Dry Run How to use Retin-A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

Viktor Rolf Fall 2011 beauty How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

Oops! Just when I convinced you to start using Retin-A, I go and show you this pic of a red-faced model (from Viktor & Rolf’s fall 2011 show) and scare you away.

Okay, seriously? The side effects from using Retin-A are NOT this bad.

But if you start digging around the Internet skincare forums, you’ll definitely start to notice people using the term “the uglies” for the initial phase when your skin is adjusting to using a retinoid. Your face gets red, your skin starts to flake and peel, you get dry patches (especially around the nose and mouth) and sometimes, your fine lines and wrinkles can look worse, not better.

It can be tough. (Heck, I’m going through it right now—and believe me, it’s even more fun coupling the Retin-A adjustment period with nine-hour international flights, a cold and your menstrual period.)

But I’m not giving up, and neither should you, because: a) the benefits of using Retin-A are freaking AWESOME (go back and read this post if you need a refresher), and b) there are ways to make the transition into retinoid usage a lot less traumatizing. Which, handily, is the subject of today’s post!

(Note: Just like last time, I’m using the term Retin-A like you would “Kleenex” to describe the entire category of retinoids: Stieva-A, Tazorac, Differin, etc.)

Why Retin-A treatment sometimes fails

It’s not the medicine’s fault. Usually, people give up because they did one or more of the following—and as a result, they over-irritated their skin.

  • They used too high of a dosage.
  • They used too much of it.
  • They used it too often.
  • They used it on damp skin.
  • They didn’t use enough moisturizer.
  • They didn’t wear sunscreen.

You’d think the prescribing dermatologist would tell you this stuff… but sadly, that’s becoming more the exception than the rule. So hopefully I can help!

How to use Retin-A the right way

How to apply Retin A How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

1. Start with a low dose, and then work your way up.

Retinoids come in various percentages, starting at 0.01 (the weakest), then 0.025, 0.04, 0.05 and finally, 0.1 (the strongest). You might think that starting higher will get you results faster, but it can actually be a recipe for disaster and make you want to abandon ship. Trust me: you need to work your way up.

I think a good percentage for most people to start at is 0.025, which is what I’m using now. I’ve tried 0.01 before, and it didn’t do much of anything. Now, you should know that my skin’s pretty thin and sensitive—so if yours is more hardy, then you could maybe start at 0.05. (Of course, talk to your doctor about this instead of only listening to random people like me on the Internet.)

Alternatively, if even 0.01 is too strong, you could start out with an over-the-counter retinol. RoC is one brand that’s well-known for its retinol products. (They don’t disclose how much they use, which makes things a bit tricky, but you can still expect some subtle results without the irritation of prescription products.) This serum could be worn alone or under your usual moisturizer.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

I’d also recommend SkinCeuticals, which has 0.5 and 0.1 percent strengths of retinol (and in general is just a really high quality skincare line that I totally trust).

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

There are no hard and fast rules for when—or even IF—you need to move up to the next strength. Some people are happy to stay in maintenance mode on a lower dose indefinitely, whereas others, once their skin is used to the medicine, can go for a higher percentage after finishing one or two tubes.

Whether you choose cream or gel depends on your skin type and personal preference. I find the cream easier to work with and less drying—but the ingredients could be slightly comedogenic, so acne-prone skin may be better off with the gel.

2. Wait at least 20 minutes after washing your face to apply it.

This is because when you put Retin-A on skin that’s not completely, 100 percent dry, you’re going to get more irritation. So wash your face with whatever you like to wash it with, and then set a timer for 20 minutes—30 is even better.

Note: Once your skin adjusts, it may not be necessary to follow this step.

3. Apply just a pea-sized amount to your entire face.

pea and pod How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

This stuff is potent, so a pea is all you need. As per the diagram, I like to spread it across my fingertips, and then dab it on my forehead, cheeks and chin so that each quadrant of my face has an equal amount before I smooth it around. (With a cream you have more time to blend, but with the gel format you have to work faster since it’s alcohol-based and evaporates quickly.) Go a bit lighter around the nose and mouth, since those are the flake-prone areas.

Don’t be scared about putting it around your eyes: I’ve talked to dermatologists who say that it’s perfectly fine to apply it right on the crow’s feet. After all, that’s one of the best places to let Retin-A do its thing. Some people, however, don’t like to put any near the eyes because it can make that area look a bit dry and crepey—my experience is that the adjustment takes longer for the eye area than elsewhere.

Also worth noting: Retin-A is NOT a spot treatment. If you’re acne-prone, you might be tempted to put a big glop of the stuff on a breakout, but it could burn your skin and make it look even worse. Just spread it all over in a thin layer and let the meds work their magic.

4. Use Retin-A only at night, and be extra-diligent about sunscreen during the day.

Karl Lagerfeld Spring 2010 beauty How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

The sun’s UV rays break down the vitamin A in Retin-A, making it less active, so there’s no point using it during the daytime because you won’t get the same results out of the product. But that’s not the only reason you should only use it at night. It also makes you much more sensitive to sun exposure—so a fresh application in the morning could put you at higher risk for sunburn, which would only undo all of your hard work!

Also, I would be negligent if I didn’t tell you that you absolutely MUST avoid the sun when you’re on Retin-A. Frequent application of an SPF of at least 30 is key (I use SkinCeuticals or Lavanila), but that doesn’t give you carte blanche to lie out in direct sunlight. Personally, I think it’s better to wear hats, stay in the shade, etc.—especially if you’re using Retin-A for pigmentation issues, which can come back lickety-split without proper protection.

