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best retinol skin care products for sensitive skin

Best Retinol Skin Care Products for Sensitive Skin

The best retinol skin care products to use if you have sensitive skin are a holy grail in the fight against skin aging. That's because retinoids are quite possibly the best “fountain of youth” skin care ingredient second only to sunscreen. In my opinion as a dermatologist, retinoids really are worth adding to your skin care routine if you are serious about wanting the best anti-aging skin care. But if you have sensitive skin you need to choose your retinoid carefully. If you have already experimented with retinoid products, you no doubt have noticed how irritating they can be ... that's where my new retinol skin care products come in!

Dr. Bailey's Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Creams are created for sensitive skin

Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream 5x

Retinol Ultra Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream 10x

The maximal allowed concentration of retinol is 1%. My 5X is half of this and my 10X is full strength 1% retinol night cream.

These professional retinol products can they give you the retinoid magic without your skin molting like a lizard!  - Dermatologist (and middle age woman with sensitive skin) Dr. Cynthia Bailey

Yes. I've made it possible by turning to a skin chemist wizard to make a great product.  Why are my retinol night creams simply the best choice for your sensitive skin? Because they are formulated with a slow delivery system and coupled with a high concentration of calming green tea antioxidant polyphenols to fight irritation. Your skin gets the highest level of retinol without being overwhelmed and thrown into an irritation spiral.

My new retinol night cream is made with the highest quality, stable medical-grade all-trans-retinol. It's also made in an FDA-monitored and FDA-approved facility using state-of-the-art product chemistry because I'm serious about results. You're getting active retinol in a formulation that helps counter skin irritation. You'll see results quickly; results that transform your complexion.


"I love Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy as well as the new Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream."

I also use the Calming Zinc Bar along with the Facial Exfoliating Sponge that she recommends. Since I started using Dr. Bailey’s products, my rosacea has cleared up. I have referred several of my friends to the website. Nancy Anderson June 23, 2014

To see what my retinol night cream can do for your skin click the following link to read my post on Retinol Facts - What Retinol Can Do For Your Skin.

Be sure to increase your success by following my three tips for using retinol on sensitive skin.

Dermatologists Advice: Three important tips for using retinoid products on sensitive skin

Retinol Tip #1:  Always start with lower-level retinol products and work up gradually.

Your skin will adjust to retinoid products, but it needs time. It's just like weight training; you don't start by lifting the heavy barbells, you start with the light weights and work up. Likewise, you don’t start with the highest potency retinol product you start with a lower-level one – be patient, you'll get there!

Retinol Tip #2:  Avoid other potentially irritating skin care products when you first start using retinol.

With retinol therapy, there is always an initial break-in period. It's called “retinoid dermatitis” and it happens at the beginning of treatment and again when you move up to a higher-strength product. This retinoid dermatitis can be subtle or you may notice it as an irritation that develops in the first weeks to months after you added a retinoid to your skin care routine.

Whether subtle or noticeable, the presence of the retinoid dermatitis makes your skin more porous. If you were to apply an irritating product (for example, an AHA, BHA, alcohol containing toner, or harsh soap) your skin will sting. This may lead to irritation and prolong how long it takes your skin to adjust to your new retinoid. Because retinoids are such an important part of a complete anti-aging skin care routine, I make them the priority. This means that when I start a person on a retinoid such as my Retinol Intensive Night Cream, I stop all other potentially irritating products such as anti-aging products, acne products, and harsh cleansers. Here is how we do it:

  • We take a temporary break of a few weeks from potentially irritating anti-aging or acne products, including AHAs, possibly even vitamin C, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide products. We add them back slowly when the skin has acclimated to the retinoid. Our goal is to allow the skin to adjust to the retinoid without triggering a skin irritation cycle.
What do you do if you experience skin sensitivity with your retinol product? Here's the trouble-shooting strategy that I use with my dermatology patients:
  • At the first sign of skin irritation, regardless of the cause (wind burn, sun burn, change in climate, allergy to a new product, etc.), I recommend skipping retinol for several nights or a week until the skin has settled down.
    • Once the skin is back to normal then the retinoid can again be applied at night but less frequently at first and then again work up to every night, as tolerated.
"My favorite product is the Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy." I was in a department store today and the sales associate complimented my skin. I have referred several friends to Dr. Bailey’s website.

