So, I am now 40 and was still battling acne. As a teen it was light to moderate anywhere on the face. With age it became more cyst like and around the chin and jawline. My derm told me this is normal for women my age with acne. I have tried retin a soooo many times with adverse side effects and NO improvement. So, when my new derm wanted me to try again, I was almost angry with him. Out of desperation I tried again. Now that I am older I tend to be better about following the instructions on things to the T, and that is what I did this time. WOW!!!! It is working!!! I am so happy when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror! Have not even been on it for 2 weeks yet and old hyperpigmentation has faded by 50% and no new blemishes!!! Why is it working this time? I am convinced it is from FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS. What I did wrong in the past...I used a drying soap for problem skin several times a day and scrubbed...don't do that, even if you are super oily. This only makes your skin want to make more oil. I didn't wait to let my face DRY COMPLETELY. You must wait at least 20 min. I used way too much...you only need a tiny bit, more will only make you dry and flaky. What I do now.....wash face gently in the a.m. with Cetafil (original kind) just with fingertips, spend at least a minute doing this, but be gentle! Rinse with leukwarm water, be nice to your skin, no more mistreating it with scrubbing and water that is too hot or cold. Apply light film of DUAC (got from derm) it is a mix of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin (an antibiotic). Sadly, this will make your skin dry and make it difficult to put on your makeup. Wait for it to dry, then apply an acne friendly, oil free sunscreen made for the face or a bb cream. Whatever you choose it must have spf in it or you will burn from using the retin a. You will really need the oil free moisture too. I won't lie, it is really hard to get your makeup to look good over all this stuff, but is is so worth it and after not even 2 weeks, I have stopped foundation, and just use powder bronzer, blush and highlight. While I was wearing foundation I had to start applying it with a damp beauty blender ( i like the Cynthia Rowley one I got at TJ Maxx, only $6 instead of like $20 for the real thing). I have not found a product I am more impressed with for years than the beauty blender! Moving on...late afternoon/ early evening as soon as I get home I wash off makeup with Cetafil and apply another very light film of DUAC...don't use too much!!! Cetafil is not great at removing makeup so spend some time massaging gently, do not use a wash cloth, just clean fingers. You may even have some leftover makeup on your skin. I was worried this would make me break out...it will not, remember with the retin a your cells are turning over fast, and the antibiotic in the DUAC will kill the germs. You may need to use an eye makeup remover, if it is oily, don't get it on the rest of your face. Then before bed (DUAC has been on 4 or 5 hrs at this point) rinse DUAC off with just leukwarm water, don't use Cetafil again, your face is already clean (that is if you have not reapplied makeup or gone out to the gym.) THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT PART...you must wait at least 20 min after rinsing your face before you apply Retin A!! I actually wait more like an hour (watch tv, put kids to bed, pick out your outfit for next day), but you must wait! Retin a does not like water! Second most important...don't use too much. Only a pea size for your whole face! Take out the amount you need and do small dots all over face, don't use in crease of nose, or corners of mouth ( i don't even go close to those areas). Do not use any other acne cleansers, toners or anything harsh while on these meds...not even masks, you don't need it, let the products do their thing. BTW the retin a I am using is the .025%, a low dose. Since I have tolerated it well, I think I will ask for the next stronger dose next time to fade the remainder of the discoloration. FYI, the face makeup I use is Tarte, and TheBalm and they have not made me break out. They are free of lots of yucky ingredients. I also use them as I won't use anything that is tested on animals or sells in China (if it is sold in China, their laws are that the product HAS to be tested on animals first), sadly this means no more Urban Decay for me. Tarte, TheBalm, and Stila are brands that seem to be good to go...oh, E.L.F. is cruelty free as well. Please try cruelty free and be vocal about it...Urban Decay swore they would not sell in China, then they faltered...guess their bottom line was more important! I hope you will try Retin A THE RIGHT WAY, I have not had such great results with anything else in the past 25 years and have tried everything but Accutane.
Dear Makeup Allies,
Prescribed Retina-Micro .04%.
This is my first review, so I hope it's helpful. I start with a background on my skin conditions and what I have suffered with, generally. I then move into a more specific product review. If you want to, you can just skip ahead to the review.