5. Skip applications if you need to… or use more moisturizer.

If you’re doing all of the above but still finding that the Retin-A makes your skin too irritated, there are a couple of things you can do.

One is to cut back to using it every other night, or every third night, and then gradually working your way up until you can tolerate it nightly. Just be aware that this method will be slower to produce results. Also, some people who use it only once or twice a week have reported that even after months of doing this, they STILL get irritated. I’m no MD, but my guess is that they’re using it too infrequently to make their skin adjust… so they’re in a constant state of irritation and then recovery on a weekly basis. You want to push your skin’s limits a little bit, but still make it manageable.

Another option is to use your Retin-A with a moisturizer. My preferred method is to apply the Retin-A on bare skin, at least 20 minutes after washing, and then wait another 45 minutes before applying moisturizer (or a face oil) on top. The reason for this is that you want to let the Retin-A penetrate for as long as possible before diluting its benefits with another product.

That said, some people prefer to apply their moisturizer straight after washing, and then wait the 20 minutes or more before putting on the Retin-A. I haven’t tried this, and suspect it would make the product even weaker, but it’s really a matter of figuring out what works best for you.

You could also try mixing Retin-A with your moisturizer, but again, this would dilute its strength. Plus, it only works with the cream—the gel format, because it’s alcohol-based, doesn’t really lend itself to mixing.

The good news is that you can use as much moisturizer as you like during the day to counteract the dryness! A Clarisonic is also a godsend to deal with the flakiness.

Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing System How to use Retin A (and not turn your face into a red, flaky, peely mess)

6. Use caution with other active ingredients.

Here’s where things can get a bit complicated. If you’re a total product junkie like me, then you need to be aware of how the other products in your arsenal can interact with your Retin-A.

Other acids—including glycolic, salicylic and lactic—shouldn’t be used at the same time as your Retin-A. If your skin can tolerate them, use them in the morning.

You should also use any vitamin C treatments in the morning. (Read this post for why you need an antioxidant.)

Hydroquinone plus Retin-A (and sometimes glycolic too) is the gold standard for treating pigmentation issues. You’re meant to use hydroquinone twice daily… so at night, wait the 45 minutes after applying the Retin-A before you layer hydroquinone on top. (My preferred product is Lustra, which is 4 percent.)

Whew! That’s a whole lotta skincare info. As always, 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.

Get the products

(Retin-A is available by prescription, so talk to your doctor.)

Have your say

Have you ever tried Retin-A?
Do you use a different application method than the ones above?
Which products have made the biggest difference to YOUR skin?

Please note: The commenter below named “Susie” does NOT work at Beauty Editor. I’ve tried my best to jump in where I disagree with her advice. She has no affiliation with this website. Sorry for any confusion.

377 Comments

jen
Tuesday, February 5/2013 at 4:49 pm

I have been using Retin-A for about ten years now and have worked my way up to the .1% strength. I only use it three times a week at night only. I measure out a pea sized amount on the back of my hand and then apply teeny dots of it all over my way so that I know my face is getting equal coverage and I am not oversaturating any one area. It can still cause dryness so I use a lot of moisturizer on the evenings I use it. But, I do think it really works at keeping blemishes (and wrinkles) away.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 5:13 pm

Oh wow – 10 years! You’ll never age :)

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johnm
Friday, August 2/2013 at 2:51 pm

how long is retin a active on skin

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 10:56 pm

Here it says the half life is only 2 hours max. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tretinoin

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Veronica
Thursday, September 19/2013 at 10:50 am

I have been using Retin A for the past month (.o5). with minimal irritationl, my skin does look a little crepe like. My derm. recommened that I go under some laser treatment for hyperpigmentation. What do you think. My skin is olive in color.

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Carmen C
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 7:44 pm

Dear Veronica
After an appt with plastic surgeon and esthetician for hyper-pigmentation (melasma specifically) I was advised and purchased tretinoin 0.05% and hydroquinone 4%. My instructions were to apply one each night (alternating) after washing and without lotion. I am 50 years old. My face is very sensitive to sun, heat and chemicals.

I am amazed at the reduction in melasma in 4 wks on this regime. Hyper-pigmentation apparently can be coming from damage to different layers of the derma. If it is in the uppermost layers people have good results with the above treatment. You can research reliable info on these two products and its efficacy for hyper-pigmentation within google scholar. For that matter you can also research the use of laser on this condition. The esthetician I met with suggested after 3 months of this treatment I could consider getting laser treatment just on the stubborn spots. She felt this was the gentlest approach. (Also, with hydroquinone it is 3 months on and 1 month break)

Of course i have read horror stories on laser, chemical peels, tretinoin and hydroquinone! So in some ways we are taking chances with any treatment.

The day after tretinoin my face is extremely dry, tight and burning. so i have reduced to every third night with tretinoin (and hydroquinone on all other nights directly on unwanted pigmentation – not all over face as i have read it can cause hypo-pigmentation – although the product i am using is suppose to be safe on normally pigmented skin.) The regime is a pain in my arse, but so worth it. I was lucky to have very nice skin most of my life, so was really vain and upset with the melasma.

I now also avoid being in direct sunlight for more than a couple hours a day (fully covered and with hat), I am fanatically using zinc sunscreen whenever i leave the house, and try to be aware and avoid sun exposure thru windows. This is a big lifestyle change but absolutely necessary for someone who is using these chemicals. My garden suffers, but my face is improving. And for now it is worth the trade.

Best luck in your treatment.

