I've been on Retin A since November 2011 (six months)
These are the types I've used over the course of six months:
When I started this, I went in with the idea that I knew it would probably get worse before it got better, and that I had to stick with it and not skip any days in the beginning. I think if you have the same attitude, you'll get much better results in the end.
Before Retin-A I had combination/oily skin with occasional cystic acne breakouts on my T-zone and right cheek.
I hadn't gotten acne very badly until I used a silicone-based primer from MAC when I was 20 years old, and this had devastating effects on my skin that lasted for years (I'm now 24 and still dealing with the acne scars from that).
However, Retin -A has truly helped the scars, and I no longer have to worry about raised "about-to-become" pimples on my cheek.
I also rarely get any breakouts anymore. The last time I got a breakout was a couple of months ago when I smoked (something I do very rarely), and then put Retin-a on without cleansing my skin.
There are some draw-backs- for me it was the persistent peeling and redness. I had to pretty much start bronzing my neck and chest because my face is always a few shades pinker than the rest of my body, but that has definitely improved in the last few weeks.
Another problem I encountered was peeling. A great product is Dermalogica Microfoliant- this will completely smooth your skin if it is flakey in the morning, without being harsh (it's not a physical exfoliant, but rather just dissolves your dead skin).
Another thing to consider, is that when you start a Retin-A regimen, many skin products that you were using previously may not be a good fit for using in conjunction with Retin A. I can only use Burt's Bees Repair Serum around my eyes (day and night) and either an Origins moisturizer with spf, or my Elta MD spf moisturizer (but even that makes me irritated). Even the most gentle brands such as Korres sometimes do not go well with this, so be very careful because there are a lot of things that can irritate your skin when it is first getting used to Retin A.
I would recommend giving Retin A a try. It may be a bit harsh in the beginning, but for me it was worth it
Have a couple of different brands available for tretinoin sitting on my vanity. Am currently using Retin-A 0.05% but I've used Retacnyl 0.025% & 0.05% before, have only a couple of weeks' use left in my current tube of Retin-A and once that's done, I'll be moving on to Stieva-A 0.05%. These are all creams by the way. Only type I use 'cause only creams are available at my doctor's. I'll update on my thoughts on the Stieva-A later if anyone's interested. I've read many reviews where people say that there isn't much difference between the brands but I have noted some differences.
Retacnyl (by Galderma) comes in bigger tubes (30g), you'll tend to use more. Consistency's thinner than Retin-A and I found that my skin produced a lot more oil while I was on Retacnyl than on Retin-A. Sheets of skin came off while I was on Retacnyl since I tended to use more because of both the consistency and size of the tube. Shedding while on Retin-A is minimal compared to my experience on Retacnyl. But the marked difference is really the oil production.
Retin-A is a great product. I use it for acne. My doctor prescribed doxycycline, sulphur and differin to me when I first started to battle adult acne two years ago. I had asked to be put on tretinoin because a friend recommended I did. However, I used it with little faith.
Back then as my regimen was both doxy (7 months) and RA (12 months), I attributed the success of my acne clearing to the doxycycline and honestly, really didn't think much of the tretinoin except to blame the oily skin on it. I knew it faded the acne macules aka hyper pigmentation. But the mandatory break-in period was a nightmare. Scaly, patchy, flaky skin, cracked when I laughed or ate, redness when the weather got hot or I forgot to sun-protect, raw sores when I accidentally overlapped the tretinoin too close to the sulphur application. O, the pain of acne. Lasted a good 2-3 months? As you can understand, these things attributed to the lack of faith.
Without proper maintenance while on the product, the effects are carcinogenic. So as soon as my prescription ran out (12 months later), my skin by then had cleared to a porcelain-clear complexion, I thought - "yay, time to quit" and I never returned to the doc's for a refill.
Six months since quitting all acne treatment, BAM! Full-blown acne again. This time with a vengeance. Cystic and nodular acne all over the face, two-headed acne pustules etc and especially under the jaw. It started out first as only a few closed comedones on both sides of the cheeks. I was not looking to return to the doc's just yet and thought I could fix it using the acne.org regimen of benzoyl peroxide. Big mistake.
I read somewhere on the internet that benzoyl peroxide works best for young skin, not adult acne. I gave the regimen a good eight weeks of my life and I wish I had done thorough research on it because it really ruined my skin. I found out that because I had been on retin-a previously, my skin had been thinned out and the benzoyl treatment was just too harsh for my skin and damaged it further. For those of you suffering from back-with-a-vengeance acne, and were on some form of tretinoin treatment the first time around, do not go on the benzoyl-peroxide-only treatment. BP is for young skin that can take a harsh beating.
