Skip to content

My Retin-A Journey – first 2 weeks

RetinA

I thought I will share my experience so far with incorporating Retin-A into my skin care regime. Before we get started, some quick notes about my skin type, events leading up to Retin-A use.

  1. I never had pimples or acne in my teens, leading up to mid 20s. It is only in the last 2 to 3 years that I started experiencing break outs. To be perfectly honest, my skin issues started only after I moved to the States. Maybe it an over dose of a few food groups, excess coffee, lifestyle changes, or just plain old hormonal changes?
  2. During 2015-16, I started laser hair removal sessions around my chin and jaw line to get rid of rogue hairs. I got burnt on my 5th or 6th session which caused significant hyper pigmentation. Despite of using a bit of Hydroquinone and Retinol Reform, I still have uneven skin tone.
  3. As of this year, the uneven pigmentation spots subsided quite a bit by themselves (even before I started Retin-A).
  4. One of my favorite bloggers, P from Pret-A-Porter recommended that I just get a prescription Retin-A or Retinol instead of wasting my money with products like Retinol Reform.
  5. It is almost 3 months since I started using prescription Retin A. So, by the time I am writing this post, I am further along in my journey.

Quick Notes about my Doctor’s visit:

The doctor told me that it would be several months before I see any big progress in reduction of hyper pigmentation and uneven skin tone. She noticed few areas prone to light Acne on my face. She prescribed Aczone Gel (7.5%) and Retin-A. (0.08%)

The recommendation was that I use

  1. Aczone in the morning and evening all over my face
  2. just a pea-size amount of Retin-A all over my face every alternate night and build my strength to use it daily. I was supposed to apply Retin A before any night cream or serums.

Initial Experience in the First two weeks.

Week 1: I used Retin-A every alternate day. In the first week I saw 2 break outs. I wrote them off as my skin adjusting to new products.

Week 2: I saw 2 more break outs. Also, my skin entered that well known phase of peeling that occurs with Retinol products. Having used Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform, I knew this was going to happen. The skin around my mouth and nose was the most affected in the peeling process.

The break outs started to worry me. But, per numerous forums I’ve read, this happens when you try prescription strength Retinoids. Another thing I noticed was that my hyper pigmentation spots look even more darker. This was the biggest of my worries.  Again, looking at various forums, a few people put it down to the fact that rest of my skin is getting clearer and brighter. So the dark spots seem to be more defined.

I’ll be sharing my 1 month progress soon. Do you use any Retin-A or Vitamin A products? How was your experience? Do you prefer over the counter products or seeing a Dermatologist? 

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Xin #

    I’m a Retin-A Micro veteran whose been using the 0.1% for around eight years now. I definitely know that the adjustment can be really intense. Especially when I first started, I had heinous dry patches and peeling for at least three months, probably longer. The initial breakouts were also awful, and lasted for most of those three months. Also, though I’d been using the product continuously for years by the time I recently went to a dermatologist again, when I returned to using it once every night (rather than the once every other night I’d let it slip back to), I had another intense peely transition for at least another month.

    One thing about Retin-A Micro and dark spots: I’m not someone who traditionally gets dark spots or anything like that from the sunlight, but in the early stages of Retin-A Micro use I got some new dark spots, likely from sun exposure. Those spots healed strangely, eventually becoming scabs after several weeks and peeling off completely, leaving normal skin under them. (Some of the post-acne “dark spot” looking marks behave similarly when I’m being religious with my Retin-A Micro use.) It’s very strange.

    Have you tried Vitamin C serums or products containing niacinamide? I can vouch for Vitamin C serums being helpful for post-acne dark spots, though if hydroquinine didn’t work, I’d be less sure about whether Vitamin C would do anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 27, 2017
    • SA. #

      Thank You Xin for sharing your experience! I think the Hydroquinone cream I used was very less strength and I used it for only 2 months. I was a little disappointed with the effects. So, I gave up. I have been thinking about adding Vitamin C from Skinceuticals to my skin care routine. But, I want to take my time incorporating Vitamin A into my regime first. I feel bringing in too many products, too soon will just mess with my skin.