MY SKIN HISTORY:
Okay so, I have always struggled with moderate acne. In high school it was pretty bad. I have scarring on my forehead from that time period. That was when I had the most cystic pimples. Now, I'm slightly type-A so my plan to get rid of it was to just do EVERYTHING possible: a.k.a. every drug store product that I could find. I seriously put masks on my face every day, steamed, scrubbed, ProActiv-ed, Murad-ed, and attempted to use oil-free, noncomedogenic hypoallergenic makeup, etc.
I think sheer intensity made my skin "manageable," but it never truly cleared up my acne, and I have the scars to prove it (I am now 24).
Anywho, I finally went to a dermatologist. I was prescribed antibiotics: Monocyclin I believe (some name like that). That helped for about a month, then it went back to how it was before. Later in college I was prescribed a topical antibiotic, and benzoyl peroxide; this also did not help and really irritated my skin. I also attempted using a birth control, because I heard that helped and for some people it does, also to no avail.
I was also prescribed Retina-A micro at this time. I used it COMPLETELY INCORRECTLY AND HATED IT. However, even doctors are sometimes unaware of what you can and cannot use with Retin-A that will exacerbate acne.
I then went on Accutane. Oh, lovely Accutane. It totally cleared up my skin problems while I was on it, and I recommend it if you haven't used it, but it is a very, very, very, serious drug and should be treated accordingly. Anywho, Accutane cleared up my skin COMPLETELY while I was on it, and it stayed clear for about six months after until my acne returned, yet again. I was then a junior in college and still had friggen acne. Needless to say, I was pissed off at my face...
Moving forward, I read the following book: Feed Your Face. Nothing has helped my skin more. My skin was literally perfect, as in I would have one or two pimples a month! AMAZING, really read this book! IT SAVED MY LIFE.
THE RETURN TO RETIN-A Micro
So, I don't religiously follow the advice from the book, but I try to. It has really helped me maintain my skin, even better than Accutane, and the basic aspects that I really try to follow are avoiding starchy carbs because the insulin response can cause hormones to trigger oil gland production (or something like that), I take fish oils or flaxseed every day, and I try to eat more spinach, greens, and take a multivitamin with lycopene (from Whole Foods).
So, I still have scarring from acne; however, I heard Retin-A helps with scarring and anti-aging so I wanted to try it again. I was also hoping that it would help with those stubborn breakouts that I continued to get about once or twice a month.
I am currently using the .04% concentration and have been for three months. Just a note: Now that I have a better understanding of skincare I have realized that it's very important to use noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic makeup/moisturizers with Retin-A. Using certain products CAN and WILL make your acne worse. The first time around my skin was so dry and flaky that I used the worst moisturizers possible; of course it made my acne worse.
FIRST 3 WEEKS:
Anyway, I began using the product 2-3 times a week. I did this so my skin could get acclimated. My skin looked good, I didn't experience any super intense purging and one of my friends with GORGEOUS PERFECT SKIN even commented on how "glowy" my skin was.
Upped my usage to 3-4 times a week. Experienced very slight purging. However, it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. However, my skin condition, generally, continued to improve and the marks or pimples came and went much faster than usual. I am Hispanic so my olive skin tone is prone to hyperpigmentation as well (woohoo me!)
4-5 times a week. Most intense purging yet. Also experienced a period of intense redness, dryness, and flakiness. Although it was never as bad as the first time I used Retin-A Micro, it was still pretty gross. However, I use and am a huge fan of Organic, cold-pressed, and pure, extra virgin coconut oil as a moisturizer (yes, even on my face), and I believe that is why my skin reacted less intensely. P.S. the powerful antioxidants and antimicrobial power of coconut oil makes it a fabulous and cheap moisturizer. I strongly recommend it; it has been another fabulous addition to my skincare routine.
5-6 times a week. Purging gone, skin fabulous. My "ice-pick" scars on my forehead have noticeably lessened. While they are obviously still visible, I can tell that they are less pronounced. Slight dryness sometimes, in the morning, but COCO takes it away completely. I have also noticed a reduction in the fine lines around my outer-eye area.
I LOVE THIS STUFF.
Hope this was a helpful review!
I have had severe acne for about 8 years. I tried everything you can buy and was just about to give up. Then I asked the dermatologist i work for. I babysit for a dermatologist and was given a ton of samples from her to treat my acne (I have no insurance). I used this with a combination of antibiotics (monodox) and another cream (Acanya). I had severe cystic acne; really just a face full of it. When I started this regimen with this stuff at night, the Acanya during the day, and the antibiotic once everyday, I was at first horrified. My acne got so much worse and I didn't want to be around anybody. However, after about two weeks of sticking with it, I started seeing amazing results. I'd wake up every morning with less and less acne than before and it even helped with my scars. I fully recommend it!
