Quintana’s Guide to Retinoids

What are Retinoids?

By: Noelle Janda

“Retinoid” is an umbrella term for all vitamin A-derived products. These products are used to treat a multitude of skin concerns and range from prescription strength to over-the-counter retinols that are available at spas, beauty & drug stores. We will go over different forms, their benefits, how to use them, and if they may be right for you! 

With all the different terminology on the market, it can be a little confusing figuring out which retinoid you should try if at all. There are different chemical forms of retinoids. Some are better suited for different skin concerns. A good way to think about it is by separating them into two categories: prescription strength and over-the-counter. Prescription strength retinoids are more potent forms of vitamin A, only available through a doctor, and typically used to treat severe skin issues. You will find over-the-counter options at drug stores, beauty stores, spas.


Prescription-Only Retinoids 

  • Isotretinoin or Accutane: most commonly prescribed for severe, cystic acne as an oral medication. This is the strongest form of a retinoid.
  • Tretinoin, Retin-A, or Renova: Great for acne, pigmentation issues, and anti-aging. 
  • Adapalene: Treats various types of acne. 
  • Tazarotene or Tazorac: Treats psoriasis and severe acne. 


OTC Retinoids 

  • Retinol: Considered the gold standard ingredient in skin care products, retinol is efficient at addressing signs of aging, boosting collagen, elastin, and much more. You’ll see a lot of retinol products at beauty and drug stores. Retinol is not as potent as Retin-A for example, but is less irritating. 
  • Retinal/Retinaldehydes: A newer retinoid to hit the market. Similar to retinol, but slightly stronger. 
  • Adapalene: Great for treating acne. This was originally prescription-only but has been made available at most drug stores in recent years. Some brands include Differin and La Roche Posay Effaclar gel.


While originally formulated as an acne treatment in the 70’s, decades of research have shown retinoids provide many benefits to the skin:

  • Smooths fine lines, wrinkles, and rough texture: Our skin naturally produces new skin cells, roughly on a monthly basis. As we get older, it takes our skin longer to make new cells. Retinoids are designed to speed up that process. Thus, revealing smoother skin and fewer wrinkles. 
  • Fades uneven pigmentation and acne scarring: The increased skin cell production helps fade uneven skin pigmentation. Retinoids are also tyrosinase-inhibitors, meaning they slow the production of melanin, making it less likely for your skin to create dark marks or hyperpigmentation. 
  • Firm sagging skin: Retinoids also stimulate increased collagen and elastin production. This helps with firming and tightening. 
  • Acne: As mentioned earlier, retinoids help regulate sebum production, soothe inflammation, unclog pores and keep them clear.

How to use Retinoids:

Keep in mind that retinoids can cause some dryness and irritation when first introduced to the skin due to the faster turnover of skin cells. Understanding how to use retinoids properly is key to avoiding excessive irritation and achieving successful results. 

  1. Start slow! Allow your skin time to adjust. Follow the “1 2 3” rule first: Apply it once a week for one week, twice a week for two weeks, followed by three times a week for 3 weeks. If you aren’t experiencing irritation and flaking at this point, move on to using it every other night. If you do start to experience irritation, just adjust to a lesser frequency for one week and repeat. Everyone’s skin is different and what works for someone else may not work for you. Some people can tolerate retinoids daily while others have greater results with 2-3 times per week instead. Use the “1 2 3” approach to figure out what works best for you.
  2. SPF: Retinoids make your skin much more sensitive to the sun and more prone to sun damage. Although we should be using spf regardless, it is especially imperative to your skin’s success when using retinoids. Otherwise, you risk leaving your skin in an even more damaged condition. This can lead to worsening pigmentation issues, scarring, wrinkles etc. Using an SPF 30 or higher in the morning will provide ample sun protection.
  3. A little goes a long way: Don’t be heavy handed when applying retinoids. Generally, a pea-size amount will be enough to spread a thin layer over the entire face, or a little bit more to also cover the neck and decollete. This amount will be just as effective and less likely to cause irritation.
  4. Use in the evening: Retinoids can be unstable and break down in the sun. For this reason, only apply in the evening. 
  5. Apply to clean, dry skin: Applying to wet skin can cause irritation. Wait at least 30 minutes after washing your face and applying any serum/moisturizer to use. Avoid the eyelid and under eye area because this skin is very thin and sensitive.
  6. Consider starting with retinol: If you haven’t used retinoids before, retinol is a good starting point for your skin and will be less likely to cause irritation. We recommend the Image Total Retinol-A Creme. This product is also formulated with glycolic and lactic acid to reverse signs of aging and revitalize the appearance of dull skin. An advanced peptide complex actively fights the appearance of wrinkles and improves uneven tone. This product is available for purchase in our spa!
  7. Keep your skin hydrated: Properly moisturizing your skin is necessary to reduce irritation. Check out this article for extra tips on keeping skin hydrated. 