      Like

      August 27, 2017
      • maiastras #

        I second Xin’s recommendation for Vitamin C and niacinamide. Depending on the formulation, Vit. C can sting or cause irritation, but niacinamide is quite gentle. I used The Ordinary’s 10% Niacinamide + Zinc serum, which kept my pores clear and my acne at bay in tropical weather. I can’t speak to niacinamide’s effect on hyper-pigmentation, however. Either way, The Ordinary serum is quite affordable, so it wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

        I’m easing back into using a tretinoin 0.05% cream once a week. It’s been about 3 weeks now, and with the shift in weather, my skin is definitely more sensitive. Typically a derm will recommend that you let your skin dry after washing to apply the topical cream, in order to decrease absorption and minimize irritation.
        What I’ve been doing instead is applying a hydrating gel serum (something without fancy or active ingredients) then applying the tretinoin. I find that this helps on two fronts: 1) the serum creates a buffer; 2) because my skin is still damp from the serum, I can spread the tretinoin thinly and avoid using too much.
        I got the buffer idea from Jordan Samuel, whose product called Hydrate seems to be popular for this purpose among his clients.
        With this buffer technique I’ve noticed is that I have very little irritation, and minimal peeling. My skin will start to peel about a day after applying the tretinoin, and this is when I take time to massage my skin during my double cleanse to exfoliate.

        I’m lucky to have a dermatologist father, but some OTC products like the range from The Ordinary, and Differin (which used to be prescription), produce good results. In the end, everyone’s skin is so different, unfortunately you have to just take your time to figure out what works. I hope that you’ll see good results soon!

        Liked by 1 person

        September 8, 2017
      • SA. #

        Thank you M! I am definitely going to bring Vit C or Niacinamide, just want to be slow at building a simple, yet effective routine.
        I am hearing and seeing great reviews of The Ordinary (The price points!!) So, I figured out the right moisturizer / serum that works for me, along with Vitamin A, by the end of the first month. Will share the post soon 🙂 I am already seeing good results! A Dermatologist father! How awesome! 🙂 I look forward to reading your skin care posts, if you ever decide to share.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 10, 2017
      • maiastras #

        I’m glad to hear you’re seeing good results! I wouldn’t mind sharing my regimen but I’ve decided that I’m a terrible blogger. Haha.

        Liked by 1 person

        September 15, 2017
  2. My awful acne began when I was around 12, so I’m no stranger to retinoids. I got prescribed adapalene (synthetic retinoid) when I was 14, but found that it was not nearly enough for my skin, and subsequently used Tazorac (a much stronger synthetic retinoid) from 16 to 18. I had a lot of the dryness and peeling when I first started Tazorac; I was sporadic with its use, and got those same symptoms when I started using it again. My skin got better over time, partially because of Rx and from birth control. I actually went back to using adapalene (now available OTC and very affordable) and am pretty happy with the results (closed comedones are mostly gone). It has helped with hyperpigmentation, but not a great amount.

    At this point, I am pretty happy with my skin. On another note, some of the bloggers that I follow that are actual dermatologists use tretinoin for anti-aging.

    Like

    August 27, 2017
    • SA. #

      Thank you Lu! It must have been hard to deal with acne as a teenager. I have friends who had very healthy lifestyles, did everything right and still had to wage a war against acne in their teenage years!

      One of my good friends has wonderful skin and she attributes it to birth control. I know there are different schools of thought about using contraceptives for controlling Acne. I really don’t know enough about this. But, I am aware of enough doctors who prescribe it to their own families and friends.

      Overall, I am really satisfied since I started using Retin-A (tretinoin). My skin looks brighter and better overall. It is just the eternal peeling which is a pain to deal with. I am starting to find better solutions for it now.

      Like

      August 27, 2017
  3. Thank you!