I was looking for answers, and I chanced upon youtube channel: bubblingbolster. If you watch her video diary, you'll get a visual idea of the kind of acne I suffered. I went back to the doctor still thinking that doxycycline will fix me, not tretinoin. And was put on a month's worth of doxy. 4 weeks later, the acne was still not subsiding. Every day I woke up to many active pustules. I was told, give it six weeks. So when I returned for a refill, and inspired by bubblingbolster's recovery, I asked for retin-a again. The doctor actually recommended Roaccutane but I refuse to go on that stuff because even without the oral tretinoin my acne was already making me suicidal and depressed, I didn't want to take something with side effects that would just intensify those feelings.
So 8 months from the last time I used retin-a, I returned to the treatment. Skin-memory kicked in and there was no averse first-time break-in reactions to the retin-a. Minimal peeling or dryness. However, of course there was the purging. This lasted four weeks where places which didn't have acne will erupt. However, I stuck with it. And now I'm in my fifth week and I can tell you, my skin is smooth. Eruptions are still coming, but they'll quickly become macules. Older macules are fading. Most importantly, the cystic and nodular stuff are erupting and flattening. I believe my skin will be better than it was before in a year's time because i've been on this treatment before.
Bottom-line. Do not get off this stuff once you start. Your skin will change its mechanics. The sebum in your skin will be more active and engineer themselves to treat p.acnes bacteria differently than they did before tretinoin re-engineered them and so if you have any inflammation/bacteria, your skin will attack the bacteria and remember that retin-a will do the sloughing off for it and thus not slough off on its own. Even if you stop, like I did and enjoyed clarity for 6 months, before your skin starts to remind you that it needs RA again by breaking out, do not seek other alternative treatments. It's your skin's reminder to you to get back on the RA. Tretinoin is a miracle product and you have to reconcile with the fact that it's a product you use for life. Don't get complacent and quit it.
* 1 & a half year update * Still on tretinoin. Relative clarity, complementing the treatment with clindamycin, tea tree oil for inflammatory acne on cheeks, between brows and chin. No longer have full-blown all-over-my-face acne - just targeted areas. Still seeing the benefits of using this product.
I began using Retin A last July, so I've been using it for about 10 months now.
Some background on my skin first. I have mild to moderate, persistent acne. Combination skin, with an oily t-zone. I have enlarged, raised pores around my nose area and very stubborn blackheads.
After 10 months of use, I feel fairly disappointed. I never got the miracle results that so many other users reported. I never got the bad initial breakout either, but my skin did get very, very dry and peeled horribly during the first few months. I would exfoliate in the morning, and be a peely mess by lunchtime. It was such a pain! At one point the peeling was so bad, I would have to reapply my makeup at work several times a day. (This was a necessity since I worked in a client-facing position and had to appear polished at all times).
I started with Retin-a-micro 0.04%, hoping the micro formulation would be more gentle to begin with. I used this for about 5 months and yet my skin never adjusted to it. I couldn't use it for more than three or four nights in a row without major skin irritation and peeling. Then, I decided to change to the cream version in 0.025%. My skin instantly liked this much better. But I also heard the cream version clogged pores for some people. So then I switched to the gel 0.025% which I am currently using now.
I will say that my acne has improved dramatically. I still get some pimples from time to time, especially around that time of the month, but less in number and severity. I notice they also heal a bit faster. Right now, I only have one active pimple which is a huge deal for me.
The main problem I have with Retin A, and my reasoning for my average rating, is that it has completely dried out my skin. I know Retin A is supposed to help with wrinkles. I'm only 21, so I only have a few small lines, but Retin A has made them more noticeable due to my skin's dryness. And my makeup never looks quite right due to my flaky skin texture. Physical exfoliation and moisturizer beforehand doesn't even completely alleviate this. Also, it seems nothing will help get rid of my stubborn blackheads. My forehead also has a few small tiny bumps; I'm not sure if Retin A has caused this or not.