Warnings & Contraindications

  • DO NOT use any retinoid while pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant. They may cause unsafe levels of vitamin A in the body during pregnancy.
  • Proceed with caution if you have eczema, rosacea, dry or sensitive skin. Because retinoids can cause flaking and irritation, it may worsen existing conditions. 
  • Always consult with your dermatologist if you aren’t sure about adding a retinoid to your routine.
  • Discontinue use before heavier exfoliating treatments such as chemical peels, dermaplaning, and microdermabrasion. To be on the safer side, stop using retinoids 5-7 days before and after these kinds of treatments. If you are planning to get a traditional facial, discontinuing for 2-3 days before should be enough time.

6 Benefits of Using a Vitamin C Serum

6 Benefits of Using a Vitamin C Serum 

By: Esthetician Noelle Janda

Among the vast array of products available in the skin-care world, one ingredient has proven itself a true superstar: Vitamin C. Keep reading to learn why skincare enthusiasts, dermatologists, and your estheticians here at Quintana’s love using Vitamin C and all of its amazing benefits!

Antioxidant Properties: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules generated by UV radiation, pollution, and stress, which can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and skin damage. Vitamin C neutralizes these free radicals which reduces oxidative stress and promotes a healthier complexion.

Collagen Production: Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen production. Collagen is a protein which maintains skin’s firmness, elasticity, and overall structure. A high quality Vitamin C serum can visibly improve skin texture, fine lines and wrinkles. 

Brightening Skin Tone: Vitamin C has skin-brightening properties that can help fade age spots and hyperpigmentation. It inhibits the over-production of melanin, resulting in a more even and radiant skin tone.

Sun Damage Protection: Although Vitamin C should not replace traditional sunscreen, it can provide additional protection. When used in combination with sunscreen, vitamin C minimizes sunburn, reduces photodamage, and neutralizes free radicals.

Wound Healing: The increase in collagen production also assists with wound healing. This can help speed up the skin’s recovery process, reduce inflammation, and minimize the appearance of scars.

New Product Spotlight! Image Hydrating Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum


Our Esthetics team is excited to now offer an award-winning Vitamin C Serum that is loved by all skin types. This high-potency serum softens the appearance of wrinkles, supports skin elasticity and fights environmental damage. Hyaluronic acid helps to lock in hydration and supports the look of plump, bouncy skin. It contains multiple forms of vitamin C to help brighten the skin and fight visible signs of dullness and fatigue. The Image Hydrating Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum is available for purchase in our spa. 

Key Ingredients

Multi-vitamin C complex: A blend of tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl palmitate that brightens, tightens and smoothes the skin

Hyaluronic acid: A moisture-magnet ingredient that helps to lock vital hydration into the skin, leaving it plump- and youthful-looking

Antioxidant blend: A blend of nourishing antioxidants like green tea help to defend the skin against daily threats from environmental damage

Stop in to the Spa to purchase your Vital C

8 Ways to Relieve Dry Skin

8 Ways to Relieve Dry Skin 

by: Esthetician Noelle Janda

Many of us suffer from dry skin, especially coming out of another winter season. Lower humidity levels combined with heating our homes can exacerbate this problem. There are some easy steps you can take to lessen these effects.

But first, let’s talk about our skin’s moisture barrier. Other terms include lipid barrier or simply skin barrier. This is the outermost layer of our skin.  It’s made of tough skin cells bound together by lipids and proteins. Our skin barrier is designed to protect us from harmful irritants like free radicals, pathogens, and other environmental pollutants. Think of it as the body’s first line of defense. Not only does it help protect us from foreign toxins, it also preserves hydration levels by preventing water evaporation. Maintaining a healthy skin barrier is crucial to keep your skin looking and feeling its best. Read on to learn how!

1.Keep your skin care routine simple. Sometimes, too many products and or exfoliants can disrupt our barrier. Exfoliation can be great in moderation: Aim for 2-3 times per week max. If your skin tends to be on the sensitive side, 1-2 times per week is better. Not sure where to start? Check out our article on how to build a skin care routine as well as different product recommendations. 

