A Plus Why you might want to use Retin-A (because I’m back on the wagon)

Retin A 0.025 Why you might want to use Retin A (because Im back on the wagon)

I always like you guys to be the first to know when I change something up in my skincare routine, so it’s time to fess up: the Retin-A thing is ON. Again.

See, I first started seriously dabbling with a prescription-strength retinoid this time last year. After spending my entire beauty editor career interviewing dermatologists who would speak of this stuff like it was manna from heaven—a.k.a. the “gold standard” for anti-aging—I was determined to get my hands on some. Possibly this is because of a psychological state known as “wanting what you can’t have.” If it weren’t for expiration dates, I could probably quite comfortably live to age 80 on my current supplies without ever needing to set foot in a store to buy moisturizer. And yet, I wanted to fork over my own money for a tube of cream that was going to make my skin shed like a snake before revealing a smooth, clear, glowy, poreless, lineless complexion.

At least that was the goal. I was consistent with the stuff for about six months until a seaside vacation where I was spending so much time outdoors that I thought I’d better give the retinoid a rest. (They make you way more sun-sensitive.) After that, I don’t know what happened, but my usage sort of tapered off and then I got into into using rose hip oil, which is a natural vitamin A alternative, instead. I think it partially had to do with my skin feeling a bit dry and flaky, and as a closet hippie chick I’m constantly swayed by the siren song of natural products.

Fast-forward to 2013. I had a facial the other day (Dermalogica; lovely as usual) but as anyone who’s ever had a Dermalogica facial will know, one of the signature parts of the treatment is a little feedback process called “face-mapping.” Wherein the facialist helpfully and specifically points out all the problems on your face with a handy little chart!

Dermalogica face map Why you might want to use Retin A (because Im back on the wagon)

It’s quite traumatizing if you’re having a shitty skin week. And what really shocked me—and sent me running back to the drugs—was how much more congested my skin had become since the last Dermalogica facial I’d had in May. (She had the chart for comparison.) While gunky pores weren’t the reason I’d gone on the stuff (I was more interested in evening out skin tone and preventing future aging), clearer ones were an amazing benefit that I hadn’t even noticed at the time.

So I did what any skin obsessive would do. Ran home and Googled like a mad woman. And then called my derm the very next morning to get him to renew my prescription. Side note: Did you know that there is currently a country-wide retinoid shortage? Apparently it’s been, like, a year now that it’s been in short supply. I was actually prescribed the cream because of my sensitive skin, but had to end up getting the gel, and not even the generic (Stieva-A) because it was the only med they had at that strength (I’m on 0.025 percent).

So I’m going to have to be even more careful about how I use it in order to minimize the dreaded peeling and redness and flakies. (One reason I think I quit before was because I’d become less diligent about how I was using it.) But let’s save all of that for part two of this discussion. First, I want to tell you about the fruits of my labour… i.e. obsessive Googling. I knew all of this before but like I said, I get swayed easily by new, shiny things in beauty.

5 reasons why you should use Retin-A

(*And by Retin-A, I mean any retinoid: Stieva-A, Tazorac, Differin, etc. I’m using the term Retin-A like Kleenex—to describe the entire category.)

1. It plumps your skin for realz.

So we can talk ’til the cows come home about all the great anti-aging creams and how they lift and firm and (my favourite line in “beautyspeak”) diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles. And sure, they might. But retinoids are actually proven to do so. They work by increasing your skin’s stores of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which are the building blocks of firm, plump skin. Dr. Leslie Baumann, author of the great book The Skin Type Solution, cites a study where 36 people, median age 87 years old, were treated three times a week with just 0.4 percent retinol—which is the weaker, over-the-counter version of Retin-A. After 24 weeks the improvements were dramatic and clearly visible to the naked eye. So imagine what the good drugs can do on a nightly basis!

2. It prevents skin aging.

At the same time as Retin-A is boosting those stores of collagen and hyaluronic acid, it’s also slowing down the rate at which you lose them with age, thereby warding off wrinkles that haven’t even shown up yet. That’s why it’s best to start young (which was my line of thinking with this) before your skin is visibly in trouble. You do need to keep up with the treatment, though, to keep the results… if you stop using it, your skin goes back to where it was before.

3. It makes your skin tone more glowy and even.

This is because it’s exfoliating away all the dulling dead skin cells on the surface—and does a far better job of it than any over-the-counter scrub or peel can do. It may take a while to notice this side effect if you get the initial flaking and redness, but once your skin gets used to it (and with proper application procedures), you’ll have smoother, more radiant skin. Plus, if you’re dealing with sun damage, melasma or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (a.k.a. those marks you get after a pimple heals up), retinoids speed up the healing/fading process so you can get your even skin tone back. And they’re way cheaper than IPL (intense pulsed light treatments), which I had in the fall. Yet another benefit I kinda forgot about!

4. It helps control blocked pores, acne and oil production.

Ick. Nobody likes these things, and Lord knows I’ve tried various treatments over the years, both dietary and topical. My skin has been pretty much under control aside from annoying premenstrual blemishes that arrive on a monthly basis like clockwork. But you know what? I think I had less of them when I was diligently using Retin-A. And as my facialist pointed out, I definitely had fewer closed comedones. This is because of that powerful exfoliation—retinoids get rid of the dead skin cells that block pores and lead to acne. Plus, they also decrease oil production, an incredible benefit if like me you find powders and mattifiers a huge pain.

5. It’s cheap!

At least if you live in Canada, where a prescription will run you under $30. That’s not too shabby for all of the benefits you get—especially compared to the average price of other anti-aging products, and their lack of proven results. That said, just because you want to use Retin-A doesn’t mean you have to give everything else up. I am the biggest product whore of all and use it with various serums, moisturizers, masks, exfoliators and face oils. So there!

I’ll tell you more about my specific routine, and how you can minimize irritation, in my next post on this. In the meantime…

Some impressive Retin-A testimonials

Woman applying Retin A Why you might want to use Retin A (because Im back on the wagon)

Here are a few kick-ass testimonials I found on Makeup Alley that you might want to read:

“My skin is clear, tight, and the red marks from old acne are really fading fast. I’ve been on Retin-A for a month now and have only had one tiny pimple on my cheek in an unusual spot. And of course, the red mark from that blemish is fading super fast now. I usually breakout around my period and while on this regimen, I did not breakout at all this month.”

“This product makes my pores look tiny, and I rarely have breakouts around my t-zone anymore.”

“I can honestly say that I look like I’m in my mid to late 20s. I was a tanner up until my mid 30s. I grew up, and live in a sunny climate, and I’ve had some blister sunburns, too. I have no laugh lines, or crows feet…”

“In about four months it has gotten a rid of about 85 percent of my scars and has cleared up the acne itself for the most part!”

“It has done wonders on scars and marks, I now wear the least amount of makeup than I have in about a decade. I also, at 31, started to be asked if I’m 25 A LOT (it will be so sad when this stops happening, i can’t look 25 forever). I now apply .05 to my temple area only, the rest of my face gets .025. I started doing this because I wanted better results on the lines in between my brows and it has worked VERY well. The lines around my mouth are basically gone now, I used to see makeup setting in them but not anymore.”

Impressive, non? Compulsory disclaimer: Please don’t take this as medical advice and talk to your doctor first about whether retinoids are right for you. Also, don’t use them if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Read part two: How to use Retin-A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess).

Have your say

Have you ever tried Retin-A? (If not, why not?)
If you do use a retinoid, what results… or drawbacks… have you noticed so far?
What’s the number one miracle product in YOUR skincare arsenal?

147 Comments

Kate
Monday, January 21/2013 at 12:17 pm

I was going to ask my doc for a prescription but then had a chat with Dr. Perricone last week and he scared me of Vit A by mentioning the inflammation it causes – and he believes that inflammation is the source of all aging. Thoughts?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 21/2013 at 1:52 pm

Oh God, this is why I can never stick to a routine! (People reading this – Kate’s in beauty too, hence our ongoing angst… always swayed by the next expert we talk to!)

I found this though on Dr. Perricone’s website – sounds like he didn’t used to have a problem with long-term Retin-A usage? http://www.dailyperricone.com/2009/02/dr-perricone-qa-long-term-retin-a-usage/

It’s always so hard to know who/what to believe…

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Jade
Monday, July 15/2013 at 10:48 am

Dr. Perricone is not one to be trusted… Why not listen to basically every other dermatologist? There is so much evidence backing the idea that retinoids reduce the effects of aging.
You can reduce the initial inflammation you might get by starting out slowly, with the lowest percentage, and buffering with a moisturizer. If your skin really can’t tolerate tretinoin, tazarotene, or adapalene (which is the gentlest of the three), the next best ingredient is retinaldehyde. This is much gentler than the tretinoin in retin-a. Avene makes some great creams with this ingredient. Then there is retinol, which you can find good versions of in the drugstore and higher end.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:10 pm

Yeah, Dr. Perricone’s skin doesn’t look so hot and I disagree completely with his dietary advice. All that salmon he likes to promote is very aging :)

My favourite OTC alternative to Retin-A is Avene Triacneal which is retinaldehyde.