I've been using this product for 2 months for acne, it definitely has reduced my oil production and my blemishes heal faster while on the medication. My skin over all looks brighter and smoother and I look younger than I did before using this. My acne is still not completely gone but I think it will take a while longer before I see the full results. My skin has somewhat gotten used to this but it still get dry and peels from time to time.
I am 36, South Asian, have medium tan, oily skin and mild acne that mainly consists of a few stubborn "undergrounders" on my cheeks and hard blackheads here and there that really would not go away. When i try to squeeze them, my skin just darkens. When I leave them alone, my skins darkens too. So even when i had only one or two active zits, the darkened scars made it look like I had much more ance than i do.
I used Differin about 6 years ago and it worked for a while, but then stopped working. Then I used Ziana and clindamycin and that worked well, but then stopped working well.
My dermatologist prescribed Retin-A micro (0.04%) for PM and Duac for AM in March.
In the first 2 weeks I saw no change.
Then, I too, experienced a short window of worsening for a week (albeit very slight compared to others) and some peeling for a few days. The peeling was annoying, but really not that terrible because I keep heavily moisturized, so it didn't look that bad. Two days, the peeling did not look great because pieces of skin were just flaking/rolling off my face. Luckily, I didn't have any special occasion during those days.
After about 2 months, I saw some really great results and my skin is continuing to look terrific--smooth, clear and glowing. The darkened spots have faded to almost nothing. I am amazed when I wake up in the morning and look at my face. I really feel like it is staving off wrinkles too. I couldn't be happier with the results. When I get a zit occasionally, it clears up in a few days, as opposed to a few weeks.
PM: Wash face/make up with a mild, natural, non-drying soap. I use one made from coconut oil--it cleanses but never leaves my face feeling dry/taut. Wait 10 minutes (brush my teeth/take out contacts). Apply 2 pumps of Retin-A micro to my cheeks and forehead. Right before I go to bed, I generously apply Cerave night lotion to the areas of my face that don't have retin-a. Then I apply it to the areas of my face that do. This is to minimize the risk of retin-a getting in the more sensitive parts of my face and prevent peeling.
AM: Same mild soap to my face. After a few minutes I apply a pea-sized glob of Duac for my cheeks, forehead and chin. I wait about 10 minutes for it to absorb, then I apply my moisturizer (Olay Total Effects w/spf) on the area of my face that doesn't have Duac for the same reasons as stated above.
The best part of this regimen is that I no longer use any coverup or foundation for blemishes. I just moisturize generously and brush over lightly with a translucent pressed powder (I used Sephora) that tints, but it it looks like i'm not wearing any makeup (because i barely am!).
I hope this is helpful to folks. I know that a lot of people have much worse initial side effects than I did, but knowing what I know now about the final results, I still think it must be worth it. I think it really evens out skin tone, improves texture and reduced wrinkles AND reduces/clears acne.
I am the biggest Retin-A advocate! I started with the lesser strength version (.02) which I would highly recommend doing (the weaker first and then build up to the stronger) because your skin will react. Mostly peeling, so make sure you moisturize a lot and exfoliate. Also when you first begin with Retin-A, start with a few times a week, then go to every other day, then finally every day. Your skin will take a while to get used to it, but it is worth it. And once it is used to the lesser strength formula, switch to the higher strength for maximum results. I have had acne for years and I was so frustrated that nothing was working to help. Not only did Retina-A clear up my skin, but it greatly helped my scarring. My skin tone is much more even and even (dare I say it) glows. I use less and less makeup and feel more comfortable in my skin every day. Go Retin-A!
I have been using Retin A for 4 months. I started out with generic Retin A but quickly switched to micro. The acne did clear up but it makes my face so much oilier than before. I can' t believe it makes people's skin dry! Two of my sisters also used Retin A but gave up due to the extremely oily skin. I am not sure what I am going to try next, maybe Finacea. If anyone has had similar results I would love to hear about it.
I switched to the .1 percent of Retin A Micro which is the strongest about 2 months ago. It has helped tremendously with my acne and my face is not as oily as it was with the .04 percent. My only issue is I can't find any makeup that will last. It seems like Retin A makes my foundation wear off. The good thing is I would actually feel comfortable without foundation now which is awesome!
