The 6 Top Moisturizers To Use With Retin-A for Every Skin Type

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A good moisturizer is something that every person should have in their beauty arsenal, but finding one that works well for your skin type can be a challenge.

If you’re someone who struggles with acne though, you know that moisturizer is an extra important step in your skincare routine.

smiling woman holding white cosmetic containers

Retin-A, also known as tretinoin, is a powerful acne-fighting medication that can be found in both prescription and over-the-counter products.

Moisturizers with Retin-A can keep your skin hydrated while also clearing up acne.

If you’re not sure which moisturizer with Retin-A is right for you, we’ve rounded up six of the top options on the market, suitable for every skin type.

But first, we’ll dive into how tretinoin cream works and why you might want to consider using it.

What is Tretinoin Cream?

Tretinoin cream is a topical medication used to treat acne. It belongs to a class of drugs called retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A.

Retin-A, the most popular brand of tretinoin now used interchangeably with its generic name, works by promoting the turnover of skin cells. 

This skin renewal process unclogs pores and prevents pimples from forming. 

Moreover, Retin-A also reduces inflammation and redness.

It is available by prescription only and should be used exactly as prescribed by your doctor. While tretinoin is a very effective acne treatment, it may take several weeks to see results.

Common side effects include dryness, peeling, and irritation of the treated area. 

So if you have sensitive skin, you need to be extra careful when using products with tretinoin.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Budget Pick
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Restores skin’s natural barrier
  • Locks in moisture
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane
Premium Pick
  • Provides 24-hour hydration
  • With dual-action squalane
  • Balances skin’s driest areas

How Your Skin Benefits from Using a Moisturizer with Retin A

Aside from helping to clear up acne, moisturizers with Retin-A can also do a lot of wonders for your skin.

If your dermatologist has prescribed you a Retin-A cream, they have likely recommended that you use it in conjunction with a moisturizer.

This is because moisturizers can offset some of the common side effects of using Retin-A, such as dryness and peeling.

Here are some benefits of using a Retin-A moisturizer:

Exfoliates the skin

Tretinoin works by increasing the turnover of skin cells as it sloughs off dead skin cells and reveals brighter, more radiant skin.

A moisturizer with Retin-A can further exfoliate the skin, which can lead to a more even complexion.

Reduces inflammation

Retinoids like Retin-A are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

The chemical structure of retinoids inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators, which can reduce redness and swelling.

This means any moisturizer with Retin-A can calm down inflamed skin and reduce the appearance of acne.

smiling woman with towel on head and cosmetic cream on face

Evens out skin tone

Some studies suggest that vitamin A can lighten dark spots on the skin.

While more research is needed, using a moisturizer with Retin-A may even out your skin tone over time.

This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with acne scars or hyperpigmentation.

Firms and plumps the skin

Vitamin A is also essential for the production of collagen, which keeps the skin looking plump and firm.

While Retin-A won’t magically erase wrinkles, it can improve the appearance of fine lines and give your skin a more youthful appearance.

Side Effects of Retin-A

As mentioned earlier, Retin-A can cause some side effects, especially when you first start using it.

It’s important to note that these side effects are more common when you first start using Retin-A.

These side effects usually go away after a few weeks of continued use. Common side effects include the following:

  • Dryness
  • Peeling
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity to sunlight

If you experience any severe side effects such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, stop using the product and speak with your doctor right away.

Retinol vs Tretinoin: Is There a Difference?

While both retinoids and retinol are derived from vitamin A, they are not the same thing.

Retinol is a type of over-the-counter vitamin A that can be found in many skincare products. Tretinoin, on the other hand, is a prescription medication.

Generally, retinol is

  • available in lower concentrations,
  • milder and gentler on the skin,
  • less likely to cause side effects, and
  • found in over-the-counter products.

Retinoids like tretinoin, on the other hand, are

  • more potent,
  • a synthetic form of vitamin A,
  • available in prescription strength only, and
  • more likely to cause side effects.