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chris
Monday, August 26/2013 at 11:20 am

I agree with the dermatologist’s assessment that all aging comes about as a result of inflammation.
Consider this: Approximately 87% of aging is due to environmental factors. Unfortunately, our bodies and our skin – the largest organ of the body – is attacked by so many of these factors on a daily basis. These include sun exposure, pesticides, chemicals in foods and drugs, preservatives, alcohol, smoking, radiation, EMF’s and GMO’s and on and on. SUGAR causes inflammation and sugar substitutes are extremely toxic. (Stevia is considered a safe sugar alternative) Free radical damage from all of these toxins, cause damage to brain cells and lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Collagen is a protein found in the body and is the main component of connective tissue. Free radicals also break down collagen and lead to aging of the skin. Since Vit. C is essential for promotion of collagen it’s use should be considered vitally important. Smoking depletes Vit. C. Have you ever seen heavy smokers with dull, yellowish, grey and prematurely lined skin?
With regard to Retin A, I think it has to be a personal decision. Yes, it does cause a degree of inflammation and I have seen good results from it on clients, however, the results vary greatly depending on the person’s skin type. There seems to be an abundance of very contradictory views on the use of Retin A. Remember that it is a prescription drug for a reason. It has numerous side effects like most drugs. If you have sensitive skin already, personally, I don’t advise the use of Retin A. Look at the product monograph that comes with it. It’s a topical cream that penetrates the skin but can cause inflammation of joints!!
Certainly we belong in an era where people are obsessed by youth and beauty but we need to look more closely at our environment, what we are putting into our bodies and what we can do to keep our skin healthy by way of proper nutrition and water intake as well as the possible addition of certain supplements if our diets are lacking. A moisturizing cream or a serum is still required when using Retin. What’s in the cream and is it suitable for your skin type? Does it contain alcohol?
To use or not to use? It’s up to you but I suggest caution and always get more than one opinion.
My observations and comments are based on my own experience as a certified medical esthetician and are not intended to take the place of a dermatologist’s advice.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:08 pm

Chris, I just want to point out that pure white sugar, honey and fructose (fruit sugar) are not toxic at all. You may be interested in reading Ray Peat’s articles on that. Here is one: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/glycemia.shtml
I do not recommend stevia.

Re: Retin-A safety, yes I do believe your concerns are valid and I’m going to do another article on that. Long term use may be linked to bone disease. Also it caused an increase in mortality according to this study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19153339

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chris
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 7:03 pm

I went online to find 20 emails from beautyeditor.com. I see you have been busy after the comment by Jenny Gareth. Obviously you see some humour in this.
I also note that you have challenged my opinion on a variety of topics.
* With regard to Retin A, you have stated that you are doing further research. That’s good.
* I don’t believe I have stated anywhere here that fruit sugars are bad for you. I am talking about white refined granulated sugar. There are hundreds on articles online regarding this subject and it’s detrimental effects. The UK Telegraph refers to it as “sweet poison.” A Harvard study suggests that sugar makes blood thick and sticky, thus inhibiting blood flow and interestingly, they also advise people against drinking milk.
* Acne: Ray Peat’s article suggested that INFLAMMATION and HORMONES (insulin) are the root cause of acne. In addition he has stated that he is skeptical of the benefits of CLO.
* I like Almond Oil for topical use on the skin because of the Vit. E content which protects against oxidation. A model in the UK has insured her hands for 5 million pounds and only uses Almond Oil. No sun of course! I didn’t say to drink it.
I will stress however, the EVERY individual case is different and in the case of acne there are numerous reasons. Some may break out with dairy products and some have no trouble, for others sugar may be the culprit. Low thyroid can be a cause, as can celiac disease, hormonal imbalances, stress, steroid use, high fat fast foods and so on.
I have done a lot of research on the causes of inflammation and sugar is considered to be a cause and as such an increase in pain for those with arthritis for example.
All the information at our fingertips can be confusing and in the end it must simply be one’s own choice but keep in mind that diet plays a major part in health and diet and today’s foods are refined, modified, preserved, contain pesticides and colours and anything that you can do to prevent free radical damage (skin aging and neurodegenerative diseases) from these components can only be helpful and that may include some good quality vitamin supplements. Especially if you don’t fancy liver.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 7:45 pm

Yes, I try to pop into these old threads every once in a while :)

Re: sugar, did you read the Ray Peat articles? I don’t trust the Daily Mail or any so-called dieticians or MDs for my nutritional info :) I know it’s a total 180 versus received wisdom but most of what we’ve been taught is a “healthy diet” is complete BS. A lot (if not most) of the studies out there are rigged and biased. Ray Peat writes about that corruption too. Has been researching this stuff for 45 years :)

Yes, I’ve changed my mind about cod liver oil. I written on here that I no longer recommend it, not sure if you saw that article – http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/10/29/vitamin-a-for-acne/

If you study Ray Peat further, there are plenty of quotes where he says directly that acne is related to low vitamin A and low thyroid. This is a good collection of his quotes: http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2011/12/29/ray-peats-brain-building-a-foundation-for-better-understandi.html

Pure vitamin E would be fine to apply topically. Almond oil even topically is not safe – your skin absorbs it. PUFAs are one of the most harmful things you can ingest or apply…

I explained in another comment on this page that people break out from dairy because it increases their metabolism and therefore their nutritional requirements. If they increase vitamin A, the acne will go away. Most people are low in vitamin A because we don’t eat liver like our grandparents did. You can supplement with Nutrisorb-A as an alternative. Eggs have some vitamin A as well but you shoudn’t have more than 1-2 per day.

Low thyroid is the cause of arthritis. Progesterone can also help with that.

I agree with you that the quality of our food supply is abysmal. However, I don’t recommend the majority of vitamin supplements as they contain harmful excipients. Once you get off PUFAs, which suppress your immune system, you will notice how many ingredients cause sensitivities. It’s better to get your nutritional requirements from food.

chris
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 10:54 pm

I have read some of Peat’s articles. The first item that caught my eye was about the causes of acne which he says are inflammation and hormones. In my piece I do agree that thyroid disease and other conditions have acne as a symptom.
In reference to almond oil, I refer specifically to sweet almond oil (there is also bitter) and it appears under the heading of monounsaturated oils. In therapeutic use, this will help to balance the endocrine system and contains the *Essential* linoleic acid (Vit. F) When this is deficient it causes a high rate of TEWL leading to various skin conditions. It’s PUFA (omega-3′s) play a critical role in normal skin functions.
From PubMed site ” almonds and almond oil have similar effect on plasma lipids and LDL oxidation and contain other constituents that are cardioprotective.
You read Peat and I read someone else. We may differ on our opinions according to whose ideas we wish to subscribe to and to base our advice on our own experience and research.
I imagine the model with the 5 million pound (insured) hands must have her cholesterol LDL and HDL checked on a regular basis if she is absorbing that much bad PUFA in her skin.

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shy.tack
Thursday, May 1/2014 at 9:25 pm

I’m only going to point this out because this is a pet peeve of mine, but… did you read the second study you referenced?

“We observed an association of topical tretinoin therapy with death, but we do not infer a causal association that current evidence suggests is unlikely.”

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Alexandra Drouhard
Wednesday, January 29/2014 at 10:14 pm

I’m on my second go-around with Retin-A; I fell off the bandwagon last year when I was spending a great deal of time outdoors and vacationing in South Beach, and I wish that I never did! Once my skin adjusted, I looked like teenager.

I started back with Retin-A in December and am almost done with month two. Unfortunately, month two is paired with a family move out of state somewhere far colder and dryer than where we’re from. The combination of cold, dry weather with my Retin-A is making my skin a total nightmare. Not only am I peeling, but I am getting the famous dry, red skin patches around my mouth. Not so pretty. It hurts, but I know better than to give in.

I do have one addition issue. The two tubes of Retin-A that I have left are both 0.1%. I feel like I would likely benefit from going down in strength, however, here in the US my prescription is rather expensive. I started buffering with a gentle moisturizer and using every three days, but it is still too early to tell if it is working.

Does anyone have any pointers? Please, someone tell me that this is normal and push me forward, because even my partner is telling me to give up after the red patches started getting so unsightly and painful.

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Petrov
Tuesday, February 11/2014 at 8:36 am

Hello Alexandra. It’s absolutely normal what you get it from using retin a. Don’t forget its a strong medication for skin and can have adverse effect. You have to keep using retin a like you said once at 3 days and a good moisture. For me it helped a lot Eucerin Hyalluron night cream. If the red patches and dry skin still is there after you use a good moisture take a pause for 2 weeks, moist your skin every day and go back and start again but slowly and less product until your skin will adjust.

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Lady Anne
Wednesday, June 25/2014 at 7:21 pm

hello guys… i just had this problem on my face. I started using retin a gel for about 2weeks and I rubbed my peeling skin so hard with water and tissue. its on the upper lip and under my nose. like mustache… please help me. there’s a mark of redness on the area and it became a bit darker that my actual skin. what will i do? will i still recover my skin around my mouth or it will be permanent as it is now. can i apply another retin a coz’ im worried that it became thinner now that before. please help me guys on what i can do with the mark. I Rubbed it and it sucks. tnx.

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Chris
Wednesday, June 25/2014 at 9:20 pm

Retin-A cream and gel comes in different concentrations. It is usually recommended that you start with a lower percentage in order to determine how much of a reaction you will have and how much your skin can tolerate. You do not say what % you are using, how much you are using or how often you are using it. These are important considerations.
Rubbing vigorously while your skin is peeling is NOT recommended! You should not interfere with the process of exfoliation and allow the dead cells to come off naturally while using a good quality moisturizer.
You may have “burned” your skin by using a % that is too high for you to tolerate at this point. I would advise you to allow your skin to heal before you continue to use this product. This may take some time and in the interim you must be gentle with cleansing and moisturizing.
Please be careful with this product, ladies. It’s not as benign as it might appear, is a prescription drug and has side effects.

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Xennia
Monday, January 21/2013 at 12:29 pm

I use Retin-A, I’ll always go back.
I never worshipped the sun, but after a stint volunteering in Latin America, my skin went from normal to acne city. Retin-a was the only thing to help.
Combined with Embryolisse cream (the only moisturizer that works for me) and Rosehip oil.
I’m acne free now and scar free because of the Retin-A but I also cut gluten out of my diet and the results have been long lasting.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 21/2013 at 1:54 pm

Oooh Embryolisse cream! I have a trip to Paris coming up and was trying to think of what beauty products I should look for that we can’t get here, and I SO need to buy that! thank you for reminding me :)

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Melissa
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 2:59 am

Would love to hear your thoughts on Avibon when you do come back from Paris… It’s meant to be a good Retin A alternative, right?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 7:27 pm

Ah yes Avibon! I almost bought that here last time I was in NYC: http://www.newlondonpharmacy.com/categories/12-creamsmoisturizers/products/5606-sanofi_aventis_avibon

Not as strong as the prescription stuff but probably a good option for someone who has trouble tolerating retinoids and who has dry skin (I hear it’s in a heavy, Vaseline-like base).