Tip #3:   During the day, use my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy, a moisturizer, and a zinc oxide sunscreen when using a retinoid. Get all these products in my Complete Facial Skin Care Kit!

best retinol for sensitive skinThese are important products to support your skin's health, to quiet any early signs of skin irritation, and to protect your skin from the sun and environmental stressors. This product combination will increase the success of your anti-aging skin care routine.

Here's how we layer these important facial products during the day for maximum anti-aging benefit:

  1. CLEANSE: Wash with Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser
  2. CORRECT: Apply a single pump of Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy during the day and let dry for a few minutes. This product is a great companion product for the Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream. At night apply the Retinol in place of the Green Tea because it combines retinol and green tea polyphenol antioxidants
  3. HYDRATE: Apply the Daily Moisturizing Face Cream matched to your skin type. one of these moisturizers matched to your skin on top of your Green Tea or Retinol.
  4. PROTECT: Apply my Sheer Strength Sunscreen. It provides broad spectrum anti-aging sun protection. All exposed skin must be covered with sunscreen daily and remember harmful and wrinkle-causing UV rays come through window glass, bounce off surfaces, and come through clouds. If the sun is up you need zinc oxide sunscreen on! Know that mineral zinc oxide sunscreens are better tolerated by your sensitive skin than chemical sunscreens. 

    Trust me, retinoids are worth the effort - they are the best anti-aging skin care products you can use. I've seen it in my dermatology practice every day for years.

    Retinoids are the most powerful skin care products you can use to keep your skin looking timelessly youthful. Combined with a zinc oxide sunscreen, retinoids, such as our Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Creams, are the most powerful anti-aging skin care you can use. Retinoids are tricky though, especially if you have sensitive skin. My tips above are how I'm able to help my patients with sensitive skin use retinoids successfully.

    Retinol Skin Care References

    Improvement of Naturally Aged Skin With Vitamin A (Retinol), Reza Kafi, MD; Heh Shin R. Kwak, MD, Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:606-612

    Improvement of photoaged facial skin in middle-aged Japanese females by topical retinol (vitamin A alcohol): a vehicle-controlled, double-blind study. Kikuchi K, Suetake T, Kumasaka N, Tagami H, J Dermatolog Treat. 2009;20(5):276-81

    Choosing Topical Retinoids for Aging Skin, Sachs, DL, Dermatology Focus, Summer 2013 Vol 32 No 2 page 4

    Application of Retinol to Human Skin In Vivo Induces Epidermal Hyperplasia and Cellular Retinoid Binding Proteins Characteristic of Retinoic Acid but Without Measurable Retinoic Acid Levels or Irritation, Sewon Kang, Elizabeth A. Duell, et. al., J Invest Dermatol 105:549-556, 1995

    Vitamin A Antagonizes Decreased Cell Growth and Elevated Collagen-Degrading Matrix Metalloproteinases and Stimulates Collagen Accumulation in Naturally Aged Human Skin, James Varani, Roscoe L Warner, Mehrnaz Gharaee-Kermani, et. al., J Invest Dermatol (2000) 114, 480–486;

    Topical Tretinoin for Photoaged Skin: a Double-blind Vehicle-controlled Study, Weiss JS, Ellis CN, et. al., JAMA. 1988, 259: 527-532

    Tazarotene Cream for the Treatment of Facial Photo Damage: a Multicenter, Investigator-Masked, Randomized, Vehicle-Controlled, Parallel Comparison of Tazarotene 0.01%, 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1% Creams and Tretinoin 0.05% Emollient Cream Applied Once-Daily for 24 Weeks. Kang S, Leyden JJ, Lowe NJ, et al., Arch Dermatol. 2001;137:1597-1604.

    Mechanisms of Photoaging and Chronological Skin Aging, Gary J. Fisher, PhD; Sewon Kang, MD; et. al., Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(11):1462-1470

    Photo attribution: © Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto/Corbis