides to help improve the skin’s elasticity.
  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Face Mask: This mask is a lightweight, gel-cream that helps to hydrate and soothe the skin. It contains squalane, which is a natural oil that helps to lock in moisture, as well as hyaluronic acid and glycerin to help hydrate the skin.
  • CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream: This is a rich, nourishing cream that helps to repair and protect the skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides to help hydrate, brighten, and protect the skin.
  • Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream: This is a rich nourishing cream that helps to restore the skin’s natural barrier. It contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and allantoin to help hydrate and soothe the skin.

Sensitive Skin

Using a moisturiser with Tretinoin is essential if you have sensitive skin because you’re particularly at risk of irritation. Look for products free from common irritants such as fragrances, dyes, and harsh chemicals. Instead, focus on those packed with calming ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and calendula. Emollients like ceramides can help restore the skin’s barrier thereby reducing sensitivity. Hyaluronic acid, can soothe and moisturise without causing further irritation. Occlusives, are also essential to create a protective layer over your skin and seal in moisture.

These are some of our favourite pairings of moisturising creams with Tretinoin:

  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: This is a rich moisturising cream that is ideal for dry and sensitive skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and colloidal oatmeal, which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.
  • Aveeno Ultra-Calming Nourishing Night Cream: This cream is formulated with oat extract, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides, which all help to soothe and protect sensitive skin.
  • Vanicream Moisturizing Cream: This cream is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic, making it a good choice for sensitive skin. 
  • Avene Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream: This is designed for sensitive skin that is prone to irritation. It is fragrance-free and contains allantoin, which helps to soothe and calm the skin.
  • La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5: This is a rich, non-greasy balm that is ideal for soothing and repairing irritated skin. It contains shea butter, glycerin and panthenol which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.

Mature Skin

Pairing the right moisturiser cream with Tretinoin is all about addressing the unique needs of this skin type. Mature skin typically experiences a natural decrease in oil production. This causes dryness and exacerbates the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. This can also make the skin more susceptible to the drying effects of Tretinoin.

Look for moisturisers packed with ingredients that nourish and hydrate the skin, as well as those that help to restore its natural barrier. Hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or aloe vera can deeply moisturise the skin, plumping it up, and minimising the appearance of wrinkles. In addition to hydration, mature skin can benefit from ingredients with anti-ageing properties. Peptides and niacinamide are some examples that can boost collagen production and improve skin elasticity. Antioxidants like vitamin C or vitamin E can protect your skin against environmental damage that accelerates skin ageing.

Here are our favourite night moisturisers for ageing skin:

  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream: This is a basic but effective moisturiser that is perfect for dry or aging skin. It contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.
  • Weleda Skin Food Original: This is a thick, nourishing cream that contains a blend of plant oils and butters, including shea butter, almond oil and jojoba oil. These all help to hydrate and protect the skin. It is however fragranced, but the fragrance is natural and not overwhelming.
  • Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream: This is a rich moisturising cream. It contains a blend of ceramides, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, which all help to hydrate, protect and repair the skin barrier.
  • Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream: This cream is a cult favourite for its ability to hydrate and protect the skin. It contains a blend of ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid which all help to restore the skin’s natural barrier.
  • Eucerin Urea Repair Night Cream: This cream is ideal for dry or aging skin that is prone to itching or discomfort. It contains 10% urea, which helps to exfoliate the skin and improve moisture retention.

Acne-Prone Skin

Acne-prone skin tends to produce excess sebum, which can lead to clogged pores and subsequent breakouts. Additionally, the skin can still be sensitive, especially when using Tretinoin, which can cause dryness and irritation as side effects. This makes finding a balance between managing oil production, maintaining hydration and avoiding irritation a key focus.

Look for hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin to help maintain skin moisture without adding oil. Occlusives might not be suitable for all acne-prone skin types, especially those with very oily skin, but ingredients such as squalene, a natural component of human sebum, can be beneficial due to its lightweight, non-greasy texture. Emollients such as ceramides can help repair the skin barrier, which is often compromised in acne-prone skin. Ingredients with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties such as aloe vera or green tea extract can soothe the skin and reduce acne-causing bacteria.

These are some of our favourite pairings of moisturising creams with Tretinoin for acne-prone skin:

  • Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Mask: This mask is a great option for those with acne-prone skin because it is non-comedogenic and contains antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation. It also contains hyaluronic acid and peptides which can help to hydrate and plump the skin. It can however feel a little greasy but it is not heavy.
  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Face Mask: This mask is a lightweight gel-cream that is perfect for those with oily or acne-prone skin. It contains hyaluronic acid and squalane, which can help to hydrate the skin without clogging pores. It also contains allantoin, which can help to soothe and calm irritated skin.
  • Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask: This mask is a great option for those with acne-prone skin because it contains salicylic acid, which can help to exfoliate and clear away dead skin cells. It also contains hyaluronic acid and peptides, which can help to hydrate and plump the skin.
  • Eucerin Vanicream Moisturising Cream: This cream is a basic but effective moisturiser that is perfect for acne-prone skin. It is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free, making it a good choice for sensitive skin. It also contains ceramides, which can help to restore the skin’s natural barrier.
  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA: This is a lightweight moisturiser that contains a blend of amino acids, fatty acids and hyaluronic acid. These all help to hydrate and protect the skin. 