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Jade
Monday, July 15/2013 at 10:51 am

You can make the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè at home for a fraction of the cost. It’s a very simple moisturizer, and also very overpriced.

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Sandy
Wednesday, October 2/2013 at 12:43 pm

what is the recipe for making Embryolisse cream at home?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:10 pm

Yes I would like to know this too! Jade do you have link to your recipe?

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Conny Mc
Monday, January 21/2013 at 12:30 pm

Love my retin A. I only use it every second night for about 6 weeks and my skin is looking fabulous!

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Monica
Monday, January 21/2013 at 1:34 pm

I’ve used Differin in the past with great results (although it takes about 6 months to see any improvement) now I am using Skinceuticals.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 21/2013 at 1:55 pm

The SkinCeuticals retinol?

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Monica
Monday, January 21/2013 at 2:00 pm

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream
I am in the process of reviewing it, as you know takes few weeks to see any results. Its a new product!

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Laura
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 12:25 pm

I’ve been using SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 for about 8 months now, and my skin definitely looks much clearer, my pores are smaller, acne marks fading, etc. BUT I only use it once a week (on Sunday night), and still, every Thursday, my face is all peely – it doesn’t look too bad from far away, but up close you can tell it’s flaking. Is there ever a point where you’re “used to” retinol/retin-A, and you’re still getting the benefits, but your skin isn’t a peely mess?

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Monica
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 12:32 pm

I had flaking too even in past with Differin. Eventually subsides, use a muslim cloth or light exfoliate on flakies.

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 7:23 pm

If you’re only using it once a week then I don’t think that’s frequent enough for your skin to get used to it… which would be why you’re still flaking after all this time. Have you tried upping the frequency to every other night? Also, are you applying 30 mins after washing your face – i.e. on completely dry skin, and then waiting another 45 min to apply moisturizer on top?

Laura
Wednesday, January 30/2013 at 8:52 am

oooh I was not following the 30 min and 45 min rule – I will have to try that. Also, I didn’t know using it more often was a better way to get used to it. Thanks!

Kate
Monday, January 21/2013 at 2:13 pm

Michelle,

Scrap that comment if Dr. Perricone okays it on his site. He told me that he wasn’t a fan of it or other strong acids or ingredients that force the skin to exfoliate because while it makes your skin look temporarily better it’s really causing underlying inflammation. Which is the source of all aging according to him. I’m guilty of using harsh ingredients and tons of over-exfoliating so he scared me! But I’ll ask my derm and give it a shot. I think maybe I just won’t use it every day. Love your in-depth skincare coverage! Hope to see you soon. xo

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 7:21 pm

Do you think he means just people for whom retinoids cause constant redness and irritation? i.e. they’re in a constant inflammatory state? This ELLE article talks about inflammation and there is a quote at the end from Dr. Brandt about Retin-A and it basically being fine as long as you don’t get to that state: http://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/damage-control-3-3

I do think Perricone is amazing too so it does make me wonder though… also he has his own line of natural products so that could be a factor :)

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Jade
Monday, July 15/2013 at 11:01 am

Inflammation/ oxidative stress is certainly a big cause of aging. To reduce it, use antioxidants and a very good sunscreen every day. It just so happens that retinoic acid is an antioxidant…

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Robyn
Monday, January 21/2013 at 2:40 pm

I’ve been reluctant to try Retin-A because I’ve heard that it can cause the skin to thin after long term use. Do you know if this is true?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 7:13 pm

I’ve heard this too but it’s only half true…. and not really a cause for concern in my opinion. What Retin-A does is thin the uppermost layer – the stratum corneum – by removing the dead skin cells that normally sit on top. But it actually thickens the deeper layer of skin – the dermis – which is what plumps out wrinkles and prevents sagging.

Here’s another great Dr. Baumann article that addresses this very topic: http://skintypesolutions.com/index.php?option=com_article&view=article&id=196

I love how at the end she says she has no financial ties to retinoid products so to challenge her with one good reason not to use them! That’s quite the testimonial coming from a derm :)

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Bella
Monday, January 21/2013 at 2:45 pm

I love Retin-A. I use the generic tretinoin ($5 vs ~$580a tube) every night underneath moisturizer. I used to have severe cystic acne, but after being but on antibiotics and Retin-A, my skin has cleared up to the point where I no longer have blackheads. Not to mention the acne scars, small dents from chicken pox, and a few small scars from a car accident a few years ago have diminished or completely gone away.

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Veronica
Monday, January 21/2013 at 4:49 pm

Michelle, can you recommend a good derm in downtown Toronto? My 2013 beauty resolution is to go to one!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, January 21/2013 at 4:51 pm

I go to Dr. Nowell Solish – love him! Dr. Sandy Skotnicki is good too.

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Veronica
Thursday, January 24/2013 at 9:04 am

Thank you!

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Lalala:)
Saturday, February 2/2013 at 11:55 pm

Dear Michelle, do you know how much an appointment would cost if not covered by insurance?

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Ashley
Monday, January 21/2013 at 6:59 pm

I was wondering if you had any over the counter recommends. My derm put me on Retin-A when I was really young (ie. 15) and no percentage was low enough to keep my face from burning. Now I am an adult and am now starting to get weird acne again on the lower half of my face and have thought about giving it another go but everything seems to be specifically for wrinkles. could I use it off label. I was looking at the La Roche Redermic R….

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 6:56 pm

Oh yes you can totally use it for acne or wrinkles… the only concern if for acne is that some of the over-the-counter anti-aging formulations with retinol might be too rich for your skin type (i.e. if they’re in a heavy cream).

You could try SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5, which I think is the most professional-quality one out there for over-the-counter, and I believe it’s made in a way that is less irritating. Redermic would be even milder (0.1) and if I’m not mistaken it’s a serum which would be good for oily skin. RoC has a retinol line as well but I don’t think they disclose the percentages, so not sure how strong it is.

I’m going to write more about this in the next post, but to minimize irritation and burning it is really important that you don’t apply it until 30 minutes after you wash your face. Also, I would recommend waiting another 45 minutes after that and then applying a moisturizer on top.

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Jade
Monday, July 15/2013 at 11:03 am

Check out Avene, they make products with retinaldehyde, which is better than retinol.

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Dana
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 6:25 pm

Hey Michelle I’ve been hearing you rave so much about this facial place. Is the school open to the public? If so do you have a website or something for them? I’ve googled them and came up with nothing. Thanks so much! I’m a regular reader of your blog and just love it! I love the way you write it makes me feel like I’m talking to one of my friends :) keep up the good work! Love a fellow torontonian!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, January 22/2013 at 6:50 pm

Aw thank you – you are too kind! This was at Dermalogica HQ which is not open to the public… but it’s the same facial you can get at any salon that offers their treatments. (It’s called the Dermalogica Signature Facial I believe, and is 1 hour long – they totally customize it to your skin type.) You can find a location here: http://www.dermalogica.com/ca/buy/index.html. Off-hand I know Ritual on King St does them and also Concepts salon in the Holt Renfrew centre. Hope that helps!

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Cheryl
Wednesday, January 23/2013 at 3:33 pm

I’ve been using Differin for around six weeks now. I wanted it for anti-aging. I haven’t noticed a difference in the lines around my eyes (and really, how closely to my eyes can I apply?) or my mouth (I think I was born with those, sigh) but one developing forehead line seems to have diminished.

I definitely noticed that my skin is less congested overall. I’m planning to continue with it even though it’s a bit of a hassle to go back 45 minutes later to apply moisturizer.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 23/2013 at 4:16 pm

That’s awesome you’ve noticed a difference already! 6 weeks is still early though. I’ve heard derms say that you should start seeing marked improvements within months 3-6, but it can take up to a year or longer to get the full results.

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Lisa S
Thursday, January 24/2013 at 2:13 am

I used Retin-A when I was in my 20′s for 6 years straight. As a former lifeguard and surfer, the rest of my body was always tan, but I made sure to put the sunblock on thick on my face. These days, I have gotten carded, been mistaken for a high school student, and asked out by a college freshman, the same age as my son! At age 44, I still wear a size 6 like I did in college, and at 5’10, weigh the same as in college, 120 lbs. I rarely wear makeup, but when I do, I make sure that I have a good moisturizer underneath. Thanks to Retin-A and some good genes, I have even been mistaken for my son’s girlfriend at the grocery store! (much to his embarrassment). Your article makes me want to try this miracle cream again! aloha, L

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:10 pm

Oh wow – that’s amazing! You were so smart to protect your skin despite your job outdoors.

