A313 Review: How to Use this Powerful French Retinol

In the ever-evolving world of skincare, it sometimes feels like a Herculean task to find that one magic potion that addresses our skin’s multifaceted needs. Yet, every so often, a product comes along that garners rave reviews and finds itself amidst the skincare hall of fame.

These days, that product is none other than A313. It’s a cult favorite from French pharmacies, revered for its potent vitamin A formulation

I’m excited to share my review of the French girl favorite, A313 Vitamin A Pommade. As someone who is always on the hunt for skincare products that deliver real results, I was eager to see if this vitamin A cream lived up to the hype.

I’ll give you a full rundown of the A313 Pommade – what’s in it, how to use it, my experience if it worked for my skin concerns, and if it’s worth the splurge.

I’ll also share some tips for incorporating this strong vitamin A cream into your routine. Whether you have stubborn signs of aging, acne-prone skin, or are just looking to achieve that effortless French girl glow, let’s see if A313 is right for you!

A313 Review French pharmacy retinol IMG_9257

What is A313?

A313 is a French brand of vitamin A cream commonly used as a skincare product. It contains retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, known to promote smoother and healthier skin. The cult product has been used in French anti-aging skincare regimens for decades, as retinol can help to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

American actress Gwenyth Paltrow introduced A313 to the masses in the USA around 10 years ago in one of her Goop newsletters. Since then, it’s developed a cult following among women here in the States.

Before using A313 it’s best to consult with a dermatologist or your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying skin conditions or are using other skin care products with active ingredients!

A313 Skincare Benefits

What is A313 pommade used for? A313 pommade is primarily used for skin care, particularly in the treatment and prevention of signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines. It contains a form of vitamin A, which helps in promoting skin renewal and improving texture. In addition to its anti-aging properties, it can be used to address complicated skin conditions such as acne, as vitamin A helps to regulate oil production and promote the healing of the skin.

Why is A313 so good?

What’s amazing about A313 is that it addresses many different skincare concerns. Most women use it for anti-aging, but it may also be used to address skin issues such as acne or redness.

A313 is the Best Avibon Replacement

Avibon was a popular skincare ointment produced in France, noted for its high concentration of Vitamin A (retinol). However, Avibon was discontinued a few years ago, leaving many fans in search of Avibon alternatives with similar formulations. A313 pommade came along and is now considered a close successor to Avibon, offering similar skin benefits.

A313 Review French retinol vitamin A pommade IMG_9261

Who Makes A313?

A313 is made by a French pharmaceutical company called Pharma Développement, based in Corbigny, France. It manufactures and distributes healthcare and skincare products, including the popular A313 pommade. The company operates in accordance with the strict regulations and standards set by the European healthcare industry and the French government to ensure the safety and efficacy of its products.

Who A313 is For

A313 is meant for older, mature women. According to the Journal des Femmes, 30% of A313 buyers in France are over the age of 75. 22% of buyers fall between the ages of 60 and 74. 17.5% are between the ages of 45 and 59.

A313 Ingredients

A313 contains 200 000 UI Vitamin A concentrate per 100 grams of pommade. It also contains Macrogol 400, macrogol 4000, and polysorbate 80.

A313 Retinol

What percentage of retinol is in A313? A313 contains a strong 2% retinol concentration in its pomade.

Is A313 a strong retinol? Relatively speaking, yes, A313 is a strong retinol. Most American dermatologists recommend beginners start with concentrations of .25 to 1% retinol.

How to Use A313

A313 must be used as directed. Here’s how to apply A313 the right way.

When Not to Apply A313

According to the French Ministry of Health, A313 is not recommended for people who have a history of vitamin A reactions or any open lesions.

Can you use A313 while pregnant? No, A313 is not recommended for women who are pregnant, according to the French Health Ministry.