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linda
Thursday, March 20/2014 at 12:09 pm

i had a chemical peel a couple years ago and it was torture! The first night of application with the Retin A made me feel like my skin was on fire! like when you see a pan boiling with low water….sizzling…yeah like that! i cried thru the night the itching was insane! Nothing soothed it. i used up almost all the moisturizer that night! horrible. the next night was not so bad. my skin did peel and flake off in chunks like i was told it would and seemed to look glowing and healthy later but DAMN!
Never again!
im using Retin A right now and my skin is chaffed and peeling and a tad itchy. i really just want a good skin moisturizer for the daytime. anything i find irritates my skin. if i use something with SPF in it, it irriatates, if i use something that includes any of : glycolic, salicylic and lactic, it irritates or chafes/dries my skin. im screwed! Olive Oil here i come.

Lisa
Sunday, July 13/2014 at 1:52 pm

@ Linda,

Olive oil is a nice moisturizer, but I also really have had a lot of luck with plain old Vaseline. It’s protective and moisturizing, and quite cheap. I know a lot of people feel that it is not healthy for skin, but I have used it on my acne prone skin since I was a teenager, and it has always soothed it, and I have never regretted using it. The best part–it does not sting at all.

Esther
Sunday, May 18/2014 at 2:32 am

Hi! I have been using Retin A since I was 28. I’m now 42 and no one believes I’m 42. I have no crows feet, no wrinkles around my mouth. It really works. Yes your face will get dry and may be flaky but the results are awesome. I read about Retin A on the internet and I bought it in Mexico. It’s like $25 a tube for the 0.05%. Stick with it.

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Amanda
Tuesday, February 5/2013 at 5:02 pm

I love these articles – you have totally got me onto Retin A and I’m googling like mad to find stuff in Aus!

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Jessica
Tuesday, February 5/2013 at 6:34 pm

Hi there!
I’m from Aus and have been prescribed Differin which she mentions!
Timely article as I have just started using it and have found my skin getting the uglies!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 5:16 pm

Yay Aussies! Hopefully these tips help with the dryness a bit. There’s also a great article here about the payoff after the ugly stage: http://jezebel.com/277896/perfect-skin-in-365-grueling-days-the-wonders-of-retin+a-micro

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Jill
Thursday, March 7/2013 at 3:45 am

HILARIOUS!!! I love it.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 5:14 pm

I’m so glad! Let me know how you get on if you decide to try this.

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Sarah
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 4:53 pm

Just wanted to give my two cents as an Esthetician and an organic product lover. I know that people rave about the results about Retin-A, but my concern is what your skin goes though to get those results. If you don’t do everything you said above, you will get red, irritated, dry, flaky and also often end up with thinner skin too. I don’t like the appearance of thin, shiny skin- your skin should be thicker for better health and protection. Some people do have very thick keratinized skin, large pores and extreme oil production- and they might be the exception. In addition, older women combating signs of aging already have thin skin due to decreased collagen production, so why make that worse?
I just worry that Retin-A is being prescribed too often for young women that don’t need it and they aren’t using moisturizing or nourishing enough products to replenish. And Cetaphil doesn’t count!
(Sorry for ranting here! This comes up all the time-)
Eminence makes a retinol alternative product line: the Bamboo Firming Serum and the Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer are fantastic! And they have clinical results exceeding retinols. Look into them!
I just urge gals to be very cautious and talk to a dermatologist And Esthetician that you trust. Not one that just wants to make a buck.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 5:36 pm

Glad to have your comment! I am a total organic beauty product lover as well… I’ve been off and on with Retin-A but it’s actually one of the few chemical exceptions in my regimen.

Re: the thinning of skin – there is a great article by Dr. Leslie Baumann about that, have you seen it? She explains that it’s only the upper layer that gets thinner with Retin-A (because of the removal of the dead cells) whereas it actually thickens the underlying dermis: http://skintypesolutions.com/index.php?option=com_article&view=article&id=196.

I totally know what you mean about thin, shiny skin looking weird – but my guess is those people are more likely to be over-doing it on the surface exfoliation, like too many peels or microderm…. because if it they were doing Retin-A they would actually be plumping up and thickening their collagen.

As for Retin-A being prescribed too often, not sure – I don’t know any other young people who use it. Seems like these days you have to beg dermatologists to prescribe you anything! (Which was the case with this for me.) I do think it’s an excellent double-whammy for young women who want to both prevent aging and deal with acne/comedones. Much cheaper than laser treatments they want to sell you on – and safer than going on the pill or spironolactone. Plus, for anti-aging it’s a more natural choice than jacking up your face with Botox and fillers.

I do hear you on the nourishing/natural side though and agree that can do wonders as well – I love Eminence and have that retinol serum!

Actually on that note – I want to do an article on whether we actually need to use moisturizer. Dr. Obagi (derm) and Dr. Hauschka (natural) both say no! Interesting…

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Sarah
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for the reply! I will definitely read that article. You bring up some good points, and we can all learn more about our skin, that’s for sure.
I will say that in Texas, I kind of feel like they give out Retin-A prescriptions like candy- especially to younger women who have minor acne (same goes for Accutane but I won’t get started on that!) And of course, you can pick it up pretty easily at spas- like the Skin Ceuticals one you mentioned.
I guess it all comes down to whether you want to put that much effort into applying it correctly, (like you described) and to go through the dry-ugly phase. For me, the answer is no. And I just worry that many women will skip those steps, or forget about the sun, and that means your skin may be worse off than when you started, I feel.
I’ll keep reading these comments though!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, February 8/2013 at 12:03 pm

Oh really? I feel like derms never mention it here. They just want you to pay hundreds of dollars on their laser treatments (which don’t work long-term for acne anyway…). I 100% agree about Accutane – I wonder if they get some kind of kickback because it seems irresponsible to be pushing such a dangerous drug on cases of mild acne. That stuff can damage your liver permanently!

