Retin A


533 reviews

82% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.7

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 3.7

Price: $$$


Retin A Cream Each g of cream contains: tretinoin 0.01%, 0.025%, 0.05% or 0.1% in a bland, hydrophilic base. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, isopropyl myristate, polyoxyl (40) stearate, purified water, sorbic acid, stearic acid, stearyl alcohol and xanthan gum. Retin A Gel Each g of gel contains: tretinoin 0.01% or 0.025%. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, ethanol undenatured and hydroxypropyl cellulose. Retin-A Liquid (0.05% Tretinoin w/w) polyethylene glycol 400, butylated hydroxytoluene and alcohol (denatured with tert-butyl alcohol and brucine sulfate) 55%

Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Tan, Warm

Hair: Brown, Relaxed, Fine

Eyes: Brown


HG status for me. I'm an African American in my late 20s. I've had acne issues in varying degrees since puberty. Two years ago I began using Retin A and I've noticed such a difference. I rarely ever have a pimple anymore. An added bonus is that it fights wrinkles and fine lines, according to my dermatologist.

I use sunblock in the daytime and apply this every third night. This prescription is pricey- thank God for health insurance!

A good quick description of this product is that it is this product is microdermabrasion in a tube.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

on 9/6/2011 8:14:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Hazel

First of all, I'm giving Retin-A five stars because it WORKS, not because it's easy.


For the first time since I hit puberty my skin has been perfectly clean for weeks on end. Retin-A has been instrumental in clearing up my moderate, occasionally cystic and necrotic acne, reducing the size of my pores, tightening my skin, and lightening my acne hyper-pigmentation scars to almost nothing (not to mention evening out and lightening my freckles and overall complexion). I wore nothing but tinted moisturizer for the first time the other day and attained a look that I formerly needed foundation, concealer, powder, and a good skin-day to achieve.

Getting to this point was, however, a bitch. It took my regimen at least five months to start working because I kept messing up in little ways; to get it to work for me I had to learn to stick to all of the following guidelines:

You will of course have an adjustment period of breakouts and irritation while your skin "purges" and acclimates to the medicine for a few weeks at the beginning. The breakouts are inevitable, BUT the irritation should be minimized to the best of your abilities. Dermatologists recommend starting your regimen with a small application once every other day or once every three days and working your way up. I can back this up from experience, along with my personal suggestion that you be patient! There's no rush to get up to using it every day, and you can lay off every now and then when you finally do start using it every day without any drawbacks. Retin-A is NOT meant to be used on raw skin, and if your skin is dry and irritated it can actually make your acne much worse for much longer. The worst breakouts of my life were on Retin-A before I managed to get my skin balanced out on it. Tough out the adjustment period at the beginning, and if after the first month or two you're still having dryness and irritation issues you likely need to adjust your regimen in one of the following ways:

* Don't apply too much or too little of the medication- if your skin isn't getting enough of the medication it won't work (personally I've found I need more than the recommended "pea-sized" amount), but if you use too much it'll dry you out, naturally making your acne worse.

* Don't leave it on too long. 7-9 hours TOPS is about all my skin can handle nightly. If I leave it on even a half hour longer than that my skin gets too dry, even flaky, and each successive application just makes the problem (and resulting breakouts) worse.

* Don't scrub too hard when you wash your face. You may need to LIGHTLY exfoliate with a washcloth once or twice a day, or not at all. I scrubbed way too hard for a long time at the beginning in desperation to get the dry skin flakes off, prolonging the adjustment period and making my skin worse. Be patient and listen to what your skin's telling you!

* Take a night or two off the regimen when, for whatever reason, your skin is getting too dry and/or aggravated. Apply a good moisturizer and let your skin heal.

When it comes right down to it, all Retin-A does is increase cell turnover; it's the equivalent of a constant, low-level, dermabrasion peel. It works by expelling and preventing whiteheads & blackheads, which are the precursors of all mild-to-moderate acne, and improving general skin quality. All it does is put you on the same level as someone whose genetic makeup doesn't suck quite so much- you still need to cleanse, disinfect, and practice good skin-hygiene just like everyone else. Even your friend with perfect skin probably uses Neutrogena or some equivalent daily. Personally I couldn't tell what worked and what didn't work for me before Retin-A because I was constantly breaking out ALL the time. Retin-A enabled me to tell which products I could get away with using on my skin, and which products caused breakouts and needed to be nixed. With Retin-A as your base, you still need to practice the following:

* Use in tandem with a GENTLE cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. (Or your dermatologist may prescribe a topical antibiotic cleanser and/or leave-on treatment.) While adjusting to Retin-A I found my Neutrogena wash with Benzoyl Peroxide was too harsh for my skin (even though it was helping out a lot before), so I switched over to their all natural version with Willow Bark extract (aka Salicylic Acid), and my skin got markedly better over the course of just a week.