When to Apply A313

A313 should be applied at night to a freshly washed face. It should not be exposed to sunlight at all. Do you apply A313 before or after moisturizer? A313 should be applied before moisturizer on a bare but clean face.

Application Steps

Here are the steps to apply A313 to your face. 

Wash Your Face

Use a gentle face cleanser to wash your face before beginning the application.

Let Your Skin Dry

Towel dry your face. Wait around 10 minutes for your face to dry completely.

Apply a Thin Layer

Gently squeeze the tube to release around 1cm of product. You can apply A313 to just one area of your face if you prefer to start out. I applied a thin layer over the entirety of my face.

How much A313 to use for each application? You will instinctively know how much product to use. A313 doesn’t spread easily. I usually do two small 1cm product applications to make sure I don’t over-use the product by applying too much at once.

Rub in Upwards Motion

I rub the product into my skin in an upwards motion starting in the center and working my way to the outer areas of my face.

How Long to Leave A313 On

I try to leave A313 on overnight, but sometimes I’ll just use it as a face mask for one hour or so.

Remove the Following Day and Use Sunscreen

The next morning, wash your face thoroughly with a gentle cleaner, pat dry, and apply a strong face sunscreen. You must use sunscreen as A313 can cause adverse reactions on your face when exposed to sunlight.

How to Layer A313 With Other Products

I don’t recommend layering A313 with other skincare products that have active ingredients. However, if you want to add a moisturizer, then you can layer it on after applying the A313.

How Often to Use A313

How many times should I use A313? To start, I recommend using A313 only once per week. I typically use mine the day before I plan to wash my sheets as it can leave residue on my pillowcase overnight when I sleep!

Can you use A313 everyday? Yes, some women choose to use A313 every evening, but they typically build up to this frequency slowly. It’s not a good idea to start applying A313 every day from the get-go.

My A313 Review

The first time I used A313 I found the substance to be very thick and sticky. I evenly applied it all over my face before bed and began to wait.

My face started itching about one hour after putting A313 on. Keep reading to see how I solved this problem.

I was quite jet-lagged begin in Paris, so I actually woke up overnight and washed it off as the itching was driving me crazy. Cleansing my face relieved the itching immediately.

I think if I slept through the night wouldn’t have noticed the itching but it did wake me up.

Does A313 hurt? No, A313 doesn’t hurt the face, but it does make it quite uncomfortable as the itching can be intense. To relieve the itching without removing the product, I tapped my face with a fingernail in the areas that itched.

The next day, I woke up and washed my face again in case there was any remaining A313 was on my face. I noticed some light flaking of my skin at the end of the day, but nothing major.

Does A313 Really Work?

Yes, A313 is one of the few skincare products that I saw an immediate difference in the quality of my skin. My laugh lines had faded and my face no longer had red patches.

How long does A313 take to work? A313 starts to work after immediate use, but you won’t see any major loss of wrinkles or smooth skin tone until around 6 weeks of use.

A313 Before and After

I am in my early 30s for reference. Before I started using A313, I had early signs of wrinkles. I had laugh lines around my mouth and “angry 11s” between my eyebrows. After A313, I definitely noticed these lines reduced, with the most change seen around my laugh lines. These used to be very prominent when I woke up in the morning and once I started using A313, they were much less pronounced!

A313 Side Effects

What are the side effects of A313 cream? Side effects of using A313 include itching on the face and skin purging. Here are the details and remedies of how to manage these reactions.


A313 will cause itching the first few times you use it.

Why does A313 itch so much? Vitamin A, when applied topically as creams or ointments, occurs due to its nature and effect on skin cell turnover. When applied to the skin, it accelerates the process of skin cell renewal, which can initially cause irritation as the skin adjusts to the increased turnover rate. This irritation can manifest as itching, dryness, or redness, especially in beginners and people with sensitive skin. A313’s high concentration of vitamin A is another reason why it causes itching.

If the itching is too much, you can try a retinol with a lower concentration like the La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 serum.

