My skin's problem is pore congestions, blackheads, and mild to moderate hormonal acne. This is my second time giving retin-a a shot after my first try failed. The first time was a fail because:
1-I increased the dosage to once a day too early, 2-I did not use sunscreen everyday, and the protection was not high enough (only spf 15), 3-I did not exfoliate enough. After about two months I decided to give this another go. Only this time: I use it strictly every other day, the next day I use a salicylic acid cleanser and a wash cloth to remove the dead skin cells, SPF 55 UVA/UVB protection everyday. This time my face feels much less irritated and less dry. I accelerated the process of purging by using Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay as a cleansing mask every other day. I only recommend this cleansing mask because it's purely 100% bentonite clay with no other additives, decreasing the irritation from too much ingredients (think of products out there with long ingredients lists). On days when I'm not using retin-a, I try to replenish lost moisture by using an oil-free gel hydrating mask (Aveda's intensive hydrating masque is great). I also use a good hydrating serum every a.m. and p.m. when I don't use retin-a (Dermalogica's skin hydrating booster is awesome). BTW, I think Aveeno's continuous protection sunblock lotion SPF 55 is a great non-greasy sunblock!
I see that some people have decided to give up after only using it for a month or two. Here is the thing, Retin-A is like quitting smoking, you don't give up, hang in there. If the irritation does become bothersome, you are supposed to contact your physician. Then your doctor will see if the dosage needs some changes, or if it really doesn't work with your skin. No matter what you do, just don't go cold turkey without consulting your physician.
UPDATE 10/12: After using it every other night for a month with strong sunscreen, my tolerance is finally good enough for daily application of retin-a. My current routine: AM: Murad Clarifying Cleanser/Washcloth/Naris Hyaluronic Acid Toner/Bioderma Hydrabio Serum/Dermalogica Active Moist/DERMADoctor Ain't Misbehavin' SPF 30. PM: Dermalogica PreCleanse/Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser/Thayer Alcohol and Fragrance Free Witch Hazel Toner with Aloe/Retin-A before bed. I think my cheeks are still purging, but I'm already seeing some results. Blackheads and whiteheads on my nose and forehead have significantly reduced. Usually I need to use the Aztec secret once or twice a week to control the blackheads, but I haven't used clay masks for almost two weeks, and it's still ok.
UPDATE 11/21: I have been using Retin-A every night for a month now. After I upped the dosage from every other night to every night last month, I experienced another round of purging on my face. But those are almost gone now. My skin is just getting better and better, texture has definitely improved. I'm still using most of the products above, only my sunscreen is now Shiseido Extra Smooth Cream SPF 36, no toner at night, and a.m. toner is now Thayer's.
UPDATE 2/25: After finishing my 0.025% retin-a cream, I purchased a 0.05% retin-a cream. It is a generic Stieva cream, much cheaper, and works the same. I seriously don't see myself stopping retin-a anytime soon, I have saved so much money and time because I don't need to shop for fancy skincare products anymore. In fact, I don't even need heavy coverage foundation anymore, LM's tinted moisturizer is enough to make my face look flawless.
i've been using retin A since march or so..it works great but made me break out in heavy cystic acne for 2 months. it was the worst acne i've ever experienced in my entire life. but now my skin is much smoother and clearer and i hardly get pimples. you just have to work through those months becuase retin A clears acne from deep under the skin. so it takes a very long time for it to work completely. it just removed 4 really deep blackheads from my cheek that i've had for months.
also, it requires lots of exfoliation becuase your skin flakes and dries out. or it gets too oily. i dk its a weird thing that happens. but i recommend a scrub daily.
doesn't fade any of my acne marks. i think it might make them worse.
It took away my blackheads/whiteheads and made my breakouts significantly better when I had cystic acne. The downside, and the reason I stopped using it, was that it made mmy red marks more noticeable and they would last for months. It also gave me very sensitive skin. I washed my face with a washcloth and it rubbed my skin off and I had a huge scab, typically my skin is so tough I could use a brillo pad and it would feel fine.
I am using retin a purchased from ADC. I started with .025% but see little to no change. I have started with .05% every other night and anticipate having to increase to .1% soon. My skin is so resistant!! Did a TCA peel a few weeks after starting and it frosted so much faster than it has in the past, so I guess while I see no change, there has been something going on!!
As I write this, I'm in my second week of using the generic tretinoin 0.1% (the highest strength) gel. After reading some reviews about this "miracle cream" I decided I should jump on the bandwagon; I ordered it along with my Lumigan from alldaychemist.com like many others from MUA.
