Alright, usually I use products for a while before I give them reviews of any kind, but screw this product. I had originally gone in to my doctor to get Tretinoin Cream .1%. He seemed okay with that but then suggested the gel because it would be "easier." Before this product I had used adapalene gel so I figured, why not. First.. the prescription he sent to my pharmacy was .01, the lowest percentage I had seen. I should've called right then but I decided to try it and now it's the third night and my skin is in pain. As are my eyes, and my nose. This stuff is over half alcohol which is AWFUL for your skin. My eyes literally stung to the point of tears, and my nose burns when I try to apply this. I also couldn't apply moisturizer over this - it just stings so bad, and for some reason turns into a stringy, goopy mess. I'm talking the most calming moisturizer I know, FAB's Ultra Repair Cream, and it still couldn't help me. I can deal with a bit of redness, flaking, and purging, I was expecting it. But this was a whole different level. I'm stopping by my doc's office tomorrow to (hopefully) switch to the cream, which has much better reviews. Ugh. Never again.
I got a sample of the Altrain from the derm that was a .05% and it was better. That said, insurance covered this after a fight (when I had it) for fairly cheap. I bought both refills before my insurance ran out. I have used about half of the first tube and try and try again it just doesn't work for me. It smells of vodka and is clear (the name brand is beige). I used this with Finacea (HORRIBLE for me) and also alone. I have to be super careful to use the smallest amount and not very often and still it is damaging and flakes and peel into a large red spot that takes ages to heal. I have found better things to improve and maintain the integrity of my skin. Right now I'm using Paula's Choice Resist Daily 5% AHA and that is helping much more without side effects. Everyone is different and like I said, the .05% name brand seemed actually better and more gentle (oddly) than the .01% generic that I have. But I don't stress because it's just not the right thing for me. I thought if I used it only 3 nights a week and did it slowly after my barrier returned to normal etc etc it would show it's stuff, but it's just not. Maybe I'm too sensitive for things like this but I just feel it flakes the top layer where the AHA I'm using will turn blemishes into scabs that when they fall off are GONE. AHA isn't supposed to be penetrating like that but idk for me it works way better than this.
I have used Tretinoin Gel .025% for the past month. I was planning on going the 3-2-1 schedule--every third night in week 1, every other night in week 2, and every night in week 3-- in order to allow my skin to acclimate, but I found that to be unnecessary. The first time I put it on, I couldn't believe how simple it was and I waited 2 days to apply it a second time. Ever since, I've applied it every night. After an hour, I applied moisturizer before sleeping. Because of this, I didn't experience the heightened sensitivity that everyone talks about. In the morning, I'd wash and put my sunscreen and moisturizer on. I'd reapply my sunscreen at least once a day.
I will say that my chin and neck were the most sensitive. My chin was very dry and would peel, and my neck looked like I had a rash and it hurt terribly. So I only applied once a week to my neck. But the recommended pea size drop to the whole face is ridiculous. I tried that and felt like I was putting nothing on. So I actually applied a pea size to my forehead, chin, both cheeks, and on my nose and underneath my eyes. So 5 in total! And no adverse side-effects!
Luckily, my forehead and chin have remained virtually clear during this time and my zits are primarily on my cheeks. I hope the tretinoin will eradicate the milia and fine lines under my eyes. It has made the acne worse and the scarring is devastating, but it's supposed to get better.
I give this a one rating not because my acne hasn't improved (it's not supposed to for another month or two) but because 90% of the gel is comprised of alcohol denat, which is awful for your skin. It smells exactly like rubbing alcohol. Alcohol causes dryness, free-radical damage, and irritation that hurts skinís healing process. It also weakens healthy collagen production. This is so ironic because the tretinoin is supposed to do the exact opposite! When I'm done with the Tretinoin I'll switch to Tazorac because it's alcohol free.
I will update again at the 2 month mark.
I read about tretinoin in a magazine once and decided to buy some off the internet. I was a bit dubious because you don't always know if you're getting the real stuff. Anyway for some years I suffered tiny little wart type waxy growths on my chest (keratosis?). I was so embarrassed and never wore tops that would show any skin, just covered up all the time. I went to the doctor who said that basically, little could be done without causing scarring etc, so I thought I'd just have to live with it. I read about tretinoin for skin conditions so decided to give it a try. It took some months (3-4), and to start off with lots of redness/itchiness on chest area, but this cream proved nothing short of a miracle! The difference it made was just amazing. Once when I used to feel my chest area it was just small hard lumps all over it, now it is virtually smooth. No, they haven't all completely disappeared and I probably will always be prone to them but I will always use this cream to maintain. Recently I got two ugly raised sebbhoric wart type growths on my shoulder, so applied this cream to them and a few months down the line they have totally disappeared. Now when I look at my shoulder there actually isn't a mark there to indicate they were ever there. I so wish I'd known about this cream years ago - it would have saved me so much embarrassment. Truly - this cream is the only cream I have found that has made such dramatic results.
