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Treatments (Face) - Retin A

rated 4.1(517 reviews)

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

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rated 5 of 5 on 8/28/2011 9:14:00 PM More reviews by Gaeia

Age: 36-43 Skin: Combination, Other, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

When I use Retin-A I can definitely see the difference from one day to the next, while non-prescription Retinol creams made little difference on my skin. I speak only for the anti-aging properties here only btw. Most of the retinol stuff from Laszlo to Roc, ended up in the "Huh, face products I might revisit someday or might use even on my body if I ever run out of body lotions haha" drawer which is really the drawer of "Empty promises, one step from the wastebasket." B/C what if I throw something out that I find out later is- argh! Denial, Denial, yes, I know!

Of course I had to share this stuff with my husband who was startled to also wake-up with noticeably smoother skin- if a little pinker- the next day! That said, Retin-A is very dear: I was shocked at the price (as I can't be bothered to pay $600 a month to a middleman insurance company so they can dole out my doctor's care, decide which of his prescriptions is appropriate, or tell me I can only see a Dr. of their choice, harrumph. This is why medical care is so expensive right?!) Anyway enuff about that: after I tried the tiny tube my doc gave me I became willing to fork over that amount of cash. I would wait 'till after you are 30, also- truly- as I imagine it would be more irritating than visibly effective. In any case I use it @ once a week, always with a hydrating cream on top. I use Kiel's avocado eye cream which does not migrate to block the retin a from my eyes which are v. easily irritated. Oh, and the pump on the first bottle did not work and I had to exchange it- so make sure to keep the box!! just in case this happens to you.

In addition, I am huge on glycolic/ lactic/ salicylic acip peels that I discovered through this board- THANK YOU!!! It's made everything else pale in comparison, really (weird that estee, ysl, lancome, sisley etc don't incorporate aha/ bha's- I'd buy!) OK, so, that said, after a pedicure 2 yrs ago I developed a thickening of the skin on the sole of one of my feet (Why? Why? Oh, Why?!!!! I only go for polish changes now, sigh). Horrified, I asked my dr for help: she prescribed a salicylic acid cream. OMG love that stuff too Overnight my face & body (and feet!) are smooth- and because it's essentially "aspirin mask cream-" it's very inexpensive. I like both- so I incorporate the retinA and the other cream Saltop into my beauty ritual @ once a week.

OK, now, I must say this because of what sort of cream this is: for the record, I do not envy the owner of this site her task- trying to decide which reviews are genuine, and which are not (& this may be the wrong place to address this but.... since this product comes in both cosmetic and pharmaceutical strength/ grade, perhaps it IS the right place...as it's harder than usual to see through that marketing...) OK, here goes: I am lucky to speak three languages and understand several more: I worked with and am very adept at parsing language, and the past year has been a banner year for "fake reviews" on sites like this one and for "fake comments" by special interests on news sites. As an aside, I can guarantee you that some company reps are parked on the boards here. It's a delicate rope the owner must walk, and it's a lot of work, I'm sure. Just know this: the cosmetic & drug company PR flacks will continue to post- and I see more than just a few below, so be JUDICIOUS fellow MUA'ers- and be GOOD the rest of you- and use this board as a barometer rather than for misrepresentation.) -G

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rated 1 of 5 on 8/27/2011 11:14:00 PM More reviews by samantha6

Age: 36-43 Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Neutral Hair: Blond, Wavy, Fine Eyes: Blue

8 months of acne, redness, dryness, scaliness, broken capillaries, swelling even. Wanted to be a perfectionist, heading off aging before it started. People actually asked me what was wrong with my face.

Stopped using it (the lowest strength cream) and face is back to normal.

After my experience, I read the reviews for it here, b/c I wanted to know how this stuff got a 4 rating overall when I experienced such horrible agony. So I started with the lowest rated reviews first, the 1 lippies...

From 1 lippie all the way up to 5 lippies, mostly everyone has the same complaints - nasty acne, redness, scaling, flaking, swelling, acne, broken capillaries. I would have thought that the high ratings wouldn't have anything bad to say, but that's not the case.

Even reviewers that gave medium to high ratings said that Retin-A caused embarrassing or undesirable side effects, for long periods of time. I must have been an idiot to use this stuff.

Yes, some people EVENTUALLY got good results, but after months of suffering. For others, it NEVER got better. I'm off this stuff and skin is back to normal, pale, acne free, and not swollen.

WISH I WOULD HAVE READ THE REVIEWS, BEFORE I EVER EVEN TRIED THIS STUFF.

