Skip to content
When should you apply retinol?

When do I put on my retinol? The big debate of 2022…. Jokes!! It wasn’t a debate; I clearly won!!

I didn’t plan to talk about retinol again so soon, but we had a little battle of the opinions just the other day. I thought I would share with you all as it is a common question I get– When do I apply my retinol?

Ashley, my beautiful assistant, is deep diving into her education on skincare so that she can help me with all your skincare needs. The other night she sent me a video of what her momma was using and asked me a few questions. 

One was that her mom was using one brand of retinol and wanted to swap it for another, and she wasn’t sure the best way to do it as the percentage wasn’t the same…

Retinol is not a one size fits all…

In fact, there can be a significant difference from one brand to another…. I’m telling you I could write a whole novel on it, but for argument’s sake, we are going to stick to talking about a medical grade. And no, sorry, the stuff you buy at Sephora doesn’t count. 

The quick answer to her question was to just dive right into it. Her mom was actually going down in percentage, so I didn’t see any issue with her just starting daily use. Had she been increasing in concentration, I would have recommended a slightly slower pace of perhaps three days on one day off. 

But this is just the prelude and not the real reason for this blog. Ashley wanted to know at what step her mom should apply her retinol. Looking back now, I think it was a trick question, haha. She had already been told one thing, but I think sometimes she just likes to see what I will say. 

My answer 100% contradicted what the skincare rep had told her…

My view: Always put your retinol before your cream; the only exception is if using a topical acne treatment lotion. 

Matt (our excellent Vivier rep): Always put your retinol last. (Actually, he did agree about the acne lotion)

Ashley being the hilarious outgoing girl she is, goes to Matt, “Ooooo, Alexis is going to call you out.” 

Am I really that sassy?? Yes, yes, I am. 

Matt knowing me, rang me up and said with a laugh, “Hey, I hear we have opposing views.” 

And then the great debate began….

Just kidding, I told my view, and Matt said fair enough!! HAHA!

Now let me explain to you why in theory, neither of us were wrong. Matt works for Vivier, and he goes off their skincare and technology, which is awesome. So yes, in the eyes of Vivier and the way their products are formulated with a slow-release microencapsulated formula, the retinol can in fact go on top of their moisturizer. The key point here is THEIRS. They have specific recommendations and skincare programs, where they have perfectly formulated everything and even made a beautiful sheet to tell you when to use it all. –They have honestly done an incredible job making their products as consumer friendly as possible.

The issue is, I am dealing with people like you (yeah, you) that use a mixed match of skincare. This is totally fine if it’s all appropriate for you; I am all for using what you love. BUT because of this, I recommended the retinol to go under your moisturizer for two major reasons:

1) I want you to have the full benefits of your retinol, therefore I need it to soak up into that skin and do its thing. When you apply it on top of a moisturizer that is high in oils and emollients, they may block some of that product from absorbing, and therefore, your results can be diminished. 

2) And possibly even the most important…I’m lucky sometimes if you even remember you can only use it at night, and it has to go on top. If I start yammering on about it can go on top of this cream, but not that cream. You are going to look at me like I have three heads. 

So, I keep it simple for you all! I’m not going to say he said I was right but…. Matt agreed! My general rule of thumb is to always apply your thinnest product to your thickest. 

Keep it simple, layer your products like this…

First, we cleanse

Then we tone (oh boy…do I have things to say about toners… another day)





If you are feeling overwhelmed by your products or are questioning whether you are using things right—Let’s talk! Sometimes a simple tweak in how you apply things, when, and/or how often can have a major impact on achieving that dream skin. 

Your Skin Revival

Alexis Fry

Back To Top