Cheat Sheet – How to use a vitamin A product

My most frequently-asked-questions have all been about retinol in recent weeks. I thought I would answer the most popular questions, both on social media and in the comments section on here, so that I only have to so it once.

How do I use vitamin a products?

Brands will all give you instructions on the packaging, and whilst there will always be exceptions, the key things to remember are:

  • Vitamin A (retinols to the majority of you) go onto the skin after cleansing
  • You can use other products, but they go on afterwards
  • Don’t apply a lot thinking it will work faster. It won’t. Save your money. And your skin. Apply a small pea-sized amount, or in the case of an oil, a few drops, not an entire pipette.
  • Don’t overdo it. The results can be very alarming – in a good way – almost overnight. Don’t be tempted to think more is more. It isn’t. In the case of vitamin a, and especially if you have not used them before, less is more. Every 3rd night, moving to every 2nd night. Unless a brand specifically says differently.


I have been using vitamin a products a long time. If I know I’m using an OTC vitamin A product in the evening, I cleanse, sometimes acid tone (although less so with a stronger formula), spritz, leave a gap for my skin to dry, then use my retinoid. If, however, I’m using a prescription strength retinoid, I cleanse and then apply the cream. If in doubt, apply your retinol after cleansing, leave it on for 20-30 minutes by itself and then follow with your moisturisers etc

I usually follow it with a soothing moisturiser. I love them. They are easily the best products for fighting signs of ageing. Everyone should use one. They are worth the faff. Just use them correctly.

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