I use Retin- A (generic is Tretinoin) every night to help keep wrinkles at bay. I have been using it since I was 27 (so, for 28 years). The effects are fabulous. The biggest problem, however, is that it is extremely drying. When I first started using it years ago, my skin kept peeling. It was constant. I looked like I was molting every day.
I used a heavy layer of vitamin e cream all over my face. That helped a little, but not much. But one time when I didn’t have my vitamin E cream, I used Mary Kay Enriched Moisturizer. I had it because my sister-in-law was selling Mary Kay products at the time. After using it, I noticed a huge difference in my skin’s moisturization. It felt “quenched”. So I started using that religiously. For the record: I do not sell Mary Kay, or have any affiliation with the company.
Over time, I started experimenting with other moisturizers, with some ok effects and some great effects. I realized it was the ingredient, glycerin, that caused the rapid and thorough hydration of my skin. The vitamin E oil cream did not have glycerin, or any other humectant. Moisturizers with humectants, specifically, glycerin, work very well for me.
Lately, I have been using my own face serum/cream, made with water, glycerin, niacinamide, matrixyl (peptides), and skin identical ceramides. I apply it about five minutes after I apply Retin-A.
In the summer, I don’t need anything else besides the serum on top of the Retin-A. When the weather gets colder and dryer, I apply my special serum over the Retin-A and let it sit for a few minutes. I then mist my face thoroughly with rose water, and apply an oil-based cream atop of that – Like Erno Lazlo’s Phelityl Night Cream, or BeautyCounter Plumping Oil, or my homemade avocado oil, argan oil, and vitamin E combo.
This routine is very specific and deliberate. The humectant serum draws water into the skin – misting it with water provides ample water supply to thoroughly hydrate my skin. Finally, the oil based finish seals the moisture into my face. In the morning, my skin is plump and hydrated. No more peeling from Retin-A. Now it simply regenerates my skin, which is then provided with ample hydration, and sealed and protected from the insults of the harsh, dry, winter.