How do I stop my A313 from itching? The best way to stop A313 from itching when you use it is to make sure you’re applying it on completely dry skin and to apply a gentle moisturizer after the A313.

What’s helped me is applying an anti-irritation cream like this one (Avène XeraCalm A.D.) to my face after applying A313.

A313 review stop itchy xeracalm cream
How to stop A313 from itching so much: Avène XeraCalm!

Can you mix A313 with moisturizer to reduce side effects? No, you shouldn’t mix A313 with moisturizer as you’ll dilute its effectiveness. Instead, apply a moisturizer after letting the A313 sit alone on your face for around 30 minutes or so.

Other women apply the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5 to their face after A313 to soothe the itching and irritation from the pomade.


Does A313 cause purging? Yes, A313 will cause light purging and skin flakes, however, it’s totally normal. It’s also not visible to others since the skin flakes are so small.

Skin purging is a process where the skin experiences a temporary increase in blemishes or breakouts when you start using a new product with active ingredients, such as vitamin A. This occurs because vitamin A, which includes retinoids and retinol, accelerates the rate of skin cell turnover.

Purging is generally a temporary phase, and with consistent use of the product, it should subside, revealing clearer, smoother skin. Keeping your skin clean and well-hydrated can effectively manage the purging phase.


I did not experience acne when using A313 but some women do.

When you apply vitamin A on the face, it encourages newer, fresher skin cells to replace the older, dead cells at a faster rate. This brings microcomedones, or early-stage acne that wasn’t visible previously, to the surface. This is why you might notice an increase in acne or other skin blemishes initially.

Other Reactions

I didn’t have any other skin reactions but it’s possible you might. If you suspect a skin reaction, it’s best to discontinue using A313 and talk to a healthcare provider!

A313 Dermatologist Review

French dermatologists often recommend products with vitamin A derivatives, known as retinoids, for skin conditions like acne and signs of aging. The compounds found in A313 promote skin renewal and improve skin texture.

However, the biggest difference is that French dermatologists recommend a localized application of A313. Dr. Catherine Oliveres-Ghouti advises “Don’t put it on the whole face, but only on a very small area, to avoid grief,” in Femme Actuelle.

Before using products like A313, French dermatologists usually advise a patch test to check for any adverse reactions, especially for individuals with sensitive skin. They may also recommend starting with a lower frequency of application, possibly every other night or a few times a week, and gradually increasing as the skin adapts to prevent irritation.

They always underline the importance of using sunscreen during the day, as products containing vitamin A can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation!

A313 vs Tretinoin

A313 and tretinoin are topical treatments recognized for their skin rejuvenating properties, largely owed to Vitamin A components. Here’s how they compare:


A313 contains a milder form of Vitamin A, known as retinyl palmitate, which is less potent than tretinoin. It is essentially a combination of retinol and palmitic acid.

Tretinoin is a more potent form of Vitamin A, a prescription-strength retinoid, which is directly active on the skin and doesn’t need to be converted like retinyl palmitate.


Being milder, it might take a longer time to see noticeable results with A313, but it is less likely to cause irritation compared to tretinoin. It can be a good option for those with sensitive skin or for individuals who are new to retinoids.

As a potent retinoid, Tretinoin generally delivers quicker and more pronounced results, effectively targeting signs of aging and acne. However, it can cause more irritation, especially in the initial phases of use.


A313 can be bought by anyone online or in France without a prescription. Tretinoin requires a prescription from a doctor, given its potent nature and potential for side effects.

Both products are used as a part of an evening skincare routine, and sunscreen must be applied during the day to protect the skin from increased UV sensitivity caused by the use of retinoids.

Where to Buy A313

A313 is currently sold in the United States at two retailers: Amazon and Walmart.

How Much is A313 in France?

A313 is much cheaper in France. It costs only around 6.50€ in the Paris pharmacy I buy it from, CityPharma.

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