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Alyssa
Friday, January 25/2013 at 10:17 am

Great article! I used prescription strength Retin A on and off a few years ago to “do battle” against my hormonal acne, however I stopped using it because I never managed to get past the red and raw phase. Now, at 26, I understand the importance of prevention (it also helps to have a mother who is obsessed with all things beauty to remind me of these things!). I reintroduced a retinol product into my regimen right around Christmas time – Skinceuticals Refining Night Cream with 1% Retinol – and I started out by using it every 3rd night so as to avoid chaffing off my skin, and have now increased it to every other night. I must echo your sentiments in your article and agree that my skin has never looked so good and glowy! (*As a side note, I did start taking cod liver oil about 5 1/2 weeks ago, and this combo together is giving me a “YOWZA- do I even need to wear foundation today?!” effect. I never would’ve even considered to take cod liver oil without your fantastic site!)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:11 pm

Awesome! So happy everything is working for you – I love these testimonials! :)

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Robyn
Sunday, February 3/2013 at 10:53 am

I was prescribed Retin A Micro (0.04%) last year for stubborn acne on my forehead. I use it every night (and Benzaclin every morning) and my skin is unbelievably clear now. I can’t even believe the mess of pimples that used to constantly be there. It took some adjusting to at first, my skin was very red and dry. But at some point something clicked and I’ve had great results. I only use it on my forehead though… now I’m debating if I should be using it all over! The anti-aging benefit is such a plus. The only complaint I have is that it definitely makes the skin on my forehead oilier. For day to day this isn’t an issue, because it’s moreso “radiant” than oily, but in pictures I look like a bit of a grease ball. But anyway, that’s a small price to pay for clear skin I think!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:22 pm

That’s great that it’s working for you! Do you have very fair skin? I have the same problem in photos and it’s just because the light reflects more when you have lighter skin.

I do think you’d like the effects if you applied it all over – it’s only been a short time that I’ve been back on it, but I already notice a sort of “plumping” effect. Just go easy around the eye area as the crepey look is kind of a pain.

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Susie
Tuesday, February 5/2013 at 9:09 am

Hey Michelle! You’ve inspired me to give retin-A another try. I tried Tazorac .1% cream last fall for three months. My skin looked great, except I still had dry flaky skin around my chin.

I saw my derm yesterday. She said Taz can be pretty irritating so I’m going to try retin-A in .05% (they didn’t have any .025% at my Shoppers Drug Mart).

One thing I did like about Taz is the application recommended on their website. You apply it after your moisturizer. I find it’s easier to spread a pea-size amount on your face over top of a moisturizer instead of on dry skin. This derm also recommends the same application: http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/use-retin-a-tretinoin-for-acne-anti-aging-skin-care/

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:20 pm

Yeah there’s a crazy retinoid shortage going on in Canada right now!

That’s probably a good idea to apply the higher concentration Taz over (or under) a moisturizer until you get used to it. I wonder why your derm started you on 0.1%?

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Susie
Friday, February 15/2013 at 8:41 am

Before I asked for a referral to a derm, I asked my doctor for a prescription for Taz.

I really wanted to try it since Jean Godfrey-June from Lucky magazine writes about it all the time. Supposedly it’s also the brand of retin-A that Dr. Fredric Brandt prescribes.

My doctor did ask me if I wanted to try the .05% first, but I really wanted to go for it! Starting on the 1% right away was dumb.

My derm says she rarely prescribes retin-A because her patients don’t like the redness it causes. She prefers a more gentle retinol.

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A Marklan
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 6:11 pm

How would you compare Retin-A to Rose-Hip Oil? I have been using rose hip oil this winter, and find it irritates my skin. Should it be mixed with something to dilute it? Thanks, love your blog!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:18 pm

Well it does contain natural vitamin A so that could be why it’s irritating you… but I don’t think so. I still use it occasionally and like it, but the vitamin A content is nowhere near the level of Retin-A.

I think it’s more likely that it’s irritating you because it’s an essential oil and they are known to do that.

Maybe try an OTC retinol and see if you get the same reaction – if you do then you’ll know it’s a vitamin A thing, and if not then it’s probably that the rose is the problem.

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Helen
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 2:03 pm

I’m so tempted to get a script for retin A, but wary about the peeling. I’ve been using the SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 night cream off and on, just once a week, for two months now and I still peel like a banana every time! According to the SkinCeuticals rep it is equivalent to up to .025% retinoic acid (Retin-A). I’m looking forward to reading your review of this when you’re ready!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:14 pm

See my response above to Laura. I have a hunch you’re not using it often enough to make your skin get used to it… hence the peeling. Would you consider gradually building up to 2x or 3x a week and also adopting the tips above re: dealing with dryness/peeling? I think that might help!

And yes, I’ve heard that the SkinCeuticals 1.0 is equivalent to the 0.025%. I think it might take longer to get results though as I didn’t notice anything in my short trial… whereas Retin-A made a difference right away.

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Dhara Dalal
Tuesday, February 19/2013 at 11:58 am

I am a 43 yrs old and I am Asian Indian. I have been using Retin-A for several yrs at the .1% level. I get that the stuff sloughs off dead skin better, but I have to say that my skin does not glow. I use it twice a day, everyday. Any suggestions for getting that glow everyone is talking about. I am perplexed! Great article and great responses. Thanks for the info.

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Jade
Monday, July 15/2013 at 11:09 am

Look into applying an antioxidant serum containging vitamin c under your sunscreen.
Also look into niacinamide and n-acetyl glucosamine; they can help even out the skin tone.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:14 pm

Also why are you using it twice a day? You’re only supposed to apply a retinoid at night, it increases sun sensitivity.

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Kharina
Thursday, March 7/2013 at 3:42 pm

Hey Michelle, this is a perfect post as I am seriously considering to start a retin-A relationship. I was looking at SkinCeutical, Jan Marini and Medik8, but realised I can be cheeky and get my doc to write me a prescription. I currently am addicted to my Alpha-H Liquid Gold. I assume, as retinoids “exfoliate” that there is really no need to aggravate it more with glycolic acid? I’ve got combo skin, hormonal acne and am turning 37 this year, so might as well start to anti-age the hell out of me.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:17 pm

Kharina, sorry I’m just seeing your comment now! You could use glycolic in the a.m. and a retinoid at night, just not together… but yes, you may not want/need to since they’re both doing basically the same thing.

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david hubbard
Friday, May 3/2013 at 6:56 pm

i have been using retin a for many years. i am 29. i feel skincare is amazingly important in your daily routine. i am also a smoker. cleansing my face is important. moisterising locks in water and keeps out dirt and impuritys. i cant buy cigarettes or alcohol with out being carded. its horrible. the only thing that shows my age is my receding hairline… hopefully they can fix that soon!

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chris
Monday, July 22/2013 at 1:05 pm

Hi David. I am a certified medical esthetician. The use of Retin A has obviously worked well for you over the years. I use it myself and believe in it’s benefits. You should be aware that smoking causes depletion of your Vitamin C which is essential for the production of collagen. When collagen breaks down, aging occurs. I suggest you increase your Vit. C intake with a supplement or adjust your diet to ensure you have sufficient amounts.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:22 pm

It’s the vasoconstrictive effect of smoking that causes wrinkles. Although, it does lower stress and estrogen.

I don’t recommend vitamin C supplements. It’s better to get vitamin C from orange juice or oranges.

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Mile Stone
Monday, May 6/2013 at 2:14 am

Greetings;

I’ve been a professional make up artist my entire adult life. I’m a international liscensed esthetician. I’m fair, blonde female and I’m in my fifties. The oldest my age has been guessed this month is 42, usually it’s 36. I’ll post a pix if there a place to do so.

I use Retin A. I use it on my face, neck, decolletee, hands, arms and legs. Retin lives up to all it’s promises and then some. There is no reason to spend hours googling it’s effects. Get it and use it. Period. If you want to use it on larger area’s mix a dollop of it and mix it with your leg and arm lotion. The peeling everyone is concerned about goes away and if you’re peeling too much you’re using too much. Retin A doesn’t work any quicker using it in larger amounts. If you’re a just starting and concerned about peeling, use it every other day. If you want to target around your eye’s, mouth and laugh lines everyday brush a minimum amount on these area’s with a lipbrush. Make sure you wait at least 1/2 an hour after washing your face to apply Rentin A.

Dr. Perricone is a dermatologist and knows Retin A works. It’s not professional to frighten people and I hope it wasn’t his intention but perhaps he has his best interst in mind, meaning using his products. Everyone does not tell the truth and I’ve never heard of Retin A causing inflammation that would age one.

There isn’t a product out on the market that increases our collegen production like Retin A so presently another product isn’t going to replace it. Plump collegen is what keeps the skin young. As we age the collegen flattens and Retin A will and does plump the collegen and increase our collegen, thus the reason for younger looking skin.

I’ve read people say facial dry brushing will produce the same result (exfoliation) as Retin A and it’s natural alternative. I find brushes and scrubs can be very harsh on the skin no matter how soft they appear. As a esthetician it’s difficult for me to understand how people can think a topical exfoliant will do the same thing as Retin A that works on the inside of our skin, the dermis layer. It’s not comparable. I am a vegetarian and I’d love to find a natural product that can do what Retin A does but it’s not out there, yet. I choose to look young and I’m very happy with my choice of Retin A. People think it’s dangerous because it’s a prescription. It’s a prescription because the pharmacutical company’s make money selling it this way. Zantac for ulcers use to be prescribtion. Personally I disagree it’s a prescription.

If you’re paticular at noticing every pore on your face I find you will notice it’s effects if used diligently and properly within 5 weeks and five weeks goes by quickly. Remember topical serums, lotions and creams are considered bandaids when compared to Rentin A.

REMEMBER YOUR SUNSCREEN EVEN ON A CLOUDY DAY.

You can order it online to save trips to your doctor or if you get to Mexico a tube of 0.5% is approximently $3.20.

I wish everyone success in making Rentin A a daily part of their regime. When we feel we look as best as we can, we project it to others. Include a positive attitude and gratefulness towards life and you’ll project beauty.

Smiles everyone——————–from Miles.

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Buba
Wednesday, May 29/2013 at 8:06 am

Hi michelle, my problm is dat i ave very thin skin due to steroid creams.before i using these creams my skin was vert healthy and beautiful but now i m not using thm from 4 mnnths i am just takin antibiotic for my acne now my acne are finished and i m not taking antibiotic too but my skin is gettng thin day by day i am 20 years old my skin is smooth aving no lugh lines no wrinkles but small red capillaries are visible specialy undr my eye what should i do to make my skin thick again?is retin a good for me?? I heard retin a can make skin more thin im realy worried tell me something plzz.i dont want to take any risk:-(

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:13 pm

Retin-A actually thickens the skin. However, you’ve been on a lot of medications – have you talked to a dermatologist? You may want to look into your diet for the acne. Low thyroid and low vitamin A are the two main causes of acne. You can start by having a serving of liver once a week and see if that helps.