    I’m in the same boat was you. I had good skin in my teens, 20s, and then when I hit a certain age it went to sh!t.

    I think I use too many different products inconsistently (tretinoin, AHAs/BHAs, etc…), that I’m screwing myself over, still persistent forehead breakouts and my hyperpigmentation ain’t budging. Right when I think I have my skin under some kind of control, my breakouts come back with a vengeance. And I eat fairly healthy and started taking multi-vitamins, chia seeds on everything, flaxseed milk, green tea every morning…—that I should just go back to eating garbage sugar donuts and candy if I’m just going to look the same. (And I know my skin is not “bad enough” to take pills ie Accutane). I would rather do another slash and burn chemical peel to start fresh but it’s the downtime that gets me. That said, I haven’t had cystic unicorn breakout since I’ve been using the Peter Thomas Roth sulfur mask.

    Re: your LHR Did they use ndYAG laser? It’s better for brown skin tones. Sometimes I think about starting back up, but I know the results for where I want wouldn’t be worthwhile. And I’ve heard horror stories about worse regrowth for the face.

    I look forward to hearing more about your progress with Retinoid.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 30, 2017
    • SA. #

      P, I feel you with the adult break outs. One of the things I did after you recommended that I just visit the doctor’s was pretty much stop buying or trying any other products (ExfoliKate, that one remaining Glossier face pack! EL Advanced Night Repair – all of which I tried very inconsistently). I have a few sheet masks left, that’s about it. As much as I am tempted to add Vitamin C right away, I decided to take my time. I guess it takes a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And once we almost have it figured out, the skin changes!

      I consider you the expert on peels (Both At home and at the doctor’s office kind). I am sure you already checked out this old article on IntoTheGloss: https://intothegloss.com/2016/01/best-peels-for-sensitive-skin/

      That comments section is a gold mine!

      Yes, it was YAG Laser. Given that I have medium brown skin and very dark hair, YAG was the recommended option. My LHR sessions were in a doctor’s office. Yes! the hair came back with a vengeance. In fact, I keep wondering if it is more now. I don’t have PCOS or anything else to trigger the growth. I broke out quite a bit during my LHR sessions. Apparently this is a common side effect of Laser.

      Anyway, plain old tweezing once a week is way better than getting burnt. Now , I just stick this mirror (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007BQH7ES/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) to the window with the best lighting, put on an Audible book and tweeze away!

      Like

      August 30, 2017
    • It sounds counterintuitive but sometimes it’s best to use nothing, no products at all for a short period of time till the skin gets a chance to calm down. Then introduce things gradually?

      Like

      September 1, 2017
      • SA. #

        Absolutely! I literally stopped using everything – except moisturizer and sunscreen – for a while. I think there is such a broad product range available in the market, sometimes you feel like trying out a few. I am learning to ignore the ‘skin care noise’ and stick to 1 or 2 products and use them consistently.

        Like

        September 1, 2017
  4. I wish you all the best with your new skin regime. Is that what the dermatologist recommended? It does sound a little harsh though and one wonders if antibiotics might not have been a better answer. Facial hair and acne may be the result of hormonal imbalance, which would need to be addressed internally.

    Like

    September 1, 2017
    • SA. #

      Yes Lady Sarah. The products were dermatologist prescribed that I bought at the pharmacy. She informed me that vitamin A stimulates cell turnover and tries to exfoliates the top layers of skin. So, skin tends to get dry and flaky during the adjustment period.

      With the acne, it was all self-induced. Too much caffeine, late nights, unnecessary products and LHR. So, it is pretty much internal. I also moved cross-country a couple of times in last few years. That added to the skin drama.

      I asked the dermatologist about facial hair too. She did inspect and said that it has more to do with ethnicity in my case. She doesn’t think it is really hormonal, for me. But, I have a few thorough annual checkups lined up next month and I have a feeling that any issues with hormones will show up. Fingers crossed. 🙂

      Like

      September 1, 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: