This is a prescription-only product here in Australia. I use 0.05% Tretinoin, brand name Retrieve. The base is very nice - not greasy, sort of like a gel-creme. I have been using it for approximately 6 months and this keeps the cystic acne on my chin completely under control as long as I also keep taking my birth control pill. I apply Retrieve every night after I cleanse. My skin is fairly resilient so I'm able to use it without buffering. Making sure skin is free of moisture before I apply is key, as I will experience flaking otherwise. It took me approximately 2 months for my skin to get used to the product and then another month after that to really start clearing my skin. I buy this quite cheaply in Australia - about $40 for a decent sized tube, which will likely last me a year or more. In fact I'm pretty sure it will expire before I finish it! After seeing such great results on my acne, I've begun applying it to my sunspots, but I can't report any progress there yet. Retrieve/Retin A is now a staple in my skincare routine and I will definitely be sticking with it.
I have been trying to use Retin-a for about a year with horrible side effects. I would get really dry and red, even if i used it every other day with the lowest strengh. I recently over the past couple months started mixing equal amouts of retin-a and paula's choice hydrating treatment cream. I am completely amazed. My skin has never looked this good. No breakouts!!!!! I started using it for aging purposes. I would recommend this to anyone that wants clear beautiful skin. Don't be affraid to mix with moisurizer. This is what my derm. told me to try..
My review is for the Retin A Micro gel pump, it runs me $85 as Blue Cross Blue Shield thinks that a 40 year old woman is only using it for wrinkles.
*If you have tried retin A cream or the generic equivalent and had a bad experience, try the Micro gel! It is a cushioned product, it slowly administers the product across your skin over time instead of blasting it. Don't let anyone tell you that the cream and Micro gel are the same, they are not!! The cream can be harsh.
I had cystic acne in high school, I literally had road-rash-face, starting at 13.. My doctor refused to give me Retin'A and said I'd have to go see a derm, but we didn't have insurance for that and I didn't want to ask my dad to pay for it when he was already trying to pay for two kids he could barely afford. I endured torturous bullying over my acne, it was disfiguring and at times I looked like I had horns coming out of my forehead or chin or cheek. I would lay my face down on the hard tile floor of our kitchan and push until the cysts broke inside, that was the only way I knew how to deal with them. Fast forward 25 years and my skin is amazing, thanks to the Retin-A Micro, and Finacea! You wouldn't look at my skin and think I'm 40. And unless I don't have makeup on, you'd think I have mostly perfect skin!
Yes it has a 'purge' phase when you first use it. But that won't last long, and you'll never have zits like that again. But start off slowly! It can make you feel like you have a chemical burn! I started with the weakest RetinA and it still burned my face, but now I use the full strength twice a day and no problems. Just clear smooth skin!
I have been using this for a month to combat acne (I had to stop using glycolic peel every week, because its almost summer now and my acne got a lot worse). I did not have any dramatic purging so far, no flaking or redness. The skin just feels slightly sunburnt all the time, although it cannot possible be. My skin is a bit more volatile and I wake up with a few new pimples every morning- the good thing about these pimples is, that they are really sort of dry and heal in few hours to a point where they are easy to cover with makeup. Definitely does something good with my acne! It heals extremely quickly, but also forms really quickly...So far I do not know what to think of it...Prepare for a bumpy ride if you have acne...definitely not as good as Duac, which just clears your skin pretty much immediately.. I will update in a month, probably with a porcelain clear skin...haha
btw: I paid 5 dollars for this with a prescription from my dermatologist. I would not advice anyone to use this without consulting a doctor, since my derm told me, that I have to come back in 5 weeks time for a check up and that she had some really bad experience with retin A that left permanent damage on a couple of patients faces..
The major things to note about this product are (1) It will cause redness and peeling (2) It will make you extremely sensitive to the sun, (3) Do not be tempted by the positive results to use too much or use it too often because you will get an unnatural celebrity Botox-face (4) It will work but as soon as you stop, your skin will return to its original state -- i.e. where you had wrinkles that softened, those wrinkles will reappear; where you had a spot, that spot will return. It is not a cure because you will likely need to use the product for the rest of your life to maintain the effects.
MY SKIN --- I have been using Retin-A 0.05% for about 1 year now. I originally started using it as a treatment for a strange bout of adult acne & continued using it as a face cream afterwards. I have mildly sensitive skin & use it only twice a week.
WAYS TO USE --- There are two ways to use this product (1) As a mask = apply a thin layer all over the face and leave it on for a few minutes, then wash off. Best method for those whom it just hurts too much to use overnight. Or a good way to ease into the product. (2) As a serum overnight = Use only a pea sized amount, dab it all over face, then I rub in with three fingers to make sure there's a thin layer throughout.
TIME OF YEAR TO START --- You should also think about what time of year you want to start using this because it takes a few months to adjust to the peeling & there are pros & cons to starting in winter/summer. WINTER = Pro is that since the product causes massive sun sensitivity which can make skin even worse, there's just less sun exposure in the winter. Con is that your skin is naturally more dry in the winter so the peeling and irritation will be worse. SUMMER = Pro is that your skin is more oily in the summer and less dry so peeling won't be as bad. Con is that the sun exposure is very dangerous and you will need to use sunscreen heavily & diligently.
PEELING -- YES, I definitely experience peeling and redness. Excessive dryness combined with fresh skin can cause even more wrinkles so you must moisturize well when using this. Aquaphor is your absolute best friend (and no, Vaseline is really not the same). My face didn't hurt because I use Aquaphor & Argan Oil to moisturize on days after. Increased sun sensitivity can also damage skin further so you must also apply a heavy sunscreen. You will definitely peel & look red at first. You may find that you will want to exfoliate BUT NOT WITH HARSH exfoliants. I apply a thin layer of Aquaphor & rub 2 fingers on the areas that are peeling. For those of you who want to wear makeup, I recommend using an Asian BB cream if you must apply makeup for those days afterwards. Asian BB creams are developed for post-chemical peels & plastic surgery. Just make sure you heavily moisturized your face & have sunscreen underneath
PURGING -- With prescription Retin-A, I did not experience any purging. To me, it seems counter-intuitive that you're supposed to "purge" because it's an acne treatment so it should not cause acne. I broke out from other OTC versions (ROC, Neutrogena, etc) & I believe that's a result of other ingredients that they add in the product. If you are breaking out from this product, it is likely from an ingredient, not from the retinol itself. Try a different but similar product such as Tazorac.
OVERALL --- Do you see a difference immediately? It depends but most likely, NO. At first you will peel a lot so it's hard to tell. For me, within a few days my face looked brighter even through the peeling. A few weeks, it was softer & wrinkles were smoothed. After a few months, my skin was more plump, smooth & bright. BUT, I have also tested & found that when I stopped using it even for 1 week, my face returned to its original state -- wrinkles and all. So it's not a miracle product & I'm not sure how I feel about having to use it for the rest of my life. Also, be careful not to use too much & too often because you'll get a horrible face much like Botox face -- tight, plump, but really unnatural and stiff looking. Definitely a product with some controversial pros & cons. So long as you're fully educated, it's safe & up to you to use.
I tried the Retin A about two years ago, when I was sixty. I have pretty good skin but I have some sun spots that stick out like a sore thumb. I despise, and have never worn, heavy foundation or concealer.
I think I should have applied it all over my face and neck; not just on the places where I have the sun spots because I have one place in particular that looks strange because the sun damage is there but then you can see where the cream migrated around the area and it's lighter than my regular complexion.
I tried putting on a tiny bit, using just the very tip of a Q-Tip but that didn't work either. Finally, one night and I still don't know what happened, it migrated all over my neck on one side and it hurt quite badly. It peeled and hurt for several days and I asked my pharmacist about it and he said he thought I appeared to be having an allergic reaction to it. He suggested I stop using it.
I have and I haven't had the nerve to put it back on. I use another product I mentioned in another post and that seems to work the best for me. All in all, I wish we'd had effective sunblock back in the good old days but since we didn't, I'm glad I don't have too many sun spots on my beautiful face! :D
FURTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION: 3-8-14:
Last year I went to a Dermatologist for a complete skin check. Duh! I didn't know I should have been doing it since I was 40 - my son had to tell me!
The doctor was checking my face and neck and stopped at the white spot I mentioned above. He said, "How did you get burnt here?"
I thought he was joking and told him I'd put prescription strength Retinol on it and it bleached the whole area. He pointed out, as if I didn't know, that the sun spot I had been trying to remove was still there. He asked how much it had hurt. (See above as to symptoms and pain.) He said the white area was not a "bleached" area as I had thought but the result of a 2nd Degree burn! He said it was a good thing I had stopped using it. He also said I should only use a product with Hydroquinone in it to fade the spots, which he said were minor. They're on my face and I thought they were major!
He told me to list Retin-A, under allergies, on my medical history and indicate it caused a 2nd degree burn. He cautioned me to check all products I plan to put on my face to make sure they had no Retinoids in them. I told him I had tried it on the inside of my arm first but for only a day. I know I should have tried it for at least seven days. He said with skin as sensitive as mine, I should try all skin products for at least ten days! Yikes! When I buy something I can't wait to use it right away!
Thought I'd pass along some very important information because I am, by nature, very careful of what I supplements I take and carefully read the contents of anything I'm going to use on my skin since I know I have sensitive skin. I was careless and what would I look like now if I had really put it all over my face, as I suggested in the 2nd paragraph of my original review?
The motto of the story is you can never be too careful what you put on your body and if it says to do a patch test; do it! And no matter what age you are, don't over-react to a little imperfection at the risk of causing a serious problem.
I have been using Retin A for several years, off and on. I would start using it, then see the peeling and redness, then I would stop. I never got past the initial month of using it, but I'm trying to do this now. My skin is very delicate and pale. I only wash my skin in the morning, so I apply the cream over any residual makeup and dead skin, which seems to work well as a buffer. I am still peeling a bit, but not nearly as bad as it was before. I have been using this now for a little over a week, and I haven't seen any improvements yet. I'm going to give it at least two months before I give up now. I apply it on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. I apply a pea sized amount to my face, and then I slather on rose hip oil over it. I wake up, and wash my face for a full minute with my fingers, gently, and I no longer use a wash cloth, because it irritates my skin and makes it peel more. I stopped washing my face at night, because I felt that it made my skin look irritated and red. My skin looks the best, the less I touch it, and the only reason I want to use Retin A, is because my dermatologist indicated that it is truly the only skin care ingredient that has been proven to help your skin. I will update my review in a few weeks, to let others know how my experiment is going. I have noticed more mild acne after I started using the Retin A, but nothing too serious. There is some flakiness, and the overall appearance of my skin is not very bright, but I hope this changes with time.
Update: I have been using the cream now for almost 4 weeks now, and my skin doesn't really look better. I have acne, which I usually don't have, and my skin is still peeling and a bit red. I am going to continue with it for another month, and then this is going in the garbage can. I am curious to see if the acne I have no will leave hyperpigmentation, because it feels like it is just surface spots, not the deep terrible spots that take months to totally go away. I will post again in a few weeks. I hope this is just from the initial irritation of the product, and my skin adjusts :)
Update: It has been nearly two months, and the red blotchyness of my skin has gotten a lot worse. It has helped me fade old acne hyperpigmentation, but I have red spots where I never had acne, so I'm sort of confused about what is happening. I hope this is just the final stage of "purging," because I will have to discontinue use, if the redness doesn't go away. I will update again in a month.
UPDATE: I have made peace with this product. I can use it exactly twice a week, and that is all, or my skin becomes way too irritated. I apply this on Thursday/Sunday nights, and I use a AHA on the other nights. I also don't apply this anywhere near my mouth; only on my cheeks and forehead. I have noticed that my skin looks tighter and the texture is smoother the morning after I use it. I think everyone needs to find their sweet spot with this product. More isn't necessarily better. If I use it twice a week, I still see the benefit, but I don't have any peeling or redness. This is good enough for me. My skin likes AHAs much better, so I will stick to using those for a majority of the time.
UPDATE: After giving up on this product for a few months, I came back to it and I have determined a much better way of applying this to my face without redness or irritation. I put a pea sized amount onto the palm of my hand, and I use two fingers to spread it on my palm, and then lightly pat it onto my face. For some reason, I can apply this every other night with no problems, when I apply it this way. When I applied it directly to my face, I always had redness and problems. I wanted to share this because this might work for someone else too.
Update: I stopped using Retin a for a bit because it was causing splotchy redness on my face, so I picked it up again about a month ago, and I figured out a way to apply it to my gentle skin. I now apply it every other day (AHA on alternate days) before bed. I first wipe witch hazel to my face with a cotton ball, wait for about 15 minutes, and then get a pea sized worth of Retin-A in my palm and take my middle three fingers from my other hand and rub it around on the palm of my hand so there is a very thin layer of on my fingertips. I then gently pat the product onto my cheeks and forehead and around my eyes, never rubbing. I have found that this application method has eliminated the redness/irritation problem. It has only been about a month, but I can see a difference in my skin and it appears to be more plump and youthful. I will update after 6 months of applying it to my skin using this new method :)
I wanted to like Retin-A so badly, considering the rave reviews for both acne and aging. I know things are expected to get worse before they get better, but I just couldn't deal with the side effects. I used it twice a week for several weeks, following all of the recommended guidelines for minimizing side effects (pea-sized amount applied on clean, dry skin, moisturizer, gentle exfoliation, etc.) and my skin looked absolutely horrible. It was a dull, greasy, broken-out, flaking mess. Maybe I'll try it again on small areas, like directly on sun spots or around my eyes, but never again on my whole face.
This is the only thing that I have found that will truly resurface skin and tackle wrinkles. Outside of more invasive procedures. There are some tricks to working with the stuff though.
#1) Let your face rest for about 20-30 minutes at night after you have cleansed. For some reason it likes a dry face.
#2) Use sparingly. I had a real detailed lesson in this from my plastics doc. And he is always right LOL
#3) Work you way from just a couple of times a week up to ever how many nights is good for you.
#4) Careful around your nose/nasal area...it can produce redness burning.
#5) Give it a minute to work, you didn't get those wrinkles over night. But given a chance it will work.
Patience, Dryness, SPF, Skin moisturizer. If you can commit up to 6 months every 3 days or 2 days you will slowly..(emphasize on SLOW) see results. Your hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, sunspots, acne will begin to fade. This is an amazing product that will do the job. I do get frustrated because of the dryness and I might need an upgrade on the percentage but my skin has lost pigmentation on my forehead and cheekbones. Still not 100% there yet but Im sure I'll get there soon :)