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Megan
Saturday, April 26/2014 at 8:08 pm

Hi!! Love this post! I have been battling acne for 14+ years now and always love to read others opinions and ideas on it. I am on week 2 of the Retin-A bandwagon. I have been on it in the past, but never used it long enough to get true results. Is coconut oil okay to use with it? Are you supposed to use a moisturizer under or over the Retin-A? Any other tips on moisturizers to use with it that won’t increase oiliness? Is my Proactiv face wash okay to use with it? Thanks in advance for your help! Love your site!

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Cindy
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 9:57 pm

Miles I just read your post. My daughter is going to Cabo next. Is it called Retin A in Mexico or is it under a different name. I had no idea you could buy it that cheap. Would it be available in any of their drugstores or just certain ones. No prescription necessary? Does it have to go through customs or just put it in your checked baggage. Thank you for the info. Please reply if you can. Cindy.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:14 pm

Thanks Miles for your comment! Cindy, if you live in the US isn’t not illegal to order from a Mexican drugstore without a prescription. Farmacia del Nino and My Mexican Drugstore are both reputable.

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Sue
Tuesday, August 13/2013 at 4:59 am

Hi Miles,

Do you know if layering a serum containing hyaluronic acid along with retin A can cause inflammation? Also can the use of a day serum containing salicylic acid lead to additional irritation? I have used renin A for years this way with minimal problems and my skin benefited very well. Recently however, I have experienced a lot of burning discomfort and extreme sensitivity from combinations of things resulting in my going on and off again of retin A. Even with Retin A .1% I have experienced a big loss of collagen, especially around my eyes ( and no I do not put Retin A there anymore). I know at 54 this is a part of the aging process, but it has become quite pronounced and discouraging.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:19 pm

It shouldn’t be a problem to use hyaluronic with Retin-A. Are you doing so to decrease the strength of the Retin-A? Otherwise you can put the serum on in the a.m. and use Retin-A at night, or at night apply your Retin-A first and then wait half an hour and put on the serum plus any moisturizer. That way you let it absorb without another product interfering.

Salicylic acid is irritating, more so than glycolic. It just depends how much your skin can tolerate. Both an AHA/BHA and the retinoid are essentially doing the same thing so you may only need one.

For collagen loss I would look into your diet and thyroid function. Ray Peat has some excellent articles on aging and nutrition.

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Sophia Chong
Thursday, October 3/2013 at 6:52 am

Dear Mile,

Do you mind to post few pictures of yourself as I have always wanted to use Retin A and would very much like to see the wonders that it can do…

Thanks…

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chris
Saturday, April 26/2014 at 8:53 pm

It’s a prescription drug because it can cause *systemic* effects in the body. I recommend anyone using this product to carefully read the enclosed product monograph. There can be side effects with other medications for example and it should not be used during pregnancy. Some people are allergic to ingredients in tretinoin as well, so be careful and do remember everyone will have a different reaction.

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Mo
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 8:25 am

Hello!

I have just recently started using Retin A after seeing a dermatologistfor a skin condition which is on my cheeks . If I use Retin A on only certain patches of my face will it create an unevenness in the texture of the skin on my face and should I apply it to my entire face for consistency in skin texture and appearance?

I’m using the gel and I find it very dry….can I use a moisturizer as well?

Look forward to getting your advice!

Thanks!

Mo

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:08 pm

I would apply it all over. Yes, the gel can be drying – you can back off to 2-3 times a week to start. You can use a moisturizer afterward but wait about 30 minutes or so, in order to let the medicine absorb so the moisturizer doesn’t dilute it. It’s also best to apply the Retin-A on completely dry skin so wait 20 minutes after cleansing – will be less irritating.

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Kate
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 11:14 am

Hey Michelle – I got a prescription for Retin-A but they said it’s back ordered and I wouldn’t get it for at least 4 months…Which alternative did you ask for?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:23 pm

Hi Kate, sorry I’m just seeing your comment now. I had a prescription for the cream (since my skin is sensitive) but had to get the gel in the equivalent strength. I hope you managed to get some by now!

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huw thomas
Monday, July 8/2013 at 10:31 pm

Hi, I think dr perricone now includes retinol in his evening super duper cream. I used tretinoin 0.05% which i believe is retinol / vit A as part of obagi nuderm. Applied at night mixed with soothing hydrocortisone (is that totally the wrong word?!). I’ve done the programme twice about 8 weeks each time – red, peeling (“are you drunk?” “you need to check your blood pressure”) – now they have smoothers to help this but you’ll get it whatever. The elaborate regime did do things ike very quickly removing dark spots (basically bleaching my face) but the redness etc went down but dragged on and i just got fed up. Also, as a man I had to cover it a bit but didn’t want a face of slap so my face looked bit of mess. Obagi bigs up his hydrothingy rather than tretinoin but they did give me 0.05 the second time rather than 0.1. It certainly works unlike normal cosmetics but its tough. Do you put it on whole face or just lines? I prefer hydrofacials and palomar lasers!! (And 35 perricone products which include the same ingredients)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:06 pm

You were on Obagi? Or a homemade Obagi? I agree, it works very well but it’s hard core. I’ve never done it but saw pictures when he was in town for a press event, and you go through hell until you come out the other side with better skin.

I would put a tiny amount of the retinoid all over instead of specific spots.

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RiriSunshine
Sunday, July 14/2013 at 6:01 pm

And I don’t know much about retinoids, but Retin-A and Tanzorac are both for the treatment of wrinkles and other skin conditions. They’re for spot treatment only and having used both, I wouldn’t use either around my eyes.

I use Lady Soma’s Renewal Serum. It’s amazing. I’ve run out and need to get some more and since running out I’ve noticed a difference in the suppleness and softness of my eye area. Its seems to have smoothed out the wrinkles, and made my skin tone even. Love it!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:04 pm

I don’t recommend using retinoids for spot treatment – you’re only supposed to use a pea-sized amount for the entire face. I have checked with dermatologists and it is ok to use around the eyes if you can tolerate it… many people just don’t want to go through the crepey stage (including me!).

I’ll have to check out that product!

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Yolandi
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 3:10 am

Hi

I started using retin-A a couple of days ago on my fine lines next to my eyes and I dont know if I should use it every day or every other day. When I put facial cream (Oil of Olay or L’Oreal day/night cream) it burns like hell. Its so painfull that I almost dont want to use it anymore.

Should I use it less often? Will it have the same effect?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:03 pm

You want to use a pea-sized amount on your entire face, not spot-treat. It’s best to start at a low dose and slowly work your way up from 2-3 times a week to nightly (if you want to) over the course of several weeks. You shouldn’t be getting the burning; that’s a sign you are overdoing it.

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chris
Monday, July 22/2013 at 1:09 pm

Try using it every other day. I have very sensitive skin and now I use it daily and have no redness and only slight peeling here and there. I have been using it for about a month. You have to be persistent. There could be an ingredient in the night cream that you are using that interacts with the Vitamin A. Sometimes it’s trial and error.

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Cindy
Saturday, July 27/2013 at 12:26 am

Please notify me of any comments Thank you

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Trish
Monday, July 29/2013 at 1:36 am

Hi there,

I live in South Africa and am Indian. Will Retin-A help with even skin tone for my skin type, I’ve just gotten back from Thailand and have sunburn and really uneven spots around my mouth. What do you suggest?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:54 pm

Trish, I wouldn’t use Retin-A until your skin has completely healed from the sunburn and you are sure you can avoid the sun. But yes, it can be suitable for all ethnicities, you just need to find a strength that works for you and start slowly, backing off it you get too irritated.

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chris
Tuesday, August 13/2013 at 11:47 am

I am a certified medical esthetician. I have been using Retin-A for about 2 months. (.05%) It can take up to six months to see an improvement. I have very fair skin and I can see a reduction in the lines around my mouth. I am 57 and people compliment me on my skin all the time.
Some tips:
*You must use sunscreen while using Retin-A. It makes you photosensitive, in other words your skin will burn more easily.
*Drink at least 2 litres of water per day. This will help to keep your skin plumped. Hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in the body and is abundant in the skin, decreases as we age. Considering that it holds 1000 times it’s weight in water, increasing water intakes makes sense.
*Avoid eye-make removers which contain alcohol. This doesn’t make sense for use around the delicate eye area.
*Watch what you eat. Antioxidants are essential for fighting free radical damage which causes aging. Sugar causes inflammation and gluten can very often be the cause of acne when we are older. I have first hand experience of this. Lots of green veggies and dark berries!!
*Be gentle with cleansing. I do not recommend dry brushing for your face and be careful with scrubs containing apricot seeds which can “cut” the skin.
*Treat yourself to a facial once a month if you can afford it. I love Dermalogica.
*If you have sensitive skin and you take supplements, look at the non-medicinal ingredients. Gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, colours and others preservatives can cause breakouts.
*Almond oil is superb for smoothing skin. Great for hands and decollete.

*The above opinions are based on my own research and experience and are not intended to take the place of a dermatologist’s advice.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 5:01 pm

Thanks for your comments! Sugar isn’t the enemy most people think it is – as I mentioned above, this is a very enlightening article: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/glycemia.shtml

Green vegetables such as kale are ok if well cooked (they contain some minerals) but I don’t recommend raw green veg. Plants contain defensive toxins and antimetabolites and are often high in pesticides. Also, I don’t recommend almond oil as it is a PUFA – extremely aging. Ray Peat has some more articles on these things.

