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)
Plenty has been said about this but I thought I'd try and offer something a little different having read quite a few reviews.
Many have said they can't tolerate it, they've tried it at 0.025% etc, 0.05% and it's too much. I use 0.01% and I can use this every single day. That's enough, you just want to gently exfoliate the top layer. If you've had problems try the lower strength. I tried 0.025% and I couldn't use it every day (generally could use it 3-4 times a week). Doctor prescribed 0.01% to see if that made a difference. My skin is a lot better now because it's not irritated, I can use it everyday, it's clearer and there are far fewer hormonal spots than there were on 0.025%. I had used Avene diacneal for a few years before and I don't have sensitive skin, it's quite tolerant. So if you're using it and it's too much, perhaps switch to a lower strength, as you can see from the reviews on here it's helped many people, so don't give up :-)
Secondly I think the lower strength is also very good for anti-aging. It can't be good long term to be irritating your skin. Not to mention when you irritate it you add more products like moisturisers which can cause congestion.
Skincare products that I've found work well with retin-a
I use a microfibre cloth (gently) and water with these two products.
Dr Nick Lowe purifying foam cleanser - I use this first, removes make-up, isn't harsh and is amazing for clearing up spots. I would really recommend this to anyone with spots. Get it from Boots in the UK plus from Dr Nick Lowes websites. Boots often has offers on the range.
I then follow with Garniers Simply essentials comforting cleansing milk for sensitive skin. Incredibly cheap, wasn't expecting much but this is amazing. Removes that last bit of makeup. Gently rinse off with the microfibre cloth, no film, but left with soft skin.
I take a night off about once a week and use a clay mask followed by a moisturising mask.
I recommend Good Things 5 minute facial - clay based but gentle.
Boots No7 Heavenly Hydration or cheaper and just as effective but cheaper Boots traditional cold cream cleanser, use as a mask and follow with cleanser. Mineral oil is not a pore clogger, it's not just me saying that, it's got the lowest possible pore clogging rating an ingredient can have yet it's also one of the most emollient.
Ren also has a sulphur mask which is very gentle and many skins respond well to sulphur so it's worth considering. I use sulphur soap on my body and it works.
Day time - Dr Nick Lowe's oil control day cream - no SPF unfortunately so I ensure my foundation has it. Really does help with the oilies.
Night time - at the moment Vichy's aqualia for dry skin in a jar. Makes my skin shiny within minutes so not an attractive look but it does moisturise decently and doesn't clog at all. Not sure if I will repurchase. Have some other moisturisers to try first.
Serum - M&S ceramide collagen serum - doesn't clog like the No7 serum, moisturises unlike the No7 serum. Tried the Vichy aqualia serum before that, waste of money. The M&S is a good make-up base too. No idea if it's doing anything anti-aging wise though. For reviews of it see the M&S site.
Also I find Bourgois Healthy Mix and No17 (boots) BB cream are light foundations that also do not clog pores. Healthy mix doesn't have SPF though. No17 has SPF25.
None of the above have clogged pores at all, if you're like me then you have tonnes of skincare + make-up items which has cost you a fortune and say non-comdegenic yet do clog or don't suit your skin I hope it's of use to some people.
Sorry it's a long one, but as you can see retin-a has helped so many people hopefully some of the info above will help make it work for you.
When this product was first prescribed to me I was reluctant to try it because I really didnt want to wait 3 months to see results, however on my 18th birthday I felt so miserable about my skin that I decided to give it a try,and Im really glad I did! the first few weeks were HORRIBLE however I knew that good things would come, my skin became soo sensitive, red, peely, irritated and all the usual symptoms. However with maintenance and time the acne and redness and peeling really decreased. the only side effect that is long lasting would be the sensitivity my skin has towards waxing or anything hot, and also sensitivity to cold weather...I really think everyone should give retin A a chance because it could really change the quality of your skin
hope this helps!