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rated 4 of 5 on 8/24/2011 11:16:00 AM More reviews by welfaresteak

Age: 25-29 Skin: Combination, Other, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

I am almost 27 and at the age of 26 the acne that I had as a teenager came back largely due to stress. I had been on a prescription of BP for awhile, but like with most medications, after years and years of taking it, it just stopped being affective on my skin. My doctor saw my skin and gave me a prescription for Retin A ($10 at Kaiser with my plan).

For the first month of using it, I did see an improvement with my skin however I went through something embarrassing which I hear is common when starting Retin A- the skin peeling off. I would wash my face well in the morning with my Clarisonic, apply an oil free moisturizer, and then put on my makeup. Within a couple of hours, you would see a ton of dry skin hang off of my face (usually my chin and above my mouth). Super embarrassing!

While the first month was torture, afterward the dry skin got minimal. I found also that not using it everyday helps.

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 8/24/2011 10:51:00 AM More reviews by LizWords

Age: 30-35 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine Eyes: Brown

Update 8/14/2012: I said I would update a year later in my initial review and so I am. I am still faithfully using retin a and I do say that I am now a lifer. It has done wonders on scars and marks, I now wear the least amount of makeup than I have in about a decade. I also, at 31, started to be asked if I'm 25 A LOT (it will be so sad when this stops happening, i can't look 25 forever :(). I now apply .05 to my temple area only, the rest of my face gets .025. I started doing this because I wanted better results on the lines in between my brows and it has worked VERY well. The lines around my mouth are basically gone now, I used to see makeup setting in them but not anymore. I'm bumping this up to 5 lippies and recommending to all ladies. Just make sure you start on a very low strength and ramp up and you will not regret it.


I've had an interesting year with Retin A. I

decided I wanted to try it shortly after the new year but I had no intention of paying hundreds of dollars for it so I ordered some of the .1% gel from ADC. I tried to make the gel work for about a month, but it gave me the worst breakouts of my life and left my skin red and flaky and burnt looking even when i buffered it down with regular moisturizer and applied it twice a week. I went off of it after about a month and let my skin recover for a bit.

When my skin was looking relatively normal again I started using Retinol Resq nightly to prime my skin for starting retin-a again. I had no adverse reaction to this, in fact i still use it a couple times a month when i'm taking a night off of the retin-a. I did this for a month and then started using the .025% cream. This made all the difference. I really think it was the alcohol in the gel that made my skin freak out so badly, because I barely got any initial reaction from the weaker cream version and I was slathering ample amounts of it on everyday. Now I've been using the cream for about 5 months. I use it every night, ample amounts of it as it's usually my only moisturizer at night (at least in the summer), and I exfoliate every day with my nutrasonic. I also started using Paula's Choice toners and moisturizers and the occasional bha/aha. I'm proud to say my skin looks pretty dang good right now. I still get the occasional zit during my monthly, but it goes away quickly and it's never very large. I do use some mild BP products when i get my period, i use it in conjunction with the RA and it seems to work just fine, preventing hormonal breakouts.

I've noticed the fine lines between my eyes have diminished significantly. I turned 30 last spring and was starting to notice my makeup falling into those creases, that isn't happening anymore. YAY

My skin is still not perfect, i can still see some shadows from the scars my first round with RA gave me, but they faded really fast. My skin is very smooth and more even-toned that its ever been. Do I got to work without makeup now? No, it didn't perfect my skin, but it did make it better. I'd like to try bumping it up to the .05% cream this Fall. I'm in the sun A LOT in the summer and didn't notice any additional irritation this year, although i always wear sunscreen. I did tan as well, even wearing sunscreen every time i'm in the sun does not keep me from tanning, i'm just in the water so much. At any rate, my face did match my body half way through the summer, the retin-a didn't keep me from getting a tan, but i have to say that the tan fades faster on my face now. Oh well, nothing a little makeup can't fix.

I will update again at the 1 year mark. Right now I'm planning on starting the high dose around the beginning of October. Good luck everyone.