I agree to avoid soy, preservatives and gluten (it’s toxic for everyone, some just tolerate it better than others).

Dairy is perfectly fine. The reason people think it causes acne is because it increases your metabolism, therefore you have more nutritional requirements. If you don’t have enough vitamin A in your diet then you can get acne. Generally a serving of liver once a week will keep acne at bay.

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Cindy
Tuesday, August 13/2013 at 5:14 pm

I am using retin a every night. I was wondering after awhile could it possibly be drying my whole body out? My hands, lips, and body seem extremely dry. I always use body lotion and no crack hand lotion,emu oil and aquaphor on my lips. Could your whole body absorb the retin a? I drink a lot of water anyway but have been trying to drink more. But don’t want to wash my sodium away either that has happened before. Just wondering.

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chris
Tuesday, August 13/2013 at 7:22 pm

Hi Cindy. The Vitamin A cream will exfoliate the top layer of your skin only and will encourage cellular turnover more quickly. It takes longer for this to take place as we get older. It does not penetrate your skin to such a degree that you will experience dryness of other areas of your body provided you are hydrating yourself well as you seem to be. Try adding a few drops of fresh lemon juice to your water. This will actually hydrate you better and help to balance your pH. Try to protect your lips and the corners of your mouth with Vaseline, coconut or almond oil.
There are several systemic conditions that can cause dryness so I recommend that you see your dr. for assurance. Some medications cause dryness as well.
In the meantime, exfoliate your body (not your face) with a dry brush and moisture twice daily. Moisturizers will penetrate skin more thoroughly when dry, dead skin cells are not clogging your pores.

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Cindy
Tuesday, August 13/2013 at 9:08 pm

Hi Chris, thank you for the information. I do have an autoimmune disease so maybe it is changing into other things. I will see my doctor in October and will discuss it then. Good to know it is not the Retin A. It has improved my skin in so many ways just in the few weeks I have been using it. Don’t want to give it up. Thank you. Cindy.

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chris
Friday, August 16/2013 at 8:45 pm

Cindy. Be cautious when using a Retin A cream when you have an auto-immune disease. There is some evidence that it can cause increased inflammation and joint pain. There are so many varied opinions on the use of Retin A. Some derms recommend it and others do not. As well it must be considered that every person will have a somewhat different reaction to a topical cream, hair product, supplement or food.
In my personal experience as an esthetician, those with a thick, oilier skin type tend to have better results than those with fair sensitive skin that often tends to be thinner as well.
Diet and nutrition and the use of anti-oxidants are essential in the maintaining healthy, youthful skin and keeping it and your body hydrated with lots of water.
* The above opinion is based on my own research and experience as a medical esthetician. Seek the advice of a MD or dermatologist before using any drug especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition in which drug interactions are possible.

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Taija
Thursday, August 15/2013 at 10:54 pm

I don’t understand the fact that if it is so great and actually increases collagen production the why does your skin get back to normal after stopping the usage? Wouldn’t your skin stay where it is and then naturally age from there? I have heard people say the same, it is great while you use it but once you stop it your skin goes back to what it was.
This sounds to me like what people experience is slight swelling during retin a ( inflammation) and nothing else. Has anyone stopped it completely and the face would stay the same? I don’t think constant inflammation is good for the skin in the long run, unless you keep it swollen for the rest of your life using retin A.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:51 pm

Great question! The way it works is not to plump the skin via inflammation. It is increasing cell turnover (which is what slows down with age). The inflammation would just be during the initial adjustment period where you are irritated but should go down with continued use.

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Sue
Friday, August 16/2013 at 5:52 pm

could someone recommend a good moisturizer to use with Retin A while the skin is in the peeling phase? i tend not to use Retin A every night because of the severe peeling…

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chris
Sunday, August 18/2013 at 11:14 am

Hi Sue,
You mention ‘severe peeling’. A chemical peel with a very high percentage will cause severe peeling because that is what is intended. The results can be excellent if you are willing to deal with the redness and heavy peeling in the first 7 days. With Retin A, you need to start with a low percentage such as .025% and gradually build up. You don’t mention the % you are using but it appears to be too much. You can soothe your skin with something like almond oil and then if you wish to continue using it, do start with the lower one. A moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type is important. Your skin does repair itself at night so I recommend a serum as it contain higher amounts of active ingredients. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum is a good choice. A thorough skin analysis by an experienced esthetician, will help you determine what your skin type is. A richer cream is not necessarily a good thing if your skin is oily. Give your skin a rest and then start again. G0od luck!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:39 pm

I don’t recommend almond oil at all – it’s high in PUFA and very aging both topically and internally (our skin absorbs about 20% of what we put on it). Jojoba is a safer oil choice. As for moisturizers, I like the ingredients in the Korres yogurt line… Consonant also makes a serum that’s very hydrating and only has two ingredients.

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Alexa
Sunday, August 18/2013 at 10:00 pm

How long does the undereye area typically take to improve? I’ve been using .05% for approximately 8 weeks and I’m scared to death that this awful more crepey look that has aged me 10 yrs will stay permanently!! It was my problem spot to begin with and I AM applying when/how I’m supposed to. I’m 38 btw. Thanks in advance!

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chris
Monday, August 19/2013 at 3:58 pm

Hi Alexa,
While considered to be effective, the disadvantage of Retin A is that it does take a long time for improvement to be noticed. In fact, it can be anywhere from 4-6 months before you see the results you seek. As with many chemical peels, users are likely to look ‘worse before better’. This can be the case when using it for acne as well. Other chemical peels like glycolic, or high percentage TCA will have much more rapid results – about 2 weeks before all the shedding is complete, redness is down etc. I would have suggested a lower % for the under eye area and then worked up when your skin can handle more. Most women I have talked to have told me that the initial ‘skin looks worse’ phase, is well worth it for the results they now see.
Use a good under eye serum but not directly after application of Retin A.
*Sunscreen is essential and hydrating with lots of water.
I strongly believe in keeping skin healthy by following a good diet, drinking lots of water and staying out of the sun. 87% of skin damage is caused by environmental factors such as pollution, pesticides, sun damage, preservatives, smoking etc. It is important to use a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type and make sure you have adequate Vit. C intake as it is key to the production of collagen.
Also keep in mind that Retin A is a prescription drug and does have side effects and should only be used on the advice of a dermatologist.

*The above opinions are based on my own research and experience as an esthetician and are not intended to take the place of a dermatology consultation.

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Alexa
Monday, August 19/2013 at 4:57 pm

Thanks for your reply! I will be patient, and just cut down or lower the strength for awhile, my face and neck are definitely better, just the under eye area is not so good. And yes, I definitely need to work on hydration!

Anyone else have any input on how long their eye area took to turn around?

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Cecilia
Wednesday, November 20/2013 at 12:03 am

Alexa, thanks for posting your concern. Im actually having the same exact problem, using the same strength of retin a, except I’ve been using it for at least 6 months. I know it’s a long while but I’m still hopeful it’ll get better. My under-eyes no longer have that “crepey” look and feel it used to (as they did early on in my treatment) but I do notice lots of fine lines that I’m pretty sure weren’t there before starting retin a. Sometimes I wonder if it’d be best to quit :-/ Anyways, was wondering if you’ve seen improvements since you last wrote. And please, if anyone else has any input/advice, it’d be greatly appreciated!
Cecilia

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi guys, I had the crepey eye problem as well when I was using Retin-A every night. I don’t think it ever went away and I know what you mean, it looked worse not better. Since it’s the wintertime, I’ve been using it only a few times a week lately (alternating with retinaldehyde or just a regular moisturizer on other nights) and my eye area seems back to normal. I just can’t go that aggressive and live with the dry skin!

Amanda
Thursday, August 29/2013 at 11:30 pm

Hello there,
I loved your blog and found it so useful. I was looking for information regarding Retin-A because I am planning to use Retin-A since i have heard so many good things about it. I am 36yrs old and i always suffer from premenstrual skin problems like acne.Could you kindly suggest in Ontario,Canada where can i buy this product and which brand would be good?I would remain grateful to you.

Thank You,
Amanda

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:32 pm

Hi Amanda, sorry I’m just seeing your comment now. You can’t buy Retin-A over the counter in Canada – it’s prescription only. There are drugstores in other countries that do sell it, eg. Mexico and India – I think many are legit but I don’t know the legalities of that.

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kritika
Thursday, October 10/2013 at 2:29 am

retino ac has ruined my skin! i had perfectly smooth skin, I’m only 22 but now i have orange peel skin. I know retino a exfoliates the skin and opens up the pores, but what i have on my skin now aren’t pores, they’re huge bumps n dents! I’m terrified! and all this just after having used it for 3 weeks. Please help me suggestion, i’ve been to a derm but it didn’t help. I had spotless skin with a pimple or two and i used sun protection and followed all the precautions and steps to apply retino effectively. Was using it only every alterbate day. My skin looks worse than a 50 year old’s.

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Mandy
Thursday, October 10/2013 at 5:41 pm

Stop using it and stick to very gentle cleaner and take vit c. Your skin is prob very dehydrated and has freaked out from retin a. There is many who’s skin has been ruined by retin a but good news is it will prob bounce back in few months. I have laser damage and have same skin however mine is permanent now, it ruined me.

Google retin a damage and retin a damaged my skin and you’ll find others like you and they can help you and tell how to help your skin.

Retin a is tolerated by many but for others it is just too much.

I personal wouldn’t touch it with a pole but I have read about laser damage and retin a damage to try and understand how to fix my skin and the horror stories have put me off for good.

Give your skin a break, baby it and it should bounce back, you only used it for three weeks not for months.

Good luck!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:31 pm

Sorry to hear about your experience Kritika. I hope your skin is doing a lot better now. Mandy, thanks for the input – that’s very worrisome. I’m going to look into this some more.

