izzster's review of Unlisted Brand Retin A


535 reviews

82% would repurchase

Package Quality: 3.8

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 3.8

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: 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.)

73 of 75 people found this helpful.

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