Your doctor can help you determine whether retinol or tretinoin is right for your skin.

If you have sensitive skin, they may recommend starting with a retinol product and gradually working up to tretinoin cream.

If you’re looking for more immediate results, however, tretinoin may be the better option.

No matter which route you choose, make sure to use a moisturizer to offset any dryness or irritation caused by the retinoid.

The 6 Top Moisturizers to Use With Tretinoin

If you prefer to moisturize your face with a lotion or cream that has retinoids in it, you’re in luck!

There are lots of different moisturizers on the market that contain retinoids, so you can choose the one that’s best for your skin type.

We’ve personally tested each of the moisturizers on this list and can attest to their efficacy.

And now, without further ado, here are the six top moisturizers to use with tretinoin:

La Roche-Posay Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer - Ideal for Sensitive Skin

We love how this moisturizer from La Roche-Posay not only contains retinoids that fight acne and wrinkles but also has niacinamide and glycerin to soothe and moisturize the skin.

Primary benefits: Restores skin's moisture barrier, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and fights acne


  • 48-hour hydration
  • Skin barrier repair after 1 hour
  • Oil-free formula

This one definitely deserves the top spot on our list of the best moisturizers to use with tretinoin!

La Roche-Posay is a renowned brand recommended by dermatologists for its clinical-strength skincare products.

This moisturizer is no exception!

The Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer contains both retin-A and ceramides, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin.

It’s non-greasy and quickly absorbs into the skin, leaving behind a matte finish.

Plus, this face moisturizer also has niacinamide and glycerin, ingredients that are known for their ability to brighten the skin.

Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer also provides 48-hour hydration and has an oil-free formula, ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Zero parabens, alcohol, and fragrance round out the list of reasons why this is one of the top moisturizers on the market.

Kiehl's Since 1851 Ultra Facial Cream 125 ml Jar

We love Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream because it contains squalane, an ingredient that is known for its ability to moisturize and protect the skin.

Primary benefits:  Hydrates the skin, repairs skin lipids, and prevents moisture loss


  • With Squalane and Glycerin
  • 24-hour hydration
  • Cream

The thick, creamy consistency makes you feel like your dry skin is finally getting the love it deserves.

If you prefer thick, creamy moisturizers, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane is the one for you.

People with dry skin can rejoice once this rich cream is applied as it provides 24-hour hydration throughout the day.

Squalane, one of the major ingredients in Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, is derived from olives. It moisturizes and protects the skin.

Glycerin, which is a natural humectant, is also present in this moisturizer and draws water into the skin.

And even though this facial cream is quite thick, it won’t leave your skin feeling greasy or oily.

The lightweight formula is quickly absorbed, leaving behind a healthy-looking complexion.

Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance - Best for Mature Skin

We love the ultra-nourishing properties of this moisturizer from Dermalogica.

Primary benefits: Balances skin moisture levels, plumps the skin, and smooths fine lines and wrinkles


  • With lactic acid
  • Paraben and cruelty-free
  • Leaping Bunny certified

A youthful-looking complexion is just a few pumps away with this moisturizer from Dermalogica.

Anti-aging moisturizers are a dime a dozen these days, but very few of them live up to the hype.

Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance is one of the exceptions.

Formulated with hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and Centella Asiatica, this moisturizer plumps and hydrates the skin.

But that’s not all!

Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance also contains BioReplenish Complex, which are key barrier lipids that strengthen the skin barrier.

This is important for mature skin as a strong moisture barrier prevents fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

Dermalogica’s Intensive Moisture Balance is also vegan, cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances or colors.

This is a plus for those with sensitive skin as artificial fragrances and colors are known to irritate the skin.

Juice Beauty The Organic Solution SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer - Best For Oily Skin

We love Juice Beauty's The Organic Solution SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer because it contains zinc oxide, an ingredient that is known for its ability to protect the skin from the sun.

Primary benefits: Protects the skin from the sun, moisturizes the skin, and controls oil production


  • Oil-free
  • With SPF 30
  • Certified organic

Certified organic ingredients are what make this moisturizer from Juice Beauty stand out.

Sunscreen is an essential part of any skincare routine.

When applying Retin-A, it is also important to use sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Juice Beauty’s The Organic Solution SPF 30 Oil-Free Moisturizer is a great option for those who prefer to use sunscreen, moisturizer, and retinoid all in one.

This moisturizer is light and oil-free, making it ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

The addition of natural mineral zinc oxide protects the skin from free radicals and UV rays.

And like all of Juice Beauty’s products, this moisturizer is made with certified organic ingredients.

So you can be sure that you’re not exposing your skin to any synthetic chemicals or toxic ingredients.

COSRX Comfort Ceramide Cream - Ideal for Acne-Prone Skin

We love the Centella Asiatica in this moisturizer from COSRX as it is known for its ability to calm and soothe the skin.

Primary benefits: Hydrates and moisturizes the skin, calms and soothes irritation, and heals acne scars


  • With ceramides
  • Paraben-free

Who doesn't love a moisturizer that does it all like COSRX's Comfort Ceramide Cream?

K-beauty brand COSRX is known for its gentle yet effective skincare products.

And most acne-fighting ingredients are present in their Comfort Ceramide Cream.

This moisturizer contains Centella Asiatica, a medicinal herb known to soothe and calm the skin.

It also has ceramides, which are an important part of the skin’s barrier function.

When the skin’s barrier is damaged, it is more susceptible to inflammation and breakouts.

So by using a moisturizer with ceramides, you can restore and strengthen your skin’s natural barrier function.

Comfort Ceramide Cream also contains glycerin, which hydrates and plumps the skin.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion - Best For All Skin Types

We love how affordable and effective CeraVe's PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is.

Primary benefits: Moisturizes the skin and is suitable for all skin types


  • Affordable
  • Ideal for all skin types
  • Non-comedogenic

Those looking for an affordable yet effective moisturizer will love CeraVe's PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion.

Whether you have dry, oily, or sensitive skin, moisturizers are needed to keep the skin hydrated and healthy.

Niacinamide calms the skin, while hyaluronic acid retains moisture.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion is definitely a great option for all skin types as it is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and won’t clog pores.

This moisturizer contains three essential ceramides that work overnight to bring a more supple and radiant complexion by morning.

Imagine waking up with moisturized and healthy-looking skin!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Tretinoin

Still have a few questions about using tretinoin? Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.

pretty woman touching cheeks feeling fresh

Do I put moisturizer on before or after tretinoin?

It is recommended to first apply Retin-A and then moisturizer on top. Just make sure to give the Retin-A time to absorb into your skin before applying moisturizer.

Some also apply moisturizers first then wait a few minutes before applying Retin-A on top. If you do this, lock it all in with your moisturizer again.

How often should you apply Retin-A?

It depends if it’s your first time using it or if you’ve been using it for a while.

If you’re just starting, begin by applying Retin-A two to three times a week and gradually increase to every other day or even every day as your skin becomes more tolerant.

Those with acne-prone skin may find that using Retin-A every day keeps breakouts at bay.

If you’ve been using Retin-A for a while and your skin is already used to it, you can apply it every day. Just make sure to moisturize well afterward!

Retin-A Is a Miracle Ingredient That Every Skin Care Routine Needs

Vitamin A like tretinoin cream can do wonders for your skin.

Aside from keeping blemishes and acne away, tretinoin cream can also fight the signs of aging by reducing wrinkles and fine lines.

Tretinoin cream can be used alone or in combination with other anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C.

Make sure to come back to this blog post if you are planning to add tretinoin cream to your skincare routine. We’ll be sure to update it with the latest and greatest tretinoin creams on the market!

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  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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