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hannah
Wednesday, November 13/2013 at 1:58 am

I’m 21. Can I use it yet?

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chris
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 9:06 am

Hi Hannah,
I am a certified medical esthetician with many years of experience. While your skin does begin aging in your 20′s, I would NOT recommend you start using Retin A at this point. Do you really want to use a prescription drug that has many side effects for the rest of your life? Please be aware that while SOME people have really good results, others like Justin (above) have experienced many problems.
My advice to you is to cleanse, tone and moisturize using products based on your skin type. Heavy, thick moisturizers are not suitable for younger skin and can cause breakouts that is why it is important to have a professional skin analysis done.
In addition to this I advise a healthy diet, plenty of water for optimal hydration and avoidance of junk food, preservatives, sugar and too much sun exposure. Following these steps will keep your skin young looking for many years to come. Almost 90% of skin aging is caused by environmental factors!
You could try a light glycolic peel if you are seeing signs of aging? but I recommend a very mild one to begin with and keeping the product on for a short time only. This should be done by a professional and you MUST use sunscreen following any peel.
Get some sound advice from an esthetician at a medical spa or in the dermatology clinic before considering the use of Retin A.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:29 pm

Hannah, can you tell us more about what skin issues you’re facing? If it’s acne, then a lot can be done through diet before you go on a prescription med. Acne is generally caused by low thyroid and/or a vitamin A deficiency. You can eat a serving of liver once a week and see if it clears up. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to use Retin-A at your age but you do have to be super-careful about the sun… I know I wasn’t at your age!

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Justin
Monday, December 2/2013 at 8:48 pm

Oh, i wish i had the same results as you. but unfortunately “tretin-x 0.0375%” has ruined my skin. i went to the dermatologist because i wanted smaller pores and an even glowing skin tone. well she proscribed me tretin-x. well after three months of use. my skin started becoming red and flaky…then acne started appearing on my cheeks along with scaring and discoloration. well it turned out to be a horrible mistake to even began using that medicine. i wish i had my clear clean skin back…because then i never had a break out in my life. ):

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 4:26 pm

Hi Justin, how is your skin doing now? I hope it’s healing now that you’ve backed off the medication. Do you eat liver and shellfish? I recommend getting vitamin A and zinc in your diet (not from supplements) as those are the best skin foods. Also have you checked your temperature and pulse for low thyroid?

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chris
Tuesday, December 3/2013 at 9:18 am

Hi Justin.
You don’t mention how old you are but please read the advice I have offered here in response to other posts. I agree with Mandy that your skin should return to “normal” after a period of time. Remember, it does take several months for results to be seen with Retin and can take as much time for skin to settle down after a reaction such as yours. It’s possible you are sensitive to an ingredient in the cream or that the % was too high to start, using too much (it only requires a tiny amount) or too often. Sometimes every other day is sufficient.
Again I stress the importance of diet, hydration and sun protection. Allow your skin time to recover from this assault and keep it well moisturized with a light cream.
Keep in mind that Retin A is a prescription medication that can cause adverse reactions in some people (including depression) so it’s not just your skin that is affected but your entire body system.

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sharmi hassan
Tuesday, January 14/2014 at 1:53 pm

hi,i am 19 years old am using ratin7 weeks recently my skin become so red and my Acne has become worse i am also using suncreen.what should i do.

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chris
Wednesday, January 15/2014 at 1:51 pm

Sharmi,
Please read some of my posts about retin-A. In answer to your question – STOP using it now. Also, be aware that some sunscreen has ingredients in it that make acne worse. Go to a dermatologist (or look for a different one) You need to have your skin properly evaluated and retin-A may not be right for you.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 3:57 pm

Hi Sharmi, I don’t know how severe the redness is but if your skin is very irritated you can back off completely and let it heal (using bland cleansers and moisturizers, nothing active, etc). Then consider starting back up again less frequently and/or on a lower percentage. If it’s very bad then yes best to check in with your prescribing dermatologist to make sure you’re an appropriate candidate – it’s possible your skin is too sensitive.

If you’ve been using it 7 weeks then I would imagine you should have gone through the adjustment period by now (it’s about 6 weeks). It takes at least 6 months to start getting the full effect of the medication. I would ask your doctor because you should be starting to see some relief in the acne. Maybe what you’re using is too strong for you.

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Jenny Gareth
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 2:27 pm

I read your columns and cannot believe you are allowed to write.
You are an amateur at best and your articles lack depth, proper grammer
And you are all over the place. Even a 14 year old can write a more subjective piece than you can. Pathetic attemptS.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, January 19/2014 at 3:44 pm

Wow thank you :) Your comment made me laugh a lot!

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Mindy
Thursday, January 30/2014 at 5:09 pm

Wow, really? I don’t understand the purpose of such a rude comment. If you don’t like her writing, don’t read it!

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Rose
Wednesday, January 29/2014 at 12:12 am

retin-a completely ruined my life. i also developed orange peel texture and wrinkles because of it…its been almost 2 years and it still has not gone away. im in my early 20′s…its so sad. I cry everyday.

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chris
Thursday, January 30/2014 at 9:01 am

Rose: I am sorry to hear you are having such problems with your skin at this time. Retin A is apparently effective for SOME people in reducing wrinkles and perhaps improving acne. It is NOT indicated for everyone and I don’t recommend someone in their 20′s to start using it.
Between ages 16-20, average cellular turnover is 14 days (the number of days skin takes to renew itself) and beyond age 20 it increases by one day or so.
It could be that the intense exfoliating effect of Retin A was not indicated for your skin type. It also depends on the strength that you are using.
My advice to you is this: Please see a dermatologist and get a second opinion as well. You can do online research and get reviews also. There is a solution for this but in the meantime your skin needs some very gentle care. Remember the skin is the largest organ of the body and anything happening internally usually shows up on the skin first so it’s possible that there some other issue at play here. Your stress over this will contribute to the problem.
This is obviously effecting you in a very negative way and I understand how important it is to have your skin looking clear and fresh and that having something like this happen is clearly depressing.
I hope you find the help you need. Good luck!

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Rose
Friday, January 31/2014 at 12:54 am

thanks chris, i really appreciate that! i use cerave pm moisturizer which has niacinamide and ceramides and first aid beauty cleanser. Both of these keep my face healthy and bright looking. of course the texture is no longer perfect but u just take it one day at a time i guess!

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chris
Friday, January 31/2014 at 8:57 am

Hi Rose,
I am glad to hear you sound a bit more positive about your skin. The best thing you can do now is to treat your skin gently. Do not use any scrubs or exfoliants whatsoever until your skin renews itself over a period of time. This could take several months but you have to be patient (5-6 perhaps) but you should definitely start seeing a reduction in the pore size by then and a lessening of the rougher texture. Some people allow the natural oil (sebum) to regain it’s balance within the skin rather than using anything at all but that can be challenging because you feel like you have to do something. Because Retin A is a drug, it does affect you systemically and has many side effects which people are not aware of. It also means that it can take a very long time to work it’s way out of your system as is the case with most drugs. It’s not simply a topical cream that sits on the surface and has very little absorption. Ironically, that’s why so many facial creams and moisturizers do not work!!
Do not consider anything such as microdermabrasion or peels of any kind. Allow nature to take it’s course and remember that because you are still in your 20′s, your skin will be begin to heal itself faster in any case. Keep up your spirits!!
Having said all the above, I know that many people are happy with the results of Retin A but I caution anyone before trying it to read the product monograph carefully and be sure that you understand exactly what is involved. I have often been told by clients that the derm. did not fully explain the effects this product can have.

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patricia hazen
Wednesday, February 5/2014 at 9:09 pm

I am mostly interested in reducing under eye puffiness (bags) without surgery. The puffiness is very distressing to me and have even resorted to wearing eye glasses to cover up the problem. I also have some age spots which I would like your help with. I will appreciate your reply and advice as I am rather confused. Thank you, Patricia Hazen

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chris
Tuesday, February 11/2014 at 10:49 am

Hi Patricia,
I think it is important to rule out any medical condition you may have that can be the cause of under eye puffiness although this is not usually the reason.
Osmosis: Water always travels from the areas in the body where there’s low salt concentration to areas where there’s more salt. It can be from heavily salted food or even from excessive crying – result – under eye puffiness. Issues with thyroid and kidney are possible reasons as can seasonal allergies and sinus infection.
* dehydration from alcohol – weakens delicate under eye skin causing it to sink into a pouch
* sleeping in eye make-up can irritate your eyes and cause fluids to pool
* stomach sleeping – gravity draws fluid to the under eye area
* Heredity
If there is no medical issue you can get some relief from using cold compression with tea bags and cucumber slices and yes, hemorrhoid creams! Pressure-point massage which promotes lymphatic drainage is helpful as well and is done by a qualified facial therapist.
There are many skin lightening creams that target pigmentation spots and I would advise a dermatologist’s consultation regarding this. Certain peels, IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments. Any treatment for pigmentation (age spots) also includes liberal use of sunscreen in order to prevent recurrence. * Dark framed sunglasses can attract the sun’s rays to the under eye area so again, sunscreen use is important and always is in any case.
Hope this helps.

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Fiona
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 6:19 am

I noticed by your picture that you look to be a fair skinned redhead as I am. The picture of Retin A cream in your blog has the percentage of 0.025% and the drug company as Ortho. Is that the exact type of Retin A that you use? I too am in Canada and have an appointment with my GP in 3 days and would like to know this ahead of time in hopes that she will prescribe this to me (to avoid having to wait for derm. appointment).

By the way…. CAN your regular GP prescribe this?