I know a lot of people's experiences involved their old skin peeling away to reveal clear and beautiful skin underneath. This was not my experience at all! I'm still waiting for that wonderful skin. So would I buy again? Yes, because it has helped my acne. I am going to try some new moisturizers in the meantime to try to alleviate the side effects. I have heard essential oils work wonderfully, and I will try that next. It is worth noting that I have previously used clindamycin gel with success for acne. It never cleared up my acne as much as Retin A, but I'm not sure if Retin A is the better choice overall considering the side effects I am experiencing. I will continue using Retin A gel until my tube runs out before reevaluating whether or not I want to continue this regimen.
For the record, I purchased my Retin A online from alldaychemist. I was sure to use a temporary credit card number though, as I've read on forums of cases of fraudulent charges happening after ordering from there.
I have been using Retin-A on and off for over 20 years to treat acne. I get red and flaky if I overuse but it works great at smoothing the skin and getting rid of acne. I never use this all over my face especially my cheeks because it is too irritating. I currently have the maximum strength. Will ask my doctor to give me a lower strength so I can use it more often.
I was prescribed this by my doctor when I was about 14. I started off with Retin-A and she gave me a couple different strengths so I could work my way up. I mix it with a tiny bit of moisturizer for sensitive skin and apply it all over my t-zone. I now use Differin which is basically the same product but it also has SPF (possibly to cut down on the sun-sensitivity). I have extremely sensitive skin, and I have a sun allergy so I usually have a lot of problems if I'm in the sun too long anyway. This product makes my pores look tiny, and I rarely have breakouts around my t-zone anymore. The only thing you need to be extremely careful of is hair removal, I'm not really careful about applying this around my eyebrows, as once I actually had the skin ripped off which caused a lot of scabbing and pain.
I don't pay for this product as it is part of my healthcare so I can't speak to the price
i was first perscribed this by my doctor in early july for light to moderate acne scarring. after two weeks of use i had to stop. it caused extensive peeling and pain to my already sensitive skin. after a few months i decided to retry. now i couldn't imagine living without it! i use it every two to three nights and i only experience minor flaking on occasion. in about four months it has gotten a rid of about 85 percent of my scars and has cleared up the acne itself for the most part! i'm still amazed by this product and i'll continue to use. although summer is almost here again and i'm curious to see if it'll cause peeling again this summer... i really hope not!
This is a good product if you are using it in conjunction with oral antibiotics. Otherwise all it really does is make your skin purge forever and doesn't really help with the acne a bunch...
I figure if I should write a review about a product, it should be this stuff. I've used it for over 30 years, only discontinuing use during pregnancies, a few SD fare-ups, and a rosacea diagnosis. It's also the only product that I have used for more than 2 years. This can be some evil, wicked stuff if the strength is too high, or if used improperly. You need a good moisturiser, too. Currently I use Kinerase. You don't have to live with dry, parched skin, and you can avoid the bad purge that everyone speaks of, if you start with .01%, or .025%, and work your way up to .05%, and .1%. I started using this for acne when I was 11. Back then it came in a liquid form, and you blotted it on with a cotton ball, like a toner. I wish they would bring that back, because it was so much easier, and it didn't involve touching your face with your hands. You need to use sunscreen with RA. I didn't get religious about that until my mid 30s. I grew up in Los Angeles when a tan was considered healthy, but in my 30s I started getting 'red patches' on my face, that weren't quite lesions, but looked like they could become just that, and they were caused by the sun. Sunscreen is important when using this.. Retin A can cause permanent facial redness if used improperly. Most likely if the strength is too high. This became a cause of concern for me when I was diagnosed with rosacea. I had to come off this for 6 months, but my skin became worse, and then I was diagnosed with stress-induced rosacea. Don't be afraid to moisturise with RA. Start with a low strength and see how your skin responds. It's easier to back off and let your skin repair it's self, then to keep it up, and cause more damage, and inflammation, or just stop using it. A lot of purging is brought on by the inflammation. The less inflammed your skin is, the less likely you are to have purging. I've used RA the hard way, and the easy way. I currently use .1%, and I use it every night. I put it on at night, wait an hour, and then I put a moisturiser on over it. If I don't use a moisturiser, I will wake up to red, and inflammed skin, possibly with a cyst or 2. Inflammation will cause breakouts. I use the gel form of this, and not the creams. I don't like the creams. It's easier to use my own