How To Apply Tretinoin As A Beginner: The Sandwich Method

Time to talk about how to apply tretinoin (as a fresh-eyed beginner that has no idea what horrors may follow with the wrong kind of application😩)

Here’s a detailed video for all those that prefer a visual explanation:

@nalelahairpart 3 on all about tretinoin! (yup, there are many more parts to go) ##nairobi ##kenyatiktok ##fyp ##tiktokkenya ##skincarekenya ##kenya ##kenyantiktok♬ Waiting For Heartache – BLVKSHP

All the following steps shall be detailing how tret can be applied at night for a first time user.

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser

Make sure that your cleanser has no actives. Remember, you will be starting with a potent ingredient so it would be a great idea to pause any other product that has actives in it. In case you are on a shoestring budget,  plain bar soap (like those ones used to wash clothes, you know the ones) can be used instead.

Apply a thin layer of moisturizer

This can be done when your face is still damp so that you lock in moisture. If you have a toner or serum that has hyaluronic acid, apply it before you apply the moisturizer.


I mentioned this in my last post, there will be a lot of waiting. Wait for around 30 minutes to ensure that the moisturizer has been completely absorbed. Applying tretinoin on damp skin makes it be absorbed deeper, which I knoooow technically seems to be a good thing, but trust me, it’s a recipe for horrible irritation and peeling.

Apply a pea-sized amount of the tretinoin

Pea-sized sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Well, I mean to apply a really small amount of the tretinoin, like really small. Literally the size of a pea.

pea in hand

More does not mean better.


Even more waiting. Wait for the tretinoin to be absorbed into the skin, give or take another 30 minutes.

Slather yourself in moisturizer

Yup, another layer of moisturizer. It’s all about hydrating and moisturizing, people!

Slug it

Slugging is applying a thin layer of vaseline on top of everything to lock everything in and reduce chances of peeling and dryness later on. It is optional, but you can apply a thin layer of vaseline on top of your moisturizer just before you sleep. We shall talk more about this in a future post.

Some notes…

  • Don’t apply it on your chest and neck- yet. I shall detail how to do that (safely) in a future post.
  • Apply the tretinoin once every 3 days for the first two weeks, then move up to once every 2 days for the next two weeks, then finally once every night.
  • If you feel any irritation, cut back on use. Skip a couple of days and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Slow but steady, it’s a marathon, not a race.



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