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chris
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 11:36 am

Fiona,
If I may answer this question for you: Yes, your GP can prescribe Retin A for you. Whether he/she will or not depends upon the dr. but incidentally, you can order it online. Personally, I would prefer to have it prescribed but be aware that some drug benefits do not cover it. (It’s not very expensive anyway)
*It is a good idea to start with a low percentage and if you have good results you may want to increase in the future.
*Use of Retin A causes photo-sensitivity so make sure you are using sunscreen always.
*Read the product monograph carefully as again, this is a Rx drug and has many potential side effects.
*Typically, light skinned people show the signs of aging – wrinkling and sagging – more quickly than those with more heavily pigmented skin so again, I stress particularly the effect of sun damage. (this is my skin type also)
*If you are experiencing excessive peeling and redness at first, you may be using too much or using it too often. Every other evening at first may be sufficient. You will have to develop a plan that works for you.
*You should consider your skin type when using retins because as with any skin product they do not work the same way for everyone. A GP doesn’t usually know a great deal about skin care so I would still suggest a derm. consultation before using this product.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 11:52 am

Chris, in Canada it’s not exactly legal to order prescription drugs online though. It’s fine for Americans but in Canada, the government will send you a nice warning letter :)

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chris
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 2:03 pm

Hi Michelle,
You are absolutely correct, I am aware of this. That’s why I don’t recommend it. Health Canada has a website where they state that there are some approved “internet pharmacies” but they are very stringently regulated.
I advise caution with any online ordering and as always, I advise caution when using Retin A which is a licensed provider prescribed drug.
BTW – you have beautiful skin and hair.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 11:45 am

Hi Fiona, yes, that’s my photo so that’s what I was using. I have the cream now (only had gel because there was a shortage in Canada for a while there). I’d recommend the cream if you have more sensitive/delicate skin. You can also get the generic brand Stieva-A. It’s the same thing.

And yes, GPs can prescribe it. Good luck!

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Fiona
Saturday, February 22/2014 at 12:46 pm

Thank you Chris for taking the time to reply so thoroughly, it is much appreciated….I will heed your advise as I have never tried prescription Retin A before. And of course thank you Michelle for replying so quickly. I really would prefer not to wait a possible month or longer for derm appntmnt because I would like to take advantage of the winter months to try this. I do realize that the sun can be as damaging in the winter but it just seems better to get possible peeling, flaky skin out of the way before the clothing layers start to come off.

I really hope I see improvement in my skin because I just turned 46 and am really in the dumps at what is looking back at me in the mirror. I always paid freakishly good attention to my skin from a very early age but it is not paying me back in kind. Fingers crossed and thanks again to both of you!

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mira
Monday, February 24/2014 at 6:24 pm

I have been using Retin-A for a few months. The benefits are amazing! Super smooth skin with a lot of my redness gone. It was prescribed for acne, and I used to constantly have several small breakouts on my face, but it’s now flawless! I’ve been using 0.025% and plan to start 0.05% pretty soon.

The main thing with Retin-A is to ALWAYS wait 20 minutes after cleansing your face to apply it! Once I started doing that, the redness and increased acne stopped. Also, don’t be scared to apply more than a pea sized amount. I’ve found that applying twice that amount doesn’t cause irritation for me. I dunno if I have a “big” face or what, but there’s no way I could get Retin-A all over my face with just a pea-sized amount.

Sunscreen is important too, although I get lax about it to be honest. I used to obsessively reapply every 2 hours, even if I wasn’t going to be in the sun very much at all. Wrinkles happen, regardless of whether or not you coat yourself in Retin-A and sunscreen. For me, the goal is healthy skin.

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Sylvie
Monday, March 3/2014 at 7:05 am

Hello, I’m French and I can’t buy RETIN A (no product since april 2013). This cream is the best, everybody tell that ! (oh I’m ashamed because I’m in a hurry and haven’t time verifying my english mistakes !) Could you tell me a very serious site where I can buy RETIN A from France ? Many thanks.

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Sanjinna Jassi
Tuesday, March 11/2014 at 11:30 am

I have been using the obagi system that includes the retin-a since may 2013 and overall very pleased with the results although I found the corners of my lips getting red and cracking that has left this area with dark patches and unfortunately this area is continuing to feel the same resulting in even more dark areas. Can you please tell me what I can do to improve the darkened area around my lips, a solution to stop this from happening again and again or advise me on what I am doing wrong.
Please help

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chris
Tuesday, March 11/2014 at 5:38 pm

I don’t know about the rest of you but I wonder why the newest question isn’t at the top of the page? I have to scroll through an amazing amount of material just to see an answer, some of it dated 2010.

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Rachael
Monday, March 17/2014 at 3:09 am

I used retin-a for acne off and on from age 16 to 30. Mostly on. In spite if the fact that I am very fair skinned and smoked for a lot of those years (smoke free for 8 years now), I looked like an 18 year old at age 30.

It really helps with acne too by the way! The combination of retin-a and birth control pills changed my skin from a case of severe cystic acne to beautiful skin. I don’t even need to wear makeup.

I still take bc pills, but for some reason stopped retin-a at 29. Now, at age 40 I still look young for my age and people always guess me to be late 30s to early 30s.

However, I’m getting some crow’s feet and very subtle lines in other places on my face. I’ve been back using retin-a fir a week now and plan to use it forever. Since my skin is very sensitive I’ve been using it every other night mixed with emu oil. I can tell it’s working but irritation is tolerable so far. I ordered it film medsmex, which I highly recommend.

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Rachael
Monday, March 17/2014 at 3:10 am

Sorry about the typos! Darn autocorrect.

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lakoni
Monday, March 17/2014 at 3:15 pm

I went to the dermatologist in part because I am 31 and have sun spots that have started to appear (in the last year or so) on my temple/cheek area. He prescribed retin-A but I am concerned, wont using the cream make me even more like to develop sun spots? I have heard it makes skin more sensitive to sun.

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chris
Saturday, March 22/2014 at 8:03 pm

Hi Lakoni,
Here’s some tips for you with regard to tretinoin (retin-A)
Facts: the active ingredient in retin-A (tretinoin) breaks down in sunlight.
- application to moist skin is more likely to cause irritation and peeling.
- some ingredients in other skin products are not compatible with r-A

Using correctly:
1. Always apply at bedtime
2. Never use at the same time as products that contain glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide
3. Wait at least 30 mins (up to an hour) before using any other products
Other tips:
*try using every 3rd night and slowly increase to every night as your skin adjusts. If skin becomes very sensitive, back off and wait till skin returns to normal and then start again.
*apply pea-sized amt. (use same sized amt. for neck and chest area)
*try a gentle cleanser such as Toleriane Cleanser if your skin seems more irritated. Your regular cleanser could be causing the irritation.
* because of the high degree of exfoliation during use of tretinoin do not wax facial hair
*do not use glycolic or other peels, microdermabrasion or laser
*do not use while pregnant
ALWAYS USE SUNSCREEN (containing zinc oxide) Your skin will be much more vulnerable to sun damage from UV rays than if you never used tretinoin
*It will help prevent and lighten sunspots but avoid sunglasses with dark frames which will attract the suns rays to the outer edges of the frames.
Basically, the rule is to use only at bedtime because you will burn if you use it during the day. I have read conflicting reports on whether or not this topical cream (or gel) makes skin photosensitive specifically but any time skin is deeply exfoliated by this prod. or any peel, etc. you will be susceptible to burning and damage and sunspots.
Hope this helps.

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gracia
Saturday, April 26/2014 at 11:25 pm

I just turned 30 and noticed a few dark spots and fine lines or crows feet if others call it under my eyes and i saw my elder sister use retin a on her face. I was just curious so i turned the net to find some talks about the retin a. Im not prone to acne nor have oily skin. I use very minimal products like cleanser/facial wash, toner and a moisturiser. I work in the office i dont get in the aun too often except when i go out for a morning walk around 7am going to work. Ive read the comments and replies here and got irritated about a certain susie who recommends products that are in opposed by michelle who is the article writer; plus i got overwhelmed about too many products listed above i got too tired to read until the end. I believe that nature provides and we dont need too much topical apps nor indulging in too expensive facial spa or derm consultations and their expensive rx. Back to retin a, id like to give it a try under my eyes with .05, but please
give me a feedback if it is safe to use with my products im using right now:
Ordinary facial wash
Etude house 7in1 wonder pore solution
Mary Kay moisturiser 2
Clinique moisture surge intense

I put makeup everyday because it is required in my work.
Plus because im sexually active i take birth control pills with this formula:
Ethinyl estradiol+levonorgestrel

Im new to a more potent antiaging like retin a so im wondering if i coyld give it a try. I dont have trouble with any other part of my face except under my eyes.

Thanks!

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Fiona McBeath
Thursday, June 26/2014 at 12:42 pm

Hey Michelle,

I finally got to see a Derm this past week after months of waiting and she told me that it is not advisable to use Retin A if you have rosacea. Do you or anyone else have any thoughts on this? Also, I have been considering Hyaluronic Acid as have read very good things about it. Cannot by 2% Hyaluronic in gel form as you can in the U.K. which stinks but have been considering buying it from Amazon.

Sorry if this issue has already been discussed but there are just too many posts to go through…..

Thanks!

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Pal
Friday, July 18/2014 at 5:53 pm

Hi Michelle,
I was inspired to use retin-A after reading this article and all the discussions. I started using retin-A 0.25% every night and didn’t notice any flaking until the third week, now I’ve reduced to using it every other night as I do feel my skin feels sensitive esp in the sun. I do have a few questions :
- what is the best frequency for application? Should one avoid applying every night?
- When does flaking really stop?
- When is a good time to move the next higher strength?
- Can you do a combination application? Is that recommended? (e.g use a lower strength on cheeks and higher on temples etc)
- you mentioned one should avoid doing facial wax, is facial threading ok? Otherwise, what is the best method?
- Is it recommended to see a dermatologist to get a skin analysis? I just asked my general practitioner to prescribe this, but long term if I have to move a higher strength, should I see a derma?

Thank you so much for the information.

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