Congratulations on completing your Tough Love phase. You’ve had faith that the good stuff lies over the hill... and you’re near the top!

Typically, if you’ve gotten through your Tolerance phase, and you’re comfy with daily use, things have started to improve, as the new layer of skin being formed comes through under the influence of retinoid use. Vital things to consider as you glide into the Comfort Zone include:

1) Sensible Sun Behaviour

In our Retinoid Struggle survey on Facebook, as many as 15% of you worry about this. So let’s address it.

Now, when I’m starting someone with significant acne on treatment, if their skin is very turbulent, I may ask them to practise sun avoidance in the early days (hats/shade etc ), until things start to turn the corner. If they’re purging and a little irritated, they won’t stick with the routine if I then throw SPF in the mix. But once things are settling, it’s a fundamental, of course so do your homework.

Look for a sunscreen that’s non-comedogenic and fragrance-free – that’s a first.
Then do your research and find the one that has the right finish for your skin type. Ultimately, the right one for you is the one that you’ll enjoy wearing and not hesitate to use in the correct quantity.

Spend some time on getting this step right – it’s the key to your skin’s future health. And remember – like jeans, you may need a different version for different occasions. I like a non-tinted primer-like one for daily use under make-up and a tinted water-resistant one for holidays and outdoor sports.

2) Keep it Simple

Resist the temptation to start getting creative with your morning routine. Continue to avoid all possible irritants - skip physical exfoliation, toners, masks… anything which will complicate your regime unnecessarily. It’s so common to get a little bit cocky at this point – so don’t fall foul to the maxim that more is more just yet.

3) Define Your Goals

Now that you’re starting to get in your retinoid groove, it’s a good time to think about what these actually are.

Controlled breakouts and nice texture?

Improvement in fine lines + wrinkles?

Better skin tone?

All of the above?!

It can really help to methodically document your journey - I think that taking pics and even doing an acne blemish count and comedone count is a good idea. It’s hard to be objective sometimes when the eye confuses the post-acne red marks with actual blemishes.

As a final reminder – I’d like to emphasise the importance of doing this all safely. I think prescription creams should be dispensed by doctors, not the internet. They are medicines for a reason.

Happy Retinizing, Folks!