I also tried it on pigmentation marks on my face but unfortunately for me it didn't seem to help with this.
WOW! I have now been using tretinoin for 7 weeks and my skin is a lot better! Before I started using this gel I had one to two awful cystic spots a month due to hormones, but during stressful times such as now applying for my PhD or exams I would get loads of them. At the moment I am not suffering from dry skin and I only have one spot on the inner corner of my nose, but not a cystice one, so its not too bad.
I must admit, the first 4 weeks using tretinoin caused havoc for my skin, I had slight flaky skin but about 7 cystic spots at once! Some on my forehead, which I havent suffered from in years and quite a few nasty ones on my chin (which is my problem area). They all took a while to heal once new ones stopped coming, but as far as I can see now it was worth suffering through the horrible skin.
I will keep you updated, but at the moment my skin is looking great. At the beginning I only used the gel for 3 hours at night to avoid excessive drying. Now I am using it all night with no problems.
So far this product gets the thumbs up!
UPDATE, more than a year later! Even though this product did clear up my skin my flaky skin never stopped. I have now changed to differin which has reduced flaking to 0...prefer it so much more x
I'm writing a quick comparison of my experiences with this versus tazorac. For a little background on my retinoid usage, please check out my tazorac review.
First of all, both have given me amazing results. I dont have a wrinkle on my face and although genetics have a lot to do with it, I say the other half is due to my retinoid usage since my mid-20s.
I switched to tretinoin after complaining to my derm that the tazorac was not getting rid of my clogged pores. I always had these tiny little bumps that some days looked like irritation, other days looked like breakouts and some days it took on the form of milia (right in my undereye area....uggh). The tazorac never really took care of that. With tazo, my skin was always peeling and perhaps that was the reason why the clogged pores remained, since I had skin that would always need exfoliation. It just never stopped and I was never 100% satisfied with tazorac.
Tretinoin took care of all those things. It didnt hit me until I saw photos of myself from the time period when I was using tretinoin versus my memories from tazorac that I realized the tretinoin had actually done its job. Tretinoin gel took a little while to work, and much more patience I tell you. Tretinoin cream (.1%) worked almost immediately but was sooo much more irritating and I seemed to get more clogged pores in the process. Oh, and the cream always made me look puffy and made my eyes water and itch like crazy.
When tretinoin gel is first applied to the skin one might get the sense that you didn't put enough on. This is due to the alcohol base, which makes it so that it absorbs and dries right away. You never really feel it on your skin. Chances are, you applied enough but because of the way it feels and goes on, over application is rather easy. Both Tretinoin and Tazorac gave me a not so fun share of peeling for several weeks except that the tretinoin eventually subsided, whereas tazorac was never ending.
Using tretinoin scared the crap out of me, especially the 2nd-3rd week. I got pimples, cysts, you name it...but I got them in areas where I had broken out in the past (some even years ago!!!) or had clogged pores in I didn't believe in the "purging" process until recently, when all of this made sense. Also, tretinoin zapped the oils on my skin. I actually felt like I was on accutane!!! My skin actually went more toward the "normal" side while on this and didn't need to resort to *anything* else but soap and water (and my neutrogena acne wash from time to time). For me, the scariest part of me using it was watching the pigmented areas of my skin come to the surface. I had hyperpigmented spots and those areas became darker but within a couple of days of consistent use, they disappeared right before my eyes. While I was on tazorac, I never felt like I was completely clear and never felt like I could just stop or decrease application. With the tretinoin, I remember being able to completely stop and still kept the results!
The annoying milia under my eyes was also zapped. If you have a truly big problem with milia, which IMO can be the most annoying thing in the world, give tretinoin gel a try.Between Tretinoin (Retin A) and Tazorac, I can't say that one is a lot stronger or more effective than the other. But I do believe one works better for acne/clogged pores (tretinoin) and the other for smoothing out skin and wrinkles (tazorac). This is a decision for your derm and you to make based on the needs of your skin and your level of tolerance towards retinoids. For me, Tretinoin a little more drying and irritating than Tazorac but I liked it better to address those darn clogged pores. I got results! I like tazorac to maintain those results (especially antiaging) Additional bonus - tretinoin is much more cheaper. Tazorac will hit your wallet hard, even with insurance.
EDIT: I actually had the time to pull the instructions from my tretinoin and sure enough it does say that around the 3rd week is when you start breaking out. This is the point when I would always stop using it. Just thought I'd give you the head's up. But, if you do stay with it, I promise you will LOVE the results and the rough period of breakouts will be well worth it.