Oily Skin

Choosing a moisturiser for oily skin to use with Tretinoin can seem a bit counter-intuitive. After all, if your skin naturally produces excess oil, you might think that the last thing you want is to add more moisture and risk looking shiny or developing acne. However, when using tretinoin, which can dry and irritate the skin, even those with oily skin types need to make sure their skin is properly hydrated to maintain skin health and balance. Opt for formulas that can provide the necessary hydration without feeling heavy or greasy. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin which boost hydration without adding oiliness. Emollients like squalene can be beneficial due to their lightweight, non-greasy nature. They also act as non-greasy occlusives.

These are our top picks for oily skin moisturising creams to pair with Tretinoin:

  • Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Mask: This cream is non-comedogenic and contains antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation and boost radiance. It also contains hyaluronic acid and peptides, which can help to hydrate and plump the skin.
  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Face Mask: This is a lightweight gel-cream. It contains hyaluronic acid, squalane and allantoin.
  • Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Mask: This is contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and regulate oil. It also has hyaluronic acid and peptides, which can help to hydrate the skin.
  • Eucerin Vanicream Moisturising Cream: This is a basic but effective moisturiser particularly for those with irritated or inflamed skin. It contains ceramides, which can help to restore the skin’s natural barrier.
  • Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream: This is a lightweight gel-cream that contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and panthenol, which all help to hydrate the skin without clogging pores. It also contains madecassoside, which can help to soothe and calm irritated skin.

Dry Skin

Choosing a moisturiser for dry skin to use in conjunction with Tretinoin is absolutely crucial. This is because dry skin lacks natural oils and often struggles to retain moisture. As such, it can be more prone to irritation and sensitivity, especially when using potent topical treatments like Tretinoin. When choosing a moisturiser for dry skin, opt for rich, hydrating formulas that can deeply nourish your skin and provide a strong moisture barrier.

Cream or oil-based moisturisers are usually a good choice for dry skin, as they can supply necessary oils and lock in hydration. Look for moisturisers with high concentrations of hydrating ingredients. These can attract and hold onto water molecules, offering a powerful boost of hydration to parched skin. Emollient ingredients like squalene, ceramides and shea butter can help replenish your skin’s natural lipids and improve its ability to retain moisture. Occlusives, such as petrolatum or beeswax, create a physical barrier on the skin that seals in hydration and protects it from external factors. These ingredients are especially beneficial for dry skin, as they can help prevent TEWL. Additionally, soothing ingredients like chamomile or centella asiatica can help calm any potential irritation from Tretinoin.

Here are some our favourite night creams for dry skin:

  • CeraVe Moisturising Cream: This cream is a rich, non-greasy moisturiser that is perfect for dry skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide, which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.
  • Weleda Skin Food Original: This cream is a cult favorite famed for its ability to hydrate and protect dry skin. It contains a blend of natural oils and butters, which help to lock in moisture and soothe the skin. It is however fragranced so not great if you don’t like scented products.
  • Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream: This cream is a lightweight moisturiser that is perfect for dry skin that is prone to irritation. It contains a blend of ceramides, peptides and squalane, which help to restore the skin’s natural barrier and protect it from damage.
  • Avene Cicalfate Restorative Cream: This is a thick, nourishing cream that is perfect for dry, irritated skin. It contains a blend of active ingredients, including zinc oxide, copper sulfate, and bisabolol, which help to soothe, protect and repair the skin.
  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration: This another rich nourishing cream that is perfect for dry, damaged skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and colloidal oatmeal, which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.

Combination Skin

Finding a moisturiser for combination skin to use with Tretinoin requires a delicate balance. Combination skin is typically characterised by an oily T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and drier cheeks. This means you’ll need a moisturiser that’s capable of addressing both dryness and oiliness without exacerbating either condition.

Look for moisturisers with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin that can deliver a dose of hydration without feeling heavy or oily. Emollients like squalene or jojoba oil are beneficial as they can mimic the skin’s natural sebum, providing hydration and softness without clogging pores or promoting oiliness. These ingredients can help to replenish lipids in the drier areas of your face, maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Occlusives might not be as necessary for combination skin, but if used, they should be non-comedogenic. Dimethicone is a good example as it can seal in moisture without leading to breakouts.

Here are some of our favourite picks for combination skin moisturising creams to pair with Tretinoin:

  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturising Factors + HA: This is a lightweight moisturiser that contains a blend of amino acids, fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid, which all help to hydrate and protect the skin.
  • Illiyoon Ceramide Ato Concentrate Cream: This is a rich cream that contains ceramides, which help to restore the skin’s natural barrier. It also has allantoin which helps to soothe and protect the skin.
  • Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream: This is a lightweight cream that contains centella asiatica, which helps to soothe and protect the skin. It also has niacinamide which helps to brighten the skin.
  • Innisfree Brightening & Pore-Caring Sleeping Mask: This gel-cream is a lightweight overnight mask that helps to brighten and hydrate the skin. It contains a blend of brightening ingredients, including niacinamide and adenosine, as well as hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help hydrate and protect the skin.
  • Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturiser: This cream is a lightweight moisturiser. It contains a blend of peptides, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid to help hydrate, plump and protect the skin.

Using a moisturiser alongside your Tretinoin cream is an excellent way to combat potential dryness and irritation, particularly when applied at night. Pairing the right moisturising creams with Tretinoin might involve some trial and error, but this guide should serve as a solid starting point based on your skin type. Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, and it’s essential to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional if you have concerns or specific skin problems. Stay tuned for more skincare tips and product recommendations on our blog!

If you’re interested in prescription skincare treatments for skin ageing, acne, melasma and hyperpigmentation, contact us today to schedule your consultation and take your first step towards better skin.

Sources

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
BSC (HONS) MBBS MRCS PHD
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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