So I'm currentlly in the middle of week 9 and this stuff has been a rough ride for me, most of that was my fault tho. So when I started using Retin A I actually had completly clear skin and wanted to use it due to the anti-aging properties, better to start early and use something that's actually proven to work rather than buy all sorts of crap from the drugstore. Anyways, at first all it did was dry my skin out pretty badly and make me peel, plus some mild break-outs. Around the four week mark or so, I went out and bought some Cetaphil cuz I figured it would be good for my dry skin, oddly enough, it made me break out SO SO badly, I thought it was the Retin A doing it's purging thing, so I just kept using it. After I hit the eight week mark and I was STILL breaking out super badly I starting to get pretty frustrated and thinking maybe Retin just isn't for me. Anyways, long story short, out of curosity I took the Cetaphil out one night and right away I completly stopped breaking out and havn't since! So, it turns out the retin actually does work for me! Now that I'm not breaking out anymore, my skin is starting to look and feel pretty nice, alot of the blackheads that I have in my cheeks and nose area are starting to fall out, I still get alot of peeling, I notice that it seems to sorta cycle to every five days or so everything peels alot. I have tons of red marks all over right now from the break-out but I'm not too worried, I can cover them with make-up til they fade. Anyways it's still too early to give a full review yet, but I'm pretty excited to see what the next couple months hold. I payed 30$ in Canada for a 20g tube that is almost empty at the two month mark!
I used regular, generic tretinoin 0.05% cream for years before discovering Retin-A Micro. I immediately switched to the 0.1%. It is definitely stronger--it burns the skin around my eyes if I'm not careful--but with the Micro technology I've had no irritation or redness. I did have some flakiness at first but it went away.
If you are able to afford it, I strongly prefer Retin-a Micro over regular Retin-a or any regular tretinoin product. You can use a higher concentration with fewer side effects, plus it contains silicone moisturizers that help prevent the dryness and flakiness associated with topical retinoids.
My advice to anyone starting a retinoid is to use the lowest concentration until you get used to it, apply it every other night or every third night until you get used to it, and DON'T BE DISCOURAGED IF YOUR ACNE GETS WORSE AT FIRST!
EDIT: This recently became available in generic form. (Retin-A Micro is NOT the same as regular tretinoin.) The generic form is called Tretinoin Micro or Microsphere and comes in the same strengths and sizes as brand name Retin-A. If you've been holding off on trying this because of the price, now's your chance!
I am 16 years old and have had moderate acne since I was 13 years old, for a while I used clean and clear and it worked wonders but once I entered high school it stopped working and I began to use acanya twice a day (day and night) and freshman year throughout sophomore year that made my skin so clear and gorgeous but after a year my skin grew accustomed to it and it no longer got rid of my moderate acne , so fast forward to the beginning of my junior year, my dermatologist recommended retin a micro .1%, I was skeptical because I have used this for two weeks during my freshman year and I remember it giving me a nasty chemical peel but I figured I might as well try it once again I mean whats the worst that can happen?..... I was wrong !! the first few weeks my skin got alittle better aside from the extreme peeling and redness , however after day 66 when I was hoping for the promised results I began purging like crazy! I had cystic acne and my face was so tender and flaky I would have breakdowns and not want to go to school, I bought 100 dollars worth of top of the line makeup hoping to cover up my breakouts but my skin was so scaly and flaky that makeup just made my skin look worst! my family made fun of my skin (and still does) which only made it worst , luckily my boyfriend didn't seem to mind my terrible skin so that gave me the confidence to stick to retin a micro, well today marks my 16th week and sadly my skin is just getting worst my purging period never ended and it seems like it never will, I have kept a photo acne journal and I can see my face has just gotten progressively worst , I have terrible cystic acne now and a bunch of tiny pus filled pimples and brown scars from previous pimples ... The only positive result I've gotten is smaller pores, I do understand this medication takes a while to effectively work though so after coming this far I will continue to use ram for a year before I give up , I will definitely update once my skin begins to clear up a bit more ! if you are also at your 4 month and are still purging like me don't lose hope !! hopefully we will soon get the flawless skin we have been striving for !
Ps- my daily regimen is in the morning I wash my face with cetaphil gentle cleanser and wait ten minutes before applying cetaphil facial moisturizer , and at night I wash my face with cetaphil again, wait thirty minutes then apply a pea size and a half of ram