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rated 4 of 5 on 8/21/2011 6:21:00 PM More reviews by Varuca

Age: 36-43 Skin: Combination, Fair, Warm Hair: Red, Wavy, Fine Eyes: Blue

Gets a "4" from me since it has been such a challenge to find one that works for me, but overall, I'm a huge fan.
1996: I started back then because I had an intense bout of cystic acne. Tetracycline didn't help. Doxacycline didn't help. Benzoil Peroxide and Salasylic Acid didn't help!! My dermatologist put me on Retin-A + Accutane, and frankly, IT DIDN'T HELP. He doubled my dose of Accutane, told me to stop the Retin-A, and finally it stopped. Whew!
Fast-forward to 2006: I start breaking out because of stress in grad school. NOOOOOOOO! A friend told me to get Retin-A Micro 0.1% gel, so I did. I figured, "It'll help with the new tiny lines and other aging stuff, too, right?" OMG, what a nightmare! I spent 6 weeks "adjusting" to it while my face burned, turned red, flaked CONSTANTLY, and I was miserable. It hurt to smile because my face would crack. I always looked like I had face dandruff. I hated it! Just when my skin began to adjust, I developed a nasty allergy to it, and had to quit. Every time I got Retin-A Micro anywhere near my face I broke out in a red, bumpy, itchy rash.
Fast-forward to 2011: I had a series of RF facials @ a laser center for "skin rejuvenation" and one of the things that was "rejuvenated" was my breakouts. AWESOME. I asked my doctor to let me try Retin-A cream again, and WOAH--IT WORKED! I had to adjust again, but this time it only took a few weeks. I did get stupid and ask for an 0.05% script b/c I thought I could handle it, but it just made me burn again, and the rashes came back. FAIL. I went back down to 0.025%, and I'm doing great. I even use this around my eyes (indeed, my acne was bad enough that I had big zits on my upper and lower lids!). I usually use a moisturizer on my lids, top & bottom, to cut the power down, but it has been helping firm up the crepey skin and it has also been fading the small wrinkles I have under each eye and shrinking 2 small skin tags I have on my left lid. My face looks brighter, my skin is firmer & clear, and I feel great. I am to the point now (after 8 weeks) where I am able to use it every night, and I can use my Clarisonic every day again.
If you choose to try Retin-A, be aware of your skin's sensitivity level. If you want to try Retin-A Micro, remember that more sensitive skin will have a WORSE reaction to this stuff as it continuously distributes the active ingredient instead of allowing your skin to rest. ONLY apply at night, and never overdo it thinking "more will help faster." If your face struggles with the adjustment period for a few weeks (burning, flaking, even breakouts), then just keep using it until you adjust because you will. Never assume a stronger prescription is going to work better because that could just tear your face up. This is a wonderful product for acne and anti-aging, as well as reversing sun damage. They prescribe this to people who are high risk for skin cancer. I feel like a million dollars because of it, and I am on the lowest dose. After 15 years of trial & failure, I finally found my happy medium with Retin-A, and it was worth revisiting multiple times! I love how it helps revitalize & tighten my skin, flushes out blackheads, and keeps pimples at bey. I also love that I can tell all the lines on my face are slowly but surely diminishing, as are the couple of age spots and freckles that I find so annoying.
This is not a medication you can review after using once--it takes a minimum of 4 weeks for a full cellular turnover of our skin, so no one will see a real difference overnight. Since there is an adjustment period, it is easy to decide it is a horrible product if you quit before adjusting. I'd suggest taking it slow, follow the instructions, and give it at least a month to 6 weeks before reviewing or quitting. Always remember that there are many different vehicles (gel, liquid, cream, and micro gel) for this medication, and at least 3 different powers (0.025%, 0.05%, & 0.1%), so if one doesn't work, maybe you just need an adjustment. If you're like me and discover you are allergic, check the power--I cannot use anything stronger than 0.025%, but the cool part is: I CAN use 0.025%! This is going to be more effective than any other retinol/retinoid product available OTC, & I really love it, in spite of my trials in the past.

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rated 5 of 5 on 8/21/2011 5:34:00 PM More reviews by vixiepixie27

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

I think this stuff works good...I'm using it for evening out my skin tone and making my skin look more youthful than dull due to stress...NIGHT: Because I have dry skin, I wash my face with Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Fresh (pink bottle), and then take a pea size of Retin A, dot it all over my face, and then rub/smear it in..MORNING: wash my face again and I use Cetaphil Cream as eye cream and only apply where my face is dry...I only apply Retin A every other day because it is pretty drying..I did notice that Retin A made me break out a little bit for about a week when i first started using it, but it wasn't so bad and it's gone..Overall, I think this is something people should just try out for whatever reaon, and I'm using it to take care of my skin because i heard it's something good to start using in your 20's..