I am 19 years old, asian with medium, combination skin. I've never had bad acne, maybe a couple here and there, and normally they are on my forehead. Because I am a woman of color, the acne would leave brown spots (hyperpigmentation) constantly. I had these all over my forehead that I cover with makeup, which is fine. But it is summertime and I decided it was finally enough with the heavy foundations and such. I'd read that tretinoin is very good for acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, pores, so and so. Well great! How could you say no to all of that?
Being me, I got too careless when the product arrived in the mail. That evening, I washed my face and immediately smeared a good amount of tretinoin on my face and headed off to bed. UHH WRONG! Needless to say, I did NOT read directions and all the cautionary tales on MUA. I just thought tretinoin was another cream, never realizing that theres a reason it requires a prescription. I did this for two nights, and the third day I started to see the peeling. Okay, I thought, I could deal with this. I scrubbed my face with St Ives Apricot Scrub (love this stuff) as best as I could, and powdered heavily. I had a pool photoshoot that day, luckily my skin looked fine on camera. At home, I used a tweezer and literally PEELED my face off. It didn't hurt, but I have never seen my skin come off in sheets like this. I continue my nightly routine, and the next day I woke up to a DISASTER. My face was so tight, I could barely smile. I was peeling again, so I slathered on St Ives. That was effective on my forehead and cheeks, but when it came to my chin and lower portions of my face, it was HELL. Anything that touched it BURNED. I had to constantly splash cold water on my face to lessen the pain. The skin here was so dry and rough that it felt out of this world to touch . . I've never seen my skin so bad. I continued scrubbing it about 4 times in two days, and the chin area was just red and raw. I finally gave up and just let it be, I figure the flakies will come off eventually, just not now. But let me tell you, the pain was unreal. I broke down and got some darvocet (prescription painkiller) for when I had to work so I could focus on the work, not on the pain exuding from my face.
Oh, the social aspect of this is probably just as bad as the pain I was experiencing. I have a part time job on the weekend (I am a student), and I was so embarassed to be out in public with this horrible skin. I don't know how I made through it, actually. Now I really understood all the people who have skin issues, and I learned to not be so judgemental. . it was a great lesson. This same weekend, I did not go out. I can't say how depressing this was for me. I am a total social butterfly and have not stayed home all weekend for probably over a year. There's no way I could go out looking like that. While I was cooped up, I made up my mind. I was going to stick this out, that the worst is probably over (now that I know how to correctly use tretinoin). I just can't give up now, especially after all that I went through this past week. During this second week, I am going to pray and pray that the peeling will slow down, hopefully the red/raw skin will subside, and I can actually go out looking not so freakish. The only good thing is that I haven't had my usual hormonal acne pop up when I started my period.
I have high expectations for tretinoin and I hope it doesn't disappoint. I really hope this is my miracle cream, used properly. It would be awesome to just simplify my routine: cleanser, moisturizer and some tretinoin every other night. I'm ready to clear my cabinet. But for the moment being, I am taking it one day at a time and am doing this: cleanser then wait AT LEAST an hour before the tretinoin. For the tretinoin, I'm using a pea-sized amount buffered with my moisturizer. I am doing this every other night. So far, the burning sensation has subsided a bit. I WISH I could have been doing this the whole time to avoid what has happened to my face but I can't take that back. Now I just sit and wait it out. If anything, I am so glad I did this during the summertime where I can "hide it out." I will continue to update weekly about my results.
WEEK 2: My skin never ceases to amaze me. It did a complete turn around, just as I hoped! The extreme redness and raw feeling I had was all gone, as well as the pain. I could finally put on my moisterizer without it feeling the burning sensation. The crazy peeling did subside and I just had normal flakies around my chin area. That was fine by me. I could finally get out of my house and oh boy was I happy!
WEEK 3: My skin has stayed pretty consistent. The only side effect I have now is the common flakies most gals on here experienced. Up until this point, I had completely clear skin. I had 3 or 4 tiny tiny pimples (they looked more like bumps than anything) but with makeup on, you could hardly tell. They went away pretty fast as well. But let me tell you my skin texture. Every morning after I had washed my face and moisturized, I can't help but touch my skin. It is sooo baby soft and it just glows. I noticed that hyperpigmentation on my forehead has faded away quite a bit.
WEEK 4: I think I am going through the "purging" process this week. I had decent sized pimples mostly on my forehead, but nothing too crazy. Good thing I have long hair and side bangs to hide most of it well. By the end of the week, they have mostly subsided.
WEEK 5 & 6: More purging, and having my period doesn't help that either. I really want retin-a to kick in already. Flakies are almost non-existant now!
I am using the cream in 5%. I've been using it for 3 months now. I haven't seen any improvements at all. I have red circular spots all over my cheeks, chin, and forehead. Retin A only lightened them a little but my face is so severe that this stuff doesn't work. It's such a disappointment! :( It doesn't help with blackheads or whiteheads either.