* Try using a moisturizer, toner, or makeup base that controls acne during the day. I would keep getting zits and problem areas developing during the day between applications of Retin-A and my skin never fully cleared up until I started using Clean & Clear's Dual Action Moisturizer with a .5% salicylic acid component. (I also use this moisturizer overnight when I want to take a break from my regimen when my skin's getting a little too dry. It's usually moisturizing enough to heal minor damage while still keeping my acne under control for short periods.)

* Make sure you remember to use a GOOD moisturizer daily and as needed; you have to take extra care in keeping your skin nourished and hydrated on Retin-A.

* Use a broad-spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreen daily to protect your skin as it's more susceptible to damage on this medication.

* Make sure most/all of the products you use on your face are non-comedogenic (I find this is especially important for your moisturizer and sunscreen,) and don't contain any harsh chemicals that can interfere with the medication. A good thing to look for- and avoid- are products that advertise "anti-aging," "brightening/whitening," or long-term complexion-evening properties, since these often tend to have skin-peeling/exfoliating properties (something Retin-A already does.)

69 out of 71 people found this review helpful.

on 9/6/2011 1:00:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Dark, Warm

Hair: Black, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I've been using Retin-A for about almost 3wks I got the generic kind 0.025. And it works great I honestly don't know why I didnt go to my dermatologist sooner. I've been dealing with acne for about one year off and on. So it was a struggle to be normal and have a normal skin. I've never had acne when I was in high school I had great skin! So it's a challenge dealing with painful acnes. I still have a few more left on my cheeks it won't go away! I've also had a down fall with it the first week I noticed some change, the second week I broke out crazy! and now on my third wk it's starting to decrease...has anyone experience this?

Age: 36-43

Skin: Normal, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

I have been using it for almost 1 month every 3 days at night time. It works great! Exfoliates, peels skin bringing new skin to life. However, I don't think it helps with pore size or unclogging pores since mine still gets clogged. But it does make the skin smoother and more tight and definitely does lighten the skin. I get mine in generic form, Tretinoin, at the 0.1 strength from suppliers (no prescription needed!). I also use it to exfoliate skin on darker places, like upper inner thighs. For that I've only been using it for a week now but it peels the layers and when you see the peeled layers come off, you can see that it's darker than your normal skin color, so I think it's working!

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I have been using this for just over a year now. After finally losing the battle against the birth control pill in terms of acne, I finally sucked it up and made a derm appointment. Having been an oddity from the start (he couldn't believe I was breaking out from the pill lol) he gave me Retin A and benzoyl peroxide. (after some trial and error, we determined that salicylic acid actually breaks me out LOL). I was given Atralin and Acanya.

The first few months weren't fun, I won't lie. I had a lot of purging. (whether or not you believe that that exists) I had a lot of closed comedones, and these all had to come to a head, it was the only way to get rid of them. I also had a few pimples that appeared in weird places.

I stuck it out. Didn't really have too much flaking or peeling though. I was careful with moisturizer though.

I'm so glad I kept with it. Breaking out is so rare for me now, and anything that pops up goes away super quickly. Retin-A makes things feel 10 times faster than they normally would.

Oh, don't wax your face while using this. It WILL take off a layer of skin lmao.

Have patience. You have to get all the gunk out before you can really stop breaking out.

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

on 9/4/2011 11:00:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Black, Other, Other

Eyes: Black

I will continue buying it only because i put all my hope in it. I dont know if it is working. After 10 months on this (7 months without the help of antibiotics), my skin isn't improving. I have pimples/acnes/scar everywhere, my whole face is ruined. But still I continue using it because i have tried everything and I need some hope to continue this fight with the acne monster. Retin A sounds promising but i havent seen it work on me. Can someone tell me what have I done wrong? I use this on cleansed skin at night after waiting for it to dry for 10 minutes at least. I'm at a ripe old age of 25 and I have never enjoyed a day of clear skin since 12.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

on 8/29/2011 11:10:00 AM

Age: 18 & Under

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

meh. more trouble than its worth imao.
my derm gave me this middle strenthg gel after clindamycin & mynocin (?) pills. wasn't really working. first week made my skin really sensitive. after that it sjust got worse. by weeks three and four my skin was a mess, big, hard soar cysts. i went back to the doctor and he told me to keep using it. i used it for like five months. my skin got a little better. instead of having like twenty zits i had like fifteen. but i also had a face that flaked and peeled, and not a lttle, big chunks. and burned wen i put anything on it. people dont nneed to make up fake reviews on this stuff and how it can make a mess of yourface that *#** is for real. none of my friends have been able to use this stuff either. zapzyt works 10 xs better.

on 8/28/2011 9:14:00 PM

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 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

8 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

on 8/27/2011 11:14:00 PM

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.


11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

on 8/24/2011 11:16:00 AM

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.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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