2.When in the shower: Avoid hot water. Hot water can strip the skin of naturally occurring oils. Even turning the temperature down slightly can make a difference. 

Limit your shower time: between 5-10 minutes is ideal.

Use a gentle face & body cleanser. Traditional bar soap tends to have a drying effect. Reach for a mild body wash instead. Aveda’s Cherry Almond hand and body wash is a great choice: Powered by nature, babassu-nut derived surfactant cleanses skin, while cherry blossom and sweet almond oil nourish and condition.

3.Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Don’t skimp on this step. Apply moisturizer right after you get out of the shower/wash your face while your skin is still slightly damp to lock in hydration. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, and plant oils.  

4.Proper Sun protection. Excessive sun exposure can lead to a host of problems, including a damaged skin barrier. Use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher before you start your day. This can be applied on top of moisturizer and underneath makeup. Keep in mind that we still get some UVA exposure on cloudy days. 

5.Add a humidifier to your bedroom. Low humidity can also contribute to dryness, especially when the heat is running in our homes. This simple fix can add moisture back into the air and back into your skin.

6.Try layering a hydrating serum underneath your moisturizer. After washing your face, apply a few drops to the face and pat into the skin. We love the Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Intense Hydrator Serum because of its lightweight texture and many water-loving ingredients like cactus fruit and hyaluronic acid.

7.Skin still feeling dry? Consider adding an occlusive balm/ointment. This seals in hydration levels as well as other moisturizing products applied to the skin. A little goes a long way! Gently pat a thin layer on top of your moisturizer before bed. We recommend our Image Post Treatment Recovery Balm because it is specifically formulated to reduce water loss in the skin, as well as soothe redness and irritation. It also contains many hydrating ingredients like glycerine, fatty acids, and various botanical extracts. This product is available for purchase in our spa.

8.Try to set time aside for yourself to relax. High stress levels can also disrupt our skin barrier. Booking a facial with our esthetics team is a great way to unwind and treat your skin. We hope to see you soon! 

What’s a skin care routine and why do I need one?!

What’s a skin care routine and why do I need one?!

By: Esthetician Noelle Janda


Have you ever browsed through the skin care aisle only to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of products to choose from? I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Having an effective skin care routine can be a lot simpler than that and we’re here to show you how!

But first, why do we need to have a skin care routine in the first place? While it may seem like a cosmetic luxury, a skin care routine is necessary for protecting and maintaining the health of our body’s largest organ. A daily, consistent routine is the most effective way to achieve this. It turns out, a great starting point for all skin types is just an easy, 3-step approach!

Step 1: Cleanser AM + PM 

Routinely cleansing your face and neck helps to remove any makeup, dirt, oil, debris, bacteria, old skin cells or pollution that can build up throughout the day. Go for something gentle. We love the Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Gel Cleanser. If your skin tends to be on the drier side, try the Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Creme Cleanser instead! 

Step 2: Moisturizer AM + PM 

After washing your face, apply moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp. This will help to seal in hydration and strengthen your skin’s natural moisture barrier. We recommend Aveda’s hydrating water gel creme for normal to oily skin types or the Botanical Kinetics Intense Hydrating Rich Creme for dry skin. These products contain various hydrating, plant-sourced ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, olive squalane, and cupuaçu butter.

Step 3: SPF 30 or higher. AM

Once your moisturizer has had a chance to absorb after a few minutes, apply spf before you start the day. This will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV damage. Even during the cloudy, winter months, we are exposed to invisible UV radiation. Wearing sunscreen every day will help protect your skin from increased risk of skin cancer, fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, and rough texture just to name a few. If you’re wondering how much spf to apply, just follow the 2 finger rule: Squeeze the sunscreen along the lengths of your pointer and middle fingers as a rough measurement. This should be enough for your face and neck. Try our Aveda Daily Light Guard SPF 30!

Now, you can always supplement this routine with additional products depending on your skin concerns (serums, exfoliants, etc.) for a more targeted approach, but this a great starting point if you are new to skin care or aren’t sure where to begin. If you have any specific skin concerns, our team of licensed estheticians, Noelle and Erin, are here for you. We recommend booking a 50-minute customized Aveda facial to begin your skin care journey. This is our most popular facial service that also includes a skin analysis – the perfect way to treat your skin and yourself! Schedule an Appointment