This stuff is great! I was afraid to use it because 1. It's expensive and 2. My skin is really dry and sensitive, and I thought this would irritate my skin too much. Problem one solved by buying it from mexico (also got lumigen for super-cheap there). Problem two solved by using it very, very carefully.
1. At night, wash w/ cetaphil, moisturize.
2. wait 30 minutes or so (I've waited less time and was fine, but I'm erring waaay on the side of caution with this stuff).
3. Apply .025 very lightly everywhere - including chest - except for the thin-skinned hollow under my eyes. I take care to apply it even more lightly around the crow's feet area and the skin around the top of my cheekbone (the part next to the thin-skinned part). Too many reviews of girls getting eye wrinkles from using too much in the wrong places**.
4. In the morning, again I either scrub my face w/ zia deep pore cleanser, exfoliate lightly with a washcloth, or wash with cetaphil and then use a pumpkin enzyme mask. I choose sometimes based on how my skin feels that particular morning, sometimes at random. :)
5. Physical sunscreen always ...................................................always..........................................................................................................................................................
Flaking was the worst during the first week or two, but even then it really wasn't that bad. As long as I checked the mirror and scrubbed the flakies off/dabbed with (heavy) moisturizer. .........................................................................................................................................................
And the preliminary results (after using it about a month):
1. No more blackheads! I used to get them a bit around my nose and on my chin.
2. I might be imagining it, but my skin tone looks more even.
3. Aaand it could be my recent fastidiousness with oil on my skin + a recent extraction at the esthetician's, but I think this is preventing milia! Oh oh oh happy dance.
And, well, that's all for now, but I'm hoping for more perks in the future (read: disappearing fine lines + youthful skin until I'm 60). Updates forthcoming.
**btw, girls with this problem: I think I've read every single review out there & tons of online derm advise for retin-a, and it seems that according to derms and plastic surgeons, the wrinkling is temporary, and is caused by extreme dryness & trauma. It seems your skin can take a while to heal, but apparently it WILL heal. That said, I haven't seen any reviews from women who had experienced the super-wrinkly effect and then had it go away, so BE CAREFUL. Sorry for yelling. Still, BE CAREFUL with this stuff.
6/11 Update: I am now using .05 about 4 nights each week. Man, my skin is so nice. Sometimes I get forgetful and stop using it and them my skin looks kind of bad. In fact, when I don't use it, I think my skin looks worse than it did before I started using it. I do love this stuff. After almost a year, I haven't noticed any difference with my lines, but then, the ones I have a few and very fine and I haven't been paying very close attention.
Okay, of course like an idiot I wanted superfast results and put too much Retin-A gel 0.01% on my skin. Now I am afraid I have a lot of fine lines where I didn't have before.
This is incredibly distressing for me. However, I now use this every second night, with rose oil or almond oil, and it isn't drying or flaking. However, I still seem to have a lot of fine lines! This is incredibly distressing.
I have heard that this product does work better after a few months and I have only been using it for one month. I also use a very rich sunscreen before makeup (I couldn't do this before as my skin was too oily) and that seems to help a lot.
Make sure you use something with SPF 40 or 50 and waterproof for the extra coverage!!
I will keep trying as I am desperate to get rid of the stupid fine lines on my forehead. I now seem to have them underneath eyes and nose area (due to Retin-A!) but the good news is that my acne breakout which I used to get when I get my period - seems to be really minimal or non-existent. This is great but not sure if it is worth the wrinkles!!
Let's hope that my collagen production increases after a while and fills out these hideous lines!!
When i first came to my dermatologish for acne, she perscribed this.
she fore-warned me that it will cause dryness and irritation as i start and that i should only use it every other day so i can get use to it.
YES it is very very drying, i was so irrtiated at looking at my skin in the begining that i gave up on this product for a while.
However i tried almost everything to tame my acne so i thought my face is already bad as it is, so who cares.
Now i've been using it for about 6 months, with the help of Levulan Light from a laser clinic, my skin has healed dramatically in the matter of 3 months.
i'm still using it on ever other night, and have tried to convert to every other night, but it still irritates my skin. i reccomend using a good moisturizer with this.
For my pores and overall apperance of my skin i cant say that seen much yet. but my scars have lighten up alittle bit.
and oh yea, dont get ur eyebrows waxed when using this. because u will end up taking part of ur skin off. It happened to me and i did some research online. Retin-A speeds up the metabolism of your skin so your skin is very thin. Getting anything wax on ur face is not a good idea.
I also read that the long term effect for this product is that it can prevent and reduce wrinkles. so i plan to use this in my routine from now on =D. being only 18 i have plently of time to prevent wrinkles.
I've been using retin-a 0.1% cream for about 3 years, it seems to control my break outs, they are not gone, but it helps