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Treatments (Face) - Retin A

rated 4.1(519 reviews)

  • Average Rating: 4.1
  • 82% would buy again
  • Package Quality: 3.7
  • Price: $$$

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rated 5 of 5 on 6/8/2012 12:50:00 AM More reviews by catherinesophia

Age: 30-35 Skin: Normal, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

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 :)

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rated 1 of 5 on 6/7/2012 1:02:00 PM More reviews by lsquires12

Age: 30-35 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Red, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

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.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 5/24/2012 11:48:00 PM More reviews by JayLammMD

Age: 44-55 Skin: Normal, Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Other

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.

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rated 4 of 5 on 5/24/2012 10:08:00 PM More reviews by JaneDoeDude

Age: 19-24 Skin: Very Dry, Fair-Medium, Cool Hair: Brunette, Straight, Coarse Eyes: Brown

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 :)

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 5/19/2012 3:31:00 PM More reviews by angiee0215

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Warm Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Green

This cleared up my acne and a tube lasts me about a year. After my insurance and my mail in rebate it costs me about 65 dollars. I use a gentle cleanser in the morning and an anti bacterial cleanser at night. I had moderate acne and now i only get a pimple or two here or there depending on my stress levels! I LOVE THIS STUFF. Plus it is anti aging

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rated 2 of 5 on 5/17/2012 12:03:00 PM More reviews by MADISONABBY

Age: 36-43 Skin: Acne-prone, Other, Not Sure Hair: Black, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

honestly i am not sure what rating to give... i've been using retin a for one year. different strenghs, the gel, the cream. i use it like i'm supposed to. i wait thirty minutes after i was my face, i use a gentle cleanser....i've done everything i know and my face looks the same if not worse. i put it all over my face..being very careful around my eyes but i mostly starting using it for a lip line i have above my lip. it started out as one and now there is three...i just started getting the other two WHILE using the retin a. EVERYTHING I read and my dermatologist says that its a good thing your using it you might have more !!! well...its kinda funny to me that i've GAINED two JUST since i've been using the retin a. i started using it in hopes it would make the ONE i had would get a least a little better and hope that i can keep from getting more !!!! but the one i have is maybe a little worse now and i've gained TWO...what the heck??? !!!! i'm REALLY thinking its BECAUSE i;ve been using the retin a that i;ve gotten these..how can i gain TWO more jsut in the year i;ve been using this ???? does anyone have the same experience as me ?? i'm afraid to KEEP using it and/or afraid to STOP using it !!! please help !! am I making things worse for myself ???

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rated 1 of 5 on 4/29/2012 3:50:00 PM More reviews by GreenEyedGirl11

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Green

This product never cleared up my skin and put me through a lot of emotional pain. I don't recommend this product at all.

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rated 4 of 5 on 4/22/2012 11:46:00 PM More reviews by calzz

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine Eyes: Brown

I've been on Retin A since November 2011 (six months)

These are the types I've used over the course of six months:
0.025
0.05
0.1

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

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rated 5 of 5 on 4/14/2012 11:28:00 AM More reviews by delias29

Age: 19-24 Skin: Oily, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

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.

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rated 3 of 5 on 4/13/2012 8:37:00 PM More reviews by shi000

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Black, Straight, Medium Eyes: Brown

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.

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