tried, and true, moisturiser, than to use the cream form. My skin doesn't like the creams, and it tends to cause breakouts. I'm probably allergic to something it's binded with, so I stick to the gel. When starting this, get a good moisturising facial cleanser, too. Nothing with BP, fruit acids, or salicylic acid. At least until you have completed the intial 4 months. Be careful when using body washes that contain SA, too, if you are using this on your neck, and/or chest. If you get that body wash on your neck/chest, you are going to be very uncomfortable, and it's likely to cause peeling, and inflamation. You want to avoid as much peeling/redness/inflammation/purging as possible, and a good lotion cleanser is in order. I use Eminence Red Rose Cleanser and a Cetaphil antibacterial bar for sensitive skin. I use the bar on my body, and sometimes my face, if I'm in a rush. Don't use a Clarisonic when starting this, you may rip the skin off your face. I do use a Clarisonic sometimes, but only for a deep cleaning once or twice a week. My aging skin does not need it, and won't tolerate the Clarisonic more than that. I do have rosacea, and RA keeps the rosacea acne at bay. I'm 42, and still deal with breakouts. This isn't a cure for acne, but it helps. It's been a very long time since I'm had a monster zit, or cyst. I tend to try new sunscreens, and if I get a zit, I know it's caused by that, because I won't get just one. The redness I get with rosacea is caused by stress. I wake up with a normal even skin tone, but as the day progresses, my face turns beet red. My derm thought my many years of RA use had permanently dialated the blood vessels, but that hasn't been the case for me. The sun can cause this type of damage, too, so you need to give up the sun even if you choose to not use RA. When I have gone off RA, and then started it back up again, for whatever reason, I have always started with the .025% gel. My skin is combination, dry on checks, and a tad oily in the t-zone. I've always had minimal peeling, with no redness. I have started with .05%, and had major redness/peeling/purging, so starting low is best. When the tube is gone, you can go up. There's a reason everyone says a pea sized amount. Less is more. You're just wasting the product if you use more. The lower strength gels don't 'spread' as easily as the higher strength, but a pea sized amount can be achieved. It's easier if you dab it on three fingers, and then touch your cheecks, and forehead, then work into your skin. The creams are easier to spread, so there's no excuse for using more than a pea sized amount with those. It just takes time with the gels because they dry quickly. You need to wait until your face is completely dry after cleansing, like 20 mins. before you put this on. Sometimes I don't have the time after taking a Lunesta, so I use my blow dryer on cold and that solves the problem. You don't want to put this on a moist or wet face. My derm says it doesn't matter, as long as your face has been towel dried, but I disagree. I've put this on after a shower, and the results have always been more redness. As for it's antiaging properties, I can honestly say that I look like I'm in my mid to late 20s. I was a tanner up until my mid 30s. I grew up, and live in a sunny climate, and I've had some blister sunburns, too. I have no laugh lines, or crows feet, and I am now just getting fine lip lines. I was also a smoker until I was 38.. I am just now considering having a filler for those. It does slow down the aging process, but it takes years of continuious use.
Using for anti-aging about 9 years. IMO it has lessened the onset of wrinkles. It will not stop aging but my skin seems about the same as someone 8-10 years younger. There has been a bit of a learning curve, staying in tune with my skin's needs. Now I buy the strongest strength (0.1%) and buffer as needed.
When getting skin use to retin-a, start on low dose and slowly build up to 5days a week. Also don't force yourself into a rigid routine too rapidly; it'll just put you back as you wait for your skin to recover.
Hints others have mentioned/What works for me:
1-Wait about 30 after washing face to apply.
2-Skip a day or buffer if skin feels tight. I use a drop or two of argan oil.
3-If face feels tight and very uncomfortable after application I'll add argan oil (or good moisturizer) on top.
4-When my skin starts showing flakes under makeup I back off for a few days.
5-At least SPF30 everyday. Higher in the summer. Your skin will become sun sensitive and you can get hyperpigmentation more easily if you neglect sunscreen.
6-Overall skin treated with retin-a tends to be drier so find moisturizers that work for you.
7-I skip more nights or add more buffer on my neck, which is more sensitive.
8-Now I use it about 3 nights a week for maintenance and skip a few weeks in the summer.
Disclaimer: The above is only my experience with retin-a and in no way should be taken instead of advice from a licensed physician.
Retin-A did nothing good to my skin. I used it few times for couple of months. It always broke me out my skin was extra dry. It was really difficult to apply make up. I will never use this again.
UPDATE: Retin-A cream contains a highly comedogenic ingredient called Isopropyl Myristate. Yet, dermatologists routinely prescribe it for people with acne prone skin. (Internet search)