Retinol exfoliates from the bottom up, stimulating cell renewal, so with regular use, your face looks like a newborn angel. But because it’s so powerful, it can make your skin more sensitive to outside influences – be it chemical, mechanical, or thermal – hence all the rules about staying away from certain skincare ingredients, hot wax, etc. yes, laser.
“Retinol irritates and dries out the skin, which can lead to adverse skin reactions that can occur after laser treatment, which is associated with a higher risk of burns,” says PA-C certified, Park Avenue Skin Solutions founder and dermatologist Esty Williams. Lauren Abramowitz, MD, agrees, noting that “the risk of using a laser device on facial skin that has been treated with retinol within the past one to two weeks is related to the skin’s reaction to the laser.” the hard way when I just forgot to stop taking retinol before going for laser mustache. As any skincare professional would expect, my upper lip was red (despite the lack of hair) for most of the next week.
While these rules apply to everything from skin resurfacing lasers to hair removal lasers, not all skin types respond equally to retinol lasers. Patients with dry or sensitive skin are more likely to react, which is why my skin has taken on the color of boiled tomatoes. If you’re like me (i.e. someone with dry or sensitive skin), it’s best to stop at least a week or two before starting treatment.
With all of this in mind, there are some studies touting the benefits of using pre-treatment retinoids for up to three months before certain laser facials…as long as you stop using them immediately before. If you are undergoing ablative laser therapy such as Fraxel, experts recommend using 0.1% tretinoin cream and stopping it 24 hours before. If you are undergoing non-ablative laser therapy, reduce the dose to 0.05%. And be sure to use a moisturizer to prevent a reaction.
Retinol removal is not the only precaution you should take before laser treatment. You should also avoid any skin care products that contain acids, benzoyl peroxide, and any retinols (a la Differin) at least five days before your laser procedure, notes Dr. Williams. And one more thing: do not use retinol for 2 weeks after any laser treatment or until complete healing. Wait 24 hours after surgery, then rigorously apply zinc-based sunscreen for the next two weeks. You can then resume your regular retinol treatment.
Post time: Sep-30-2022