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One of the most frequent questions I got after doing my videos about retinoids (Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Retinoids here and How to minimize retinol irritation here) was how my ACTUAL night time skincare routine looked like.
Not in theory, but in detail. Every individual product. My step by step routine, so to speak. Well, here you go. Today we will talk about what I use at night if I use my prescription retinoid and what I use on my „off-nights“, which currently is two nights a week – I am for once following my own advice and don’t rush the whole retinoid introduction.
Night Time Cleanser
This part is the same, no matter if I use Tretinoin or not, I use the same product. Or products, depending on the amount of makeup I am wearing. I wrote about Double Cleansing here, and if I am only wearing a light daytime makeup, I use the Bioderma Eau Sensibio to remove my eye makeup and then follow up with a thorough cleanse using The Inkey List Oil and Water Double Cleanser (Review here).
Should I wear a heavy makeup, feel extra sweaty and gross or just kept reapplying my sunscreen throughout the day, I will do a Double Cleanse with Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm as first step (Review here) and The Inkey List Oil and Water Double Cleanser as second cleanse.
With my face cleansed, I then have two different routines.
Night time skin care routine with Tretinoin
Right now I use my prescription Retinoid five nights a week, with two recovery nights in between.
First step is a face mist as light layer of hydration, and the one I am currently using is the kicks Thirsty Skin Face Mist. It contains Niacinamide along with humectants, and Niacinamide is one of the ingredients that help with reducing retinol irritation, so I feel I get some extra help there too.
To buffer the retinoid I then apply a little bit of the Zelens Power D Treatment Drops (Review here). Again, very expensive, but this time I have no alternative for you. I adore them, have repurchased them twice already since discovering them in 2017 and swear they make a difference in my retinoid routine.
When everything has dried down (applying retinoids to damp skin increases the risk for irritation) I use the Tretinoin, dot it all over my face to ensure even application and then distribute it all over my face and around my jaw line. Never down my neck though, my skin there is not strong enough to tolerate prescription!
Again I will wait until the Tretinoin is fully absorbed, which means at least half an hour, and then follow up with a moisturizer. My choice is The Inkey List Ceramide Cream, not the most hydrating, but with Ceramides to help repair the skins barrier.
Bonus tip: Apply a thick lip balm before you apply your strong retinoid, that way you will reduce the risk for irritated lips!
Recovery night time skin care routine
A little disclaimer first: You don’t actually need a „night off“ when using retinoids. Using it every single night is perfectly fine, so don’t feel like you have to have one. But I take the kids to swimming practice every Sunday, which means I spend approximately 1 hour with my face beneath the chlorine waters of the pool, and that paired with Tretinoin at night is a sure way to make my skin act up.
So on Sundays I focus on hydration and repair.
First step is again a face mist, this time the Instytutum Flawless Hydra Face Mist. As I said in my review here, I think it is pretty expensive for what it is and a regular face mist will do the trick just as good.
For more hydration I use a dedicated hydrating layer. I currently love the Instytutum Super Serum. It contains Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides and Panthenol and sinks in like a dream, but for 124 $ a bottle is much more expensive than I am usually willing to pay. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum (Review here) works as well and is a fraction of the price, should you look for a budget friendly alternative
Then a second serum (extra, I know, but I can´t help it, I love my serums!) again one that is high in Niacinamide: the kicks Even Tone Serum. Other options would be The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Review here) or the Paulas Choice Niacinamide Booster.
At the moment I only use an eye cream on recovery nights, the reason being that the skin around my eyes is very sensitive and that accidentally transferring my prescription too close to my eyes when applying eye cream would lead to eczema. Saying that and then presenting you with the pixi Retinol Eye Cream sounds counterintuitive, but even when I used the cream every single night for several weeks, I did not experience any irritation. For me the nourishing aspects outweight any possible retinol effects, perfect for the colder months.
Last step is the pixi Rose Ceramide Cream (Review here) with a few drops of Murad Multi Vitamin Oil mixed in – richer than I usually go for, but perfect for the colder months.