Good point about application – if people aren’t prepared to be diligent and hide from the sun like a vampire, then their skin could be worse off from Retin-A, not better. :(

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Paola
Wednesday, June 5/2013 at 4:13 pm

Fantastic article! Just an aside and not to change the subject, but I also hope you will do an article about whether we need moisturizer or not. I too have been trying to do some research but there really isn’t a lot out there since there is so much money to be made on moisturizers. However, I’m starting to think that all these years of using moisturize has actually made my skin dryer.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, August 26/2013 at 8:32 am

Hi Paola, I don’t think you need to use a moisturizer if you have normal, well hydrated skin already. A lot of the time I just use Consonant Body’s HydrExtreme serum (http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/) which only has two ingredients (so less potential for irritation and toxic chemicals). It’s really light but the hydration benefits last 24 hrs and it’s just fine in the summer when I back off Retin-A anyway. I find most of the creams out there have very questionable ingredients and PUFA oils so that may be why you feel like they make you drier. I also know someone who had great results on dry, eczema prone skin by just applying Vaseline. I don’t think it’s as bad as people think.

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Huw thomas
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 5:45 pm

Good point!!

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Danica
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 4:59 pm

I used it for about 10 weeks but gave up because I was peeling so bad I looked like a snake and it just wasn’t getting any better

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 5:36 pm

Oh no! What strength were you on? Were you using moisturizer with it?

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solorange
Wednesday, February 6/2013 at 9:53 pm

I’ve been using generic Retin-A for about 18 months now. It’s not the miracle product people claim it to be, however, the results are better than any other treatment I’ve tried. And I took Accutane about 14 years ago and HATED everything about it.

Question for you – why exactly does the skin have to be dry before applying Retin-A? I find that when I try to wait, my skin becomes much more dry.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, February 8/2013 at 12:10 pm

I believe it’s because it absorbs much more quickly on damp skin – therefore increasing the possibility of irritation. (It’s the same philosophy as applying regular moisturizer to damp skin – dermatologists always tell you to do that right out of the shower if you have dry skin, because you’ll get better results.)

Now, I suppose if you wanted the Retin-A to be more potent you could try it on damp skin to get better penetration… but if you’re already feeling flaky and irritated then it’s probably not a good idea.

When you say you tried waiting and your skin was more dry – do you mean during the 20-min period before putting on the Retin-A? (Because that’s normal.) Or do you mean the next day, compared to when you applied Retin-A on damp skin?

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solorange
Friday, February 8/2013 at 9:06 pm

thanks, Michelle.
My skin is so dry in that 20min time period that it is too painful to apply the Retin-A because it has already started to flake.

and thank you for the newest post on moisturizing super dry skin. I can’t wait to try some of these.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:26 pm

Ah ok. Well in that case I would do moisturizer first, wait as long as you can (45 mins?) and then Retin-A on top. Some derms advise that method too. No matter what if you use moisturizer before or after it’s going to diminish the potency… but sounds like you would be fine with that trade-off if it’s causing you pain! Hopefully the longer you use it the more your skin will adjust.

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Mary
Monday, February 11/2013 at 5:21 pm

Hi!

I’m 24 and have tried the 0.025 strength on and off for a few months now. I’ve been thinking of giving it another go but I was told by the pharmisist that I should apply the gel, wait 10 minutes and then wash it off, is this okay?
Everytime I use this I get horribly dry skin and I get scared and quit but now that I’m single and NOT looking I might just suck it up and try and get through “the uglies”.

Thanks!

Mary

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:29 pm

Hmm I’ve never heard that one! I mean, you could try it and see if you get results… but my feeling is that 10 mins isn’t really long enough to get the benefits of the medication. Have you asked your dermatologist what he/she recommends? I would probably trust their advice over a pharmacist.

Otherwise, you could try the tips I mentioned above re: waiting after washing your face, applying moisturizer with it, etc.

Or ask your derm for a lower strength – 0.01%. Or try an OTC retinol instead.

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Mary
Friday, February 15/2013 at 2:51 pm

Hi Michelle!

Just wanted to report back! The past two days I’ve waited 30 min approx. after I washed my face for the night and then applied a pea sized amount of the Retin-A and DIDN’T wash my face after 10 mins. Sooooo much better! My skin is still a bit flaky but no where near as bad as it was before when I was doing that. In the mornings I’ve been using Peter Thomas Roth’s 10% Glycolic Toner (which is amazing FYI!) after I wash my face with Cetaphil. Already a huge improvement in clearing up my weird mid-20′s, mid-winter acne. Can’t wait to visit Toronto and buy the Lactic Acid serum you recommended!

Thanks!

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Noel
Monday, February 11/2013 at 10:49 pm

Hi Michelle :) I love reading your posts.
I’ve dealt with acne for a long time and before my wedding, I saw an esthetician who recommended a Retinol Serum that contains antioxidants, caffeine, and 90% green tea polyphenols. It’s called Replenix Retinol Plus Smoothing Serum by Topix and there are 3 different strengths of the serums. I live in South Florida and use 0.05% in winter and 0.1% in summer. It really has helped my skin over the last 5 years and because of the caffeine and green tea, I never really dealt with any harsh effects like I did with straight Retin-A.
My question is, do you think these are good ingredients together? I’m wondering if I should get the regular Retin-A from a dermatologist instead and if it would be more effective.
Thanks!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, February 13/2013 at 3:33 pm

I think if they were formulated together to work synergistically in one product then they are probably fine. Where it’s potentially an issue is when people layer a whole bunch of separate things on their own – that’s when you have to be careful about interactions i.e. glycolic or vitamin C with vitamin A… etc.

If you’re happy with the results you’re getting then no reason to change – but yes a prescription Retin-A would give deeper collagen rejuvenation. (Not sure if your skin is clear right now but it would give you the most improvement for that too.) The dry skin is a bitch yes, but like I said if you start on a low strength, use with moisturizer and exfoliate properly then it’s definitely manageable.

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Shreela
Tuesday, February 19/2013 at 8:44 pm

Week 1 I did 2/week, week 2 every other day, this week started daily, but my morning BHA stung a little for 10-20 minutes today. I was hoping the BHA would melt off the flakes, and it did somewhat. But since I’ve only had flakes and no redness, I’ll use the Retin-A 0.25 again tonight, then next time I’ll use yogurt instead of BHA, as yogurt helps me with surface exfoliation, and has never stung.

But I’ll definitely decrease Retin-A frequency if I turn red.
Thanks!

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Ellie
Saturday, March 2/2013 at 5:06 am

Thank you for your very helpful article.

What happens if you spend time outside in the summer without using a sunscreen?

I work in the garden about 8 hours every day in the summer. Sometimes I use sunscreen but not all the time. “How much” sun can you be exposed to outside with no sunscreen once you start using
Retin-A?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:03 pm

You will be more sun sensitive so it’s not recommended. I forgot sunscreen once and my face felt very hot and got red – much more so than when I wasn’t using Retin-A and skipped sunscreen. There is no set amount of time since that depends on the individual. I recommend wearing SPF and a hat if you have to spend time in direct sunlight.

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Ellie
Saturday, March 2/2013 at 5:14 am

in addition to my first email to you which was incomplete :

My question – what actually happens to your skin
after you’ve started using Retin-A if you spend time out in the sun, but do not use a sunscreen?

FYI re my skin – I spend a huge amount of time outside in the sun during the summer, and I don’t always use sunscreen. My skin happens to tan or turn brown quickly. I am Chinese and I am 68 y.o.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:04 pm

What happens is it accelerates the sun exposure so you could burn much more quickly. Plus it undoes all the work you’re doing with the Retin-A in regards to skin tone.

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Jill
Thursday, March 7/2013 at 4:25 am

Ohhh I’m so glad to read this! I was an over-user, I didn’t want to listen to my derm, and I wanted a miracle RIGHT NOW! Annnnd I learned a serious lesson. I gave myself a sexy, red red red, splotchy chemical burn and made my eyes look like I was 50 (I’m 30). Then I wouldn’t touch it, I was petrified. I also used a bunch of other Asian eye gel things that I couldn’t read the ingredients on (wow did that Asian girl look fresh! Oh wait..she’s Asian.) and some other crap, so that may have contributed. I immediately stopped using anything other than vitamin E oil at all on my face, and tried not to cry; it was my own damn fault after all. My eyes went back to normal after 2 weeks and after 2 months the redness is gone (unless I use certain products, I now have sensitive skin, that’s new). I’ve been eyeballing those tubes of Retin A the last few days, so I googled something and found this! It is very helpful, I no longer feel like a complete and total idiot, and maybe even ready to give this another shot. Sans crazy Asian impulse buys. So thank you!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:07 pm

You’re welcome :) Hope the lower dose of Retin-A is going well now! There are also derms such as Dr. Schultz (Derm TV) and Dr. Denese who recommend glycolic acid instead of retinoids. It seems to have most of the same benefits. I’m not sure if there’s ever been a study directly comparing them.

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Summer
Thursday, March 14/2013 at 2:46 am

Hi, great article! I’m just wondering… Because I didn’t wear any sunscreen besides some occasional coconut oil when I went outside… Will I be damaging my skin? And if so, if I continue to use retin a (but this time with a sunscreen) will it make it better? My biggest skin issues is oilyness and overall redness. (Used to have ivory skin with freckles) I’ve been on retin a for 3.5 months now and my mom never made a big to do over it when she was on it. Help! -confused teen-

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:19 pm

Well derms say that all tans are sun damage (burns are even worse obviously). Retin-A increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production so yes it can help rebuild – plus you are young so your skin has a fast turnover anyway.

That said, you might look into other alternatives for oily skin and redness (Retin-A may exacerbate the latter). Oily skin is often connected to a vitamin A deficiency. Eating liver once a week or supplementing with Nutrisorb-A drops can help. You could also look into using bright incandescent lights and taking aspirin. Redness and rosacea are linked to low thyroid. Often thyroid function can be improved through diet.

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Trenchcoatgirl
Tuesday, May 7/2013 at 10:13 am

I have been using retinol 0.1 percent for a week now. I apply it every night after washing my face with Merle Norman face cleaner (in the pink tub). I wait 30 minutes after washing my face. I have experienced mild flakiness and some spots on my face that scab over a bit but all in all it has not been that bad of an experience for me. I started out with 0.025 every night and didn’t have any peeling at all!!!

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Trenchcoatgirl
Tuesday, May 7/2013 at 10:19 am

Also just FYI it sounds gross but on the spots that were extra dry and a little raw I used a store generic of preparation H. It did wonders for the spots and they healed very well. Try it if your face is raw. It will help!!!

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Emi
Monday, May 27/2013 at 6:41 am

I’ve been using it for 40 days, and my skin is getting worse, pimples doesn’t stop to appear, and red marks of acne are still there. Is this normal?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:27 pm

Yes, I’ve heard this before. Derms say you need to give it 6 weeks but if it’s truly making things worse I’d knock back the strength and the number of days per week you use it, and go really gentle on your skin until it calms down.

But really, if you’re using it to control acne it’s much better to resolve the root causes. Retin-A doesn’t do that, however getting vitamin A in your diet can resolve acne quickly. The best and most effective source is liver, or you can take a vitamin A supplement. Most have a lot of harmful or allergenic excipients, but a good one is Nutrisorb-A. Another common cause of acne is low thyroid. You can determine this reasonably well through taking your pulse and temperature. To raise your thyroid (metabolism) you can follow a thyroid-boosting diet which takes time, or talk to your doctor about thyroid supplementation.

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Susie
Wednesday, June 19/2013 at 6:22 am

Great article! One of the best I have read on Retin A! I am an Esthetician and avid fan and user of Retin A. I believe every woman should have it in their anti-aging arsenal. I have been using Retin A since I was 28. I am 48 now and get mistaken for my boys older sister! That never gets old! You are right in advising to use the lowest strength and move up from there. I tell clients when they first start using it to start off using it every 3rd evening and as their skin gets acclimated to slow work up to every evening. This eliminates a lot of the red, peeling phase. So many people give up because of that or some believe they are allergic to it being that their skin got red, itchy, and was peeling. Don’t give up! You will love your skin in the end!!

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tee
Friday, June 21/2013 at 9:26 am

I have been using Paula’s Choice Retinol and Vichy Liftactiv Retinol HA but have not noticed a difference. And also no issues with any irritation.
I will ask my doctor for Rx but I think he will be more interested in selling me his laser genesis or Zen Obagi. But i will persevere.

My question – my biggest issue is under eye wrinkles. How would I use rx strength Retin A under my eyes, especially without crepey-ness and irritation.

Thanks – and I love the article.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:29 pm

Retinol is the over the counter version so it’s much weaker. Dermatologists I’ve interviewed have told me that it’s fine to apply Retin-A under the eyes, if you can tolerate it. In my experience it does make it go a little crepey but it didn’t irritate. You can be extra-diligent about eye cream or just apply it there less regularly than your regular all-over-the-face Retin-A application.

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Susie
Friday, June 21/2013 at 10:26 am

Tee, The reason you saw no difference with those over the counter products is because the FDA will not allow over the counter products to go any lower the the epidermis (the top layer of skin). Retin A goes down into your dermis is to regenerate your collagen and elastin and that’s what you need to truly effect and change the skin. I have been using Obagi along with my Retin A for 20 years. It is the king of skin care in my mind and with it I was able to reverse sun damage.

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Mariana
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 8:23 pm

I’m using Differin (0.3%) – which seems like a pretty high dosage compared to what has been mentioned here. I’ve been using it for two weeks and unlike many of you here I was totally unprepared for the dry, flaky, itchy skin!!!! I am using CeraVe as my cleanser at night. Is this a good choice? Should I maybe try something else that might help ease the sensitivity? When I wash my face at night, it burns and when I apply moisturizer in the AM, it burns like crazy – I walk around fanning my face for a while. During the day, I re-apply Aveeno ulta-claming moisturizer but that burns too. Is this a normal side-effect? My skin is not terribly red, but it is flaky and very sensitive. What should I be using?

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Susie
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 9:19 pm

First of all please tell me every product you are using on your skin. Starting with your cleanser. Second if you are still using Differin every evening please stop and let your skin return to normal. Then ease into using it again. Start with every 3rd or 4th night and let your skin get slowly acclimated to it. The best thing I can tell you to use on your face is Emu Oil. That stuff is awesome. I have used that for my moisturizer for the past 9 years. Emu oil is very healing. They use it to help heal burn victims.

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Mariana
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 7:47 am

I use CeraVe to wash my face at night. Since using Differin I haven’t worn makeup because of the flaky skin, so no other products go on. Every other night, I use Differin. I think my major reaction was because I wasn’t waiting after I washed my face to put on the gel – like this post suggests, and also the website – so it probably absorbed way more intensely! On the nights I use Differin, I only use that and go to bed. In the morning I wash my face with only water and put on CeraVe with SPF 30. On the nights I do not use Differin I use CeraVe PM moisturizer. I thought I was doing it all correct but I guess not…I will need to wait the suggested 20-30 min’s before putting on the gel.

I’m also wondering if it’s OK to use my Clarasonic during this time or will it make the flaking worse?

I don’t think I will stop using the Differin until my skin heals – but I will give my skin a break for 2-3 days instead of one for now.

Thanks!!!

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Susie
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 9:28 pm

Yes wait at least 20 minute before applying. You cwn also buffer it by applying moisturizer first or mixing moisturizer with the rifferin. This is a strong strength of differin so it will take time for your skin to adjust. Is your pm moisturizer just hydrating? Make sure there are no active ingredients in it.

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Susie
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 9:48 pm

Oops I forgot about your clarasonic question. Wait until you skin has settled down before using it. You don’t want to irritate it further.

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Mariana
Friday, June 28/2013 at 9:59 pm

Thanks* for your input Susie!

Autumn
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 6:24 pm

I just began using Retin A .05% for acne and my very large pores. My question is this–today I got a little more sun exposure than usual. I raised to NEVER be a sun goddess, but moving furniture in the fierceness of a Tennessee summer gave me more sun than I feel as though is safe. I am not BURNT by any means. I loaded up on sunscreen. Will one day wreak havoc on my skin? I’m nervous about Retin A. Also–would vitamin e oil in the morning be a decent moisturizer? Can they be combined?

