Retinoids in the Fall/Winter Season: How to Manage Dryness



Vitamin A, aka Retinoids, have long been a staple in skincare and are widely used as an effective treatment for aging skin and acne among other concerns. They work by increasing cellular turnover, differentiation, and more. This leads to a reduction in wrinkles, texture, acne, and increases collagen production. To gain a deeper understanding of Vitamin A and how it affects your skin, read our Retinol Blog here.


While retinoids are crucial to an effective regimen, the acclimation process can be a challenge especially during the cooler months when our skin is dry. We call this process retinization; while your skin adjusts you can anticipate some degree of dryness, irritation, possible purging (breakouts) and sensitivity, especially during the fall and winter seasons. In this blog post, I will explain how to manage the side effects, acclimate to your retinol routine, and keep your skin vibrant and healthy. Skincare is incredibly nuanced, and there is no one size fits all for this process, however these general guidelines will steer you in the right direction. For a personalized routine you should always opt for working with a professional to be sure that you’re on the right track and reaping the benefits.


Sun Protection – You already knew this was coming, huh? The importance of light protection can’t be overstated, even in the cooler months. Light is always present during the day, therefore sunscreen and UPF protection are always needed. Apply sunscreen that contains an SPF of 30 or higher. At least every two hours. Every day. All year round. This will help with the treatment and prevention of sun damage, protect collagen, and it helps your skin to function optimally to make retinization more comfortable. Despite common myths, retinoids are not photosensitizing and don’t need to be discontinued in the summertime. The summer is actually a great time to begin or increase your dose of vitamin A, as skin is less dry which makes the process smoother.


Start Slow – Dryness, peeling, and sensitivity are all anticipated responses to retinoids, but you can make the process more tolerable by using a step-up regimen. The frequency, dose of product, and timeline for the step-up plan depends on the form of vitamin A that you’re using and what your tolerance is. Generally it’s best to begin by applying a small amount a few times a week, and then gradually increase the frequency over time, followed by increasing the dose. This gradual process will lessen the severity of any adverse side effects.


Manage Your Moisture – Another important aspect of minimizing dryness and irritation is managing your TEWL, aka transepidermal water loss. This can be done both topically and through your environment. Opt for functional moisturizers that will assist your skin barrier and deep hydration such as Skin Ceuticals Triple Lipid Restore or Sente Dermal Repair Cream (Specific product reccomendations are always more successful than general advice, so I recommend booking a product consultation). Humidifiers help with maintaining moisture in the air and mitigating TEWL. To avoid excess dryness, always shoot for lukewarm water in the shower rather than hot. It’s hard in the winter, I know, but your skin will thank you! ♡


Work With a Pro – Skincare is personal, and more often than not the answer to general questions will be “it depends”. This is why most generalized advice isn’t helpful, because there are always multiple factors at play. Compliance tends to be low with retinoids, because the retinization process is difficult to navigate without a professional by your side for guidance and support. It’s important to know when to push through the discomfort, when to pull back, when you need moisture, exfoliation, etc. Having an skincare professional in your corner makes for a much more comfortable and successful retinol journey.


Retinoids are an effective method for anti-aging and improving skin quality, but there is also an art and a science to adjusting to them. Using retinoids in the fall and winter takes a combination of patience, consistency, and proper adjustments to your skin care routine. Working with your esthetician is always the best choice in order to strategically and successfully achieve your skincare goals.


TLDR; Book a consultation with your favorite estheticians at Sapien. See you in the treatment room!


We got you. XOXO, 


Leave a Reply