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How to use hyaluronic acid and tretinoin together in your skincare routine

These anti-aging powerhouses can be a complementary pair.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 28, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
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Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Sep 28, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

When it comes to taking care of your skin, it’s important to know which skincare ingredients are right for your unique complexion—and which ingredients may work well together. Enter the tag team of hyaluronic acid and tretinoin, a skincare power couple. Hyaluronic acid, known for its moisturizing properties, teams up with tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A renowned for its multiple benefits. 

So how should you use these ingredients together in your skincare routine? Here, we’ll share what you need to know about their benefits and proper application, to help you get closer to your skincare goals. 

What is hyaluronic acid? 

Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in our bodies, made up of sugar molecules. It’s present in tissues like our skin, eyes, and joints. This molecule has a unique ability to attract and hold onto water, which gives tissues volume and support. However, as we age, our body produces less hyaluronic acid, leading to decreased elasticity in the skin and the formation of wrinkles.¹

This ingredient is an important molecule for your skin’s hydration, with studies highlighting the significance of hyaluronic acid in maintaining skin moisture. This ingredient diligently retains water, helping to visibly smooth fine lines and wrinkles.² 

What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin is a medicine derived from vitamin A, available in creams or gels that you apply to your skin. It has multiple benefits: It’s used to treat acne and reduce the effects of photoaging. When applied to the skin, tretinoin helps boost cell turnover and prevent clogged pores, which is excellent for treating acne and improving overall skin appearance.³ It also helps diminish fine wrinkles⁴ and works to enhance collagen production and improve photodamage.⁵

Tretinoin can be very effective, but it’s essential to use it properly as prescribed by a healthcare provider. When used topically, it may cause some side effects, including skin redness or irritation, so it’s crucial to follow your prescribing provider’s advice.⁶ 

Combining hyaluronic acid and tretinoin: Is it safe? Both hyaluronic acid and tretinoin are generally considered safe to use independently. They may also work well when used together.

Topical tretinoin has been approved for dermatological use for five decades. It’s approved for treating acne vulgaris and photodamage, and it has shown efficacy and safety in these areas.⁷ Hyaluronic acid is also considered safe for use in cosmetics, as described in a 2009 safety assessment.⁸

When used together, hyaluronic acid and tretinoin can complement each other. Research supports their potential synergy. One study formulated a lotion containing 0.05% tretinoin and hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and collagen. The results highlighted that this combination minimized irritation.⁹

Hyaluronic acid and tretinoin tend to balance each other. While tretinoin can sometimes be drying,¹⁰ hyaluronic acid acts as a moisturizing humectant,¹¹ helping to alleviate potential adverse effects. These findings suggest that using hyaluronic acid and tretinoin together can be a beneficial skincare strategy.

However, as always, before considering any new skincare regimen or treatment, consult with a dermatology provider.

How to use hyaluronic acid and tretinoin together 

To incorporate hyaluronic acid and tretinoin effectively into your skincare routine, follow our recommended three-step routine:

  1. Cleansing: Begin with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and other impurities from your skin. Cleanse your face using a product suitable for your skin type to create a clean canvas for the following steps.

  2. Treating with tretinoin: Next, apply tretinoin as prescribed by your dermatology provider. If you’re new to tretinoin, it’s typically recommended to start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it as your skin adjusts. 

  3. Moisturizing with hyaluronic acid: After applying tretinoin and allowing it to absorb, follow up with a moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can help improve skin hydration and counteract any potential dryness or irritation due to tretinoin use.

Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, so it’s important to consult with a dermatology provider before introducing new products like tretinoin or hyaluronic acid to your routine. 

Speak with a dermatology provider

Navigating the skincare world can be overwhelming, with so many products and ingredients to choose from. By consulting with a dermatology provider, you’ll gain access to knowledge tailored to your skin concerns. 

These professionals possess a deep understanding of how hyaluronic acid and tretinoin work, as well as plenty of other skincare topics. So you can rest assured they’ll recommend a skincare routine that’s both practical and considered safe for your skin.

Whether you aim to target specific concerns or maintain your skin’s vitality, consulting with a professional can empower you with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions for your skin’s well-being.

Curology offers both tretinoin and hyaluronic acid

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Enhance your skincare routine with Curology’s product range. Some of our products include these ingredients to address certain skin concerns effectively. Tretinoin can be found in our personalized prescription products* (subject to medical consultation). Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid—known for its moisture-retaining abilities and deep hydration—can be found in Curology’s Gel Moisturizer and Rich Moisturizer.


Should you use hyaluronic acid before or after tretinoin?

It depends! You can use hyaluronic acid alongside tretinoin, and it may be used before or after. Whether you use it before or after tretinoin may depend on the specific hyaluronic acid products you’re using, personal preference, and instructions from your licensed dermatology provider. 

What are the benefits of using hyaluronic acid and tretinoin together?

Using hyaluronic acid and tretinoin together can be effective for skincare. Hyaluronic acid helps retain moisture and smooth the appearance of fine lines,¹² while tretinoin boosts cell turnover and treats acne and signs of photoaging.¹³ They balance each other well; tretinoin can be drying, but hyaluronic acid acts as a moisturizer.

How should I apply these products in my skincare routine?

There are several different ways you can introduce tretinoin and hyaluronic acid into your routine. One popular method is to begin by cleansing your face to remove dirt and impurities. Then, you can apply tretinoin per your dermatology provider's instructions, usually once nightly. Finally, round off your routine with a moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid, which may help counteract the potential dryness caused by tretinoin. 

However, it's important to remember that everyone's skin is different, so it’s best to consult with a dermatology provider to tailor a regimen that's both effective and safe for your unique skin type and concerns.

Are there any safety concerns when combining these ingredients?

Both hyaluronic acid and tretinoin are generally considered safe for use independently. Research supports their potential synergy when used together, as the combination can help minimize skin irritation and complement each other’s effects.¹⁴

Do I need to consult a professional before using tretinoin?

Yes, tretinoin is currently available by prescription only in the United States. It’s always best to consult a dermatology provider before incorporating new ingredients into your skincare routine.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

  1. Walker, K., et al. Hyaluronic Acid. StatPearls. (2023, March 7).

  2. Papakonstantinou, E., et al. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. (2012, July 1).

  3. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (August 2021).

  4. Yoham, A.L. and Casadesus, D. Tretinoin. StatPearls. (2023, March 27).

  5. Yoham, A.L. and Casadesus, D. Tretinoin. StatPearls. Ibid.

  6. Sitohang, I.B.S., et al. Topical tretinoin for treating photoaging: A systematic review of randomized controlled trialsInt J Womens Dermatol. (2022, March 25).

  7. Yoham, A.L. and Casadesus, D. Tretinoin. StatPearls. Ibid.

  8. Baldwin, H.E., et al. 40 Years of Topical Tretinoin Use in Review. JDD. (June 2013).

  9. Becker, L.C., et al. Final report of the safety assessment of hyaluronic acid, potassium hyaluronate, and sodium hyaluronate. Int J Toxicol. (July-August 2009).

  10. Wood, E., et al. A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Vehicle-Controlled Study Evaluating the Efficacy, Safety, and Patient Satisfaction of Tretinoin 0.05% Lotion for Chest Rejuvenation. J Drugs Dermatol. (2022, June 1).

  11. Yoham, A.L. and Casadesus, D. Tretinoin. StatPearls. Ibid.

  12. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. (December 2017).

  13. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (August 2021).

  14. Yoham, A.L. and Casadesus, D. Tretinoin. StatPearls. (2023, March 27).

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

*Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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