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Susie
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 9:42 pm

If your not sunburned you should be fine. The best sunscreen is a zinc oxide physical sunscreen. You get a more broad spectrum coverage and you are protected as soon as you put it on. You definitely have to more aware when using retin a but the results are worth it! Are you using retin a for acne or anti aging? Aslo look into extra protection by taking a supplement that can boost your sunscreen. There are a few good ones. Heliocare is one. Also murad sun gurad is very good. Its an antioxdant that you take and you get extra protection on the inside and out.

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Autumn
Thursday, June 27/2013 at 10:03 pm

I am using it for…both I suppose. I have the most horrible hyperpigmentation from cystic breakouts and huge pores. No one in my family has breakouts but I have had acne prone skin since I was 13 and I’m 22. I’m using a salycilic acid cleanser in the morning, vitamin e oil and sunscreen as a moisturizer, then a very gentle cleanser with my clarisonic at night before my retin A. Are these combinations safe?

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Susie
Friday, June 28/2013 at 7:06 am

My heart goes out to you. Cystic acne is painful. Not just physically but emotionally too. The toll it can take on ones self esteem can be overwhelming but just know that the acne and hyper pigmention can all be reversed. It will take time but it will happen!

Are you taking anything orally for your acne? How long have you been using Retin A? Because you are using Retin A be aware that it may make you skin more sensitive to the salicylic cleanser. I would use a gentle cleanser twice a day. I have never use vitamin E oil but I believe that should be ok as your moisturizer. I use Emu Oil. It’s nourishing and healing to the skin. Please use your clarasonic just once a week. Everyday use is too much stimulate for acne prone skin and will only exasperate it.

Please look up the symptoms of estrogen dominance and see if any of that rings true for you. Acne is always a symptom that there is an imbalance in the body somewhere. My people women and men suffer from estrogen dominance. This has much to do with our on environment. The plastic bottles we drink from give of bad estrogen. Also much of the processed foods we eat. The hormones pumped into cattle and other livestock to fatten them up too. It’s almost unavoidable! Please look into a supplement called DIM. DIM is made from brocoli, kale, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. The cancer fighting veggies. DIM removes the bad estrogen from our bodies helping get your body back into balance. You can clear up acne 80% by taking the correct supplement and 30% by using the correct topical. Look on amazon for Nature’s Way DIM. I think it’s the best plus you can read all the reviews.

Are you using anything for your hyperpigmention? It can be reversed with products and treatments like IPL. Intense pulse light laser or photo facial.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:56 pm

Yes, estrogen dominance can be a factor in acne – and most of us women are extremely estrogen dominant. Estrogen increases all stress hormones and is anti-thyroid. (Which is why I mentioned checking your thyroid.)

I do not recommend DIM at all and consider it unsafe. It is made from cruciferous vegetables which are goitrogens and long term can suppress the thyroid (causing even more issues).

There are two much more effective and safer alternatives:
1) A daily raw carrot salad on an empty stomach which improves the ratio of progesterone to estrogen and cortisol. Cheap and highly effective.
2) Progesterone supplementation. The only one I suggest is called Progest-E, it’s very pure and stronger than DIM not to mention more economical.

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Kim
Saturday, December 14/2013 at 7:46 pm

Hi
I saw in an earlier post you said something about spiromolactone being bad for you. My derm prescribed it for my flare-ups as a menopausal woman and it has really helped. I only take a half of a 50 mg tablet daily. Can you tell me what the long term use of this can cause? I am ready to try retinoids and have very sensitive dry skin. Thanks for your help!
Kim

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:47 pm

Hi Kim, well spiro is a diuretic so it’s dehydrating the body and causing sodium loss. Salt restriction increases insulin resistance and decreases the elimination of cortisol. These are good articles: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/water.shtml and http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/salt.shtml

Spiro is also not addressing the underlying cause of the acne. I know it does work well but I would consider thyroid and vitamin A (in your diet) first. Do you measure your pulse and temperatures? Have you checked to see if you have other symptoms of low thyroid? A serving of liver once a week can also clear acne. Or this supplement is also helpful if you can’t get liver: http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/10/29/vitamin-a-for-acne/

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, September 2/2013 at 11:41 pm

I think it will be much easier if you treat the root cause. Acne is very often a sign of vitamin A deficiency. A serving of liver once a week or supplementing with a good quality vitamin A (I suggest Nutrisorb-A) can give results quickly. Another common cause that few people are aware of is low thyroid. You can determine this through your pulse and temperature.

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Jen
Friday, June 28/2013 at 6:00 pm

I’m interested in vitamin e oil as well but I keep reading it causes acne scars to worsen? Is that true or possible?

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Susie
Friday, June 28/2013 at 7:57 pm

Hi Jen, I honestly don’t know about vitamin E worsening scars but it can make acne worse by clogging your pores. Some people can use it with no problem and for others that is not the case. I myself have been using Emu Oil for about 9 years for my moisturizer and I have oily skin. The reason I prefer Emu is because it is so close to our own body oil that your skin excepts it better then a moisturizer. That means it won’t just sit on top of your skin. Your skin drinks it in. It will not clog pores so I can use I on all my clients, no matter what there skin type is like or if the have acne.. It is also used on burn victims to help heal their skin. What kind of acne scarring are you trying to correct?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:07 am

Emu oil is garbage. It’s high in PUFAs and your skin absorbs 20%. PUFAs are unstable and oxidize very quickly in our bodies – they slow down metabolism, thyroid, suppress the immune system and raise estrogen. They are even linked to cancer and accelerated aging.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:02 am

No vitamin E is very healing on scars. It helps with inflammation and prevents excessive scar tissue. I would be cautious applying it on active acne though. You might also try topical progesterone dissolved in vitamin E (Progest-E).