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rated 4 of 5 on 8/8/2011 5:26:00 PM More reviews by saylorsoul

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Brown, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Brown

from a teenager(15)s perspective retin a is pretty godly. it sucks because your face cant get tan because its constantly being shed and renewed because thats what retina does. however it really helps clear your acne up so its worth it. i still get a lot of acne around my period but not nearly as much as i used to without it. whatever you do make sure you get PRESCRIBED retina because i tried to use it without a dermatologist and it just made my skin get worse. please go to a dermi

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rated 4 of 5 on 8/4/2011 11:59:00 AM More reviews by msgummibear

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Acne-prone, Olive, Not Sure Hair: Blond, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Brown

This is probably one of the best acne treatments I have used. It only took 1 night for me to see a difference. I could only really see a difference on my forehead, but about 20% of acne was gone. I will keep using this!

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 8/3/2011 7:17:00 PM More reviews by wagashi

Age: 25-29 Skin: Oily, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Green

I've waited for a little over a year to review this product, which I don't really do very often. This one product I really wanted to experience before I reviewed. I can now officially say that this is the best stuff I've ever used on my skin, although times haven't always been awesome. I had no idea how much stronger RA would be than my old Differin so I totally slathered it on when I first got it and even used my good old BHA the morning after. PEEL AND BURN CITY. I am an avid sunscreen wearer so luckily my head didn't explode from sunburns at the same time (wear your SS when you use this product, oh lordy!). After that I went a little easier, but unfortunately I still peel (some people say they stop peeling after however many months, but this hasn't happened for me unfortunately). Using a cloth to wipe off peelies in the morning is helpful.

Anyway, how does RA work on acne? AMAZING. Breakouts will be decimated overnight (with the 1% which is the strongest formulation, at least). I love waking up the day after I use RA to see anything that had popped up being 90% healed. In the year I've been using it I've had some periods of disuse, and I've always broken out during them. This really keeps my intensely breakout-prone skin as clear as I believe it can possibly be. A+++++ for acne.

How does it work for anti-aging? Not so sure. I know my skin looks clearer and tighter when I wake up in the morning, but I don't have much in the way of wrinkles to test on. BUT, I can definitely tell that if I keep using this my skin will look better in a few years than if I had never used it, for sure.

I've tried using RA at the same time as some other actives to help heal any breakouts I've gotten along the way, but I have a penchant for overdoing it and I've finally realized that with RA, less really can be more. Nowadays I use RA as my only active every other day with perhaps a 3 day break with a peel of some sort in the middle every now and then. This is how my derm told me to apply, and it's helped reduce peeling and irritation a lot:

Apply a 1/3rd of a pea sized amount of RA to the tip of one of your fingers, dot it on to the rest of the tips of your fingers, lightly tap it all over your face, then rub in. I find that when I do it this way it still works on my clogged pores and acne but I'm usually able to wipe off all my peelies in the shower, whereas before I would think I had wiped them off in the shower, put on my makeup, go to work, and find that all the parts I didn't get with the washcloth were newly freed and peeling off in huge chunks D: Not a good look!

Anyway, I would recommend this to everyone on earth, but please start slow and wear sunscreen!

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rated 2 of 5 on 8/2/2011 8:38:00 PM More reviews by 4711

Age: 36-43 Skin: Normal, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

Have been using for about ten years. Helps with acne. Can't say for fine lines. HOWEVER, and this is a HUGE however - you do not want to stop using it...and I mean, like EVER. I stopped for a year or so. Skin was abhorrant. Face became covered in a hard, scaly, thick layer, & it was red, dry, fine lines around the eyes, acne...on top of it. A MESS. No scrub, no toner, no washcloth could cut through this unusually hard, 'scaly', almost 'fish like' layer on my skin. The dermatologist said that since Retin-A speeds up cell turnover, your skin - after becoming used to Retin-A for years - could become VERY, VERY LAZY, if you ever stop using it, and could exfoliate and renew itself even slower, than if never having used Retin-A at all. Her advice to me...go back on it, and never get off it. She asked me if I planned on having children, I said no (can't use this stuff while pregnant or breast feeding) and then said, "It's not like your ever going to have children and it's not like you're ever going to be stranded on a tropical island and won't be able to have access to the drug". I quickly went back on it, feeling kind of bummed that at this point, I really had no choice, and wishing that someone would have told me this before I ever started on it. My face turned around after a few months. I am still on it, and am happy. My skin is smooth and acne free again. And yes, broken capillaries do abound, and I yes, I do constantly flake and peel, but at least I don't look like a LIZARD or a FISH. A great product, just a heads up to those that are considering it.

15 out of 22 people found this review helpful. Did you? Yes No