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Jen
Friday, June 28/2013 at 9:29 pm

Mine are not pitted. And they are not really even ice prick scars. They are more like tiny pores that have become deformed because of whiteheads of that makes sense? I really just want to even out my skin tone. A lot of redness. And smooth my skin texture. I’m very oily! I will try emu. And what is jajoba? Everyone is raving about it.

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Susie
Saturday, June 29/2013 at 7:50 am

I have never used Jojoba so I really can’t comment on it but if you are wanting to smooth out your skin then Retin A would be your best bet, Are you using it or have you ever used it. It’s really the king of skin care and is fabulous for acne as well as fine lines, keeps your pores clean, and smoothes out your skin.

Another thing that you might want to research is micro-needling. Micro-needling consist of roll several hundred needles over your face. Ok I realize it doesn’t sound pleasant but the result are wonder and can help smooth your skin. The theory behind it is basically you are making all these tiny pin prick openings in to you skin. Your skin then goes into repair mode make new skin. After you perform this treatment then it is optimum time to apply retin a to your face as those openings will allow the retin a to go in deeper. Keep in mind when you micro needle you should never press had enough to bleed. You just want you skin to turn pink. The results from micro-needing have been compared to fraxel laser. It will help tighten and smooth skin. You can even use it on stretch marks!

As far as the redness of your skin tone it can be a result from products you use or it can be something like rosacea. The best thing to do for that would be to consult with a dermatologist.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:13 am

Jojoba is ok. It’s a wax not an oil and is low in PUFAs. A much better choice than emu!

For texture you could also talk to a dermatologist about fractionated laser resurfacing although it’s pricey. I’ve asked my dermatologist about pore size and unfortunately he said once they’re stretched they don’t come back… but you never know.

If your main problems are redness, oiliness and whiteheads then please see my earlier comments as I think you need to treat the root causes. You likely need more vitamin A in your diet (weekly liver or a good quality vitamin A supplement such as Nutrisorb-A) and it would be a good idea to check your temperature and pulse for low thyroid. Redness can be from irritation but also the root cause is low thyroid.

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Mark
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 5:11 am

Is it ok to apply moisturiser before Tretinoin (Retina-A), if so will this reduce the retin-A’s strength?

Thanks

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Susie
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 8:53 am

It is ok to use moisturizer if you are trying to buffer the reaction your skin has from Retin A. By doing this you lessen the chance of your skin turning red and peeling too much. Did you just start using Retin A?

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Mark
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 9:57 am

I’ve been using retina-a twice per week for 3 weeks now. I’ve had some redness/irritation and some mild flaking. Also for some reason my face always seems warm, is this a side effect while your skin gets accustomed to the cream?

Thanks

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Susie
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 12:27 pm

Yes that warm feeling on your face is part of your skin getting accustomed to the retin a. What strength retin a are you using? Easing you skin into using it as you are doing is the best thing to do for your skin. Make sure you wear a good titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sunscreen everyday. Even when it is cloudy. Retin a makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. Are you using retin a for acne and/or anti aging?

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Zoey
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 1:21 pm

My skin is neither flaking nor peeling. Does this mean my Retin A is not working? Also–horrible painful cystics in my cheeks are popping up. Normal? IB? Wait it out? Stop treatment? How do I know when Retin A is working?

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Susie
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 5:40 pm

How long have you been using Retin A? What other products are you using? Are you using it for acne?

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Mark
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 2:55 pm

I’m using 0.05% for sun damage. As from tonight I will be increasing to 3x per week for 2 weeks.

I just picked up a sunscreen with titanium dioxide.

Thank you for your advice.

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Susie
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 5:55 pm

Honestly, my favorite product to remove sun damage would be a product that has a 4% hydroquinine in it. Hydroquinine is a bleaching ingredient that will light your sun damage. It is an inhibitor as well so it’s kind of like telling your body to not produce those dark spots. I like Retina for acne and anti aging. It’s important that the hydroquinine be 4% and not 2%. 2% is what is in over the counter products and it doesn’t really work. Also another thing you can look into is IPL treatments. IPL is also sometimes called photo facial. It is one of the best ways to eradicate sun damage and freckles. I generally don’t do IPL on clients in the summer because you can not have any sun before and in between treatments. Treatments are generally done every 3-4 weeks apart and you will need to do at least 3 or more depending on the level of sun damage.

To protect yourself even further from the sun you can also research sun screen in a pill. There are a couple of supplements that will help give you added protection from the sun. You still need to put your sunscreen on but these are just an extra boost. They protect you every where! Eyes, lips, ears. Place you can’t are may forget to put sun screen on. Two that come to mind are Heliocare and Murad Sun Guard.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:30 am

I do not recommend taking sunscreen pills. They contain a whole bunch of questionable ingredients which may be allergenic or worse. Seed extracts are PUFAs.

I suggest zinc oxide and a hat :)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:24 am

I recommend to also work on the root cause of brown pigment which is accumulated PUFAs. The formation is triggered by light and accelerated by the PUFAs and a deficiency of vitamin E and selenium, and excess iron. It’s called lipofuscin and I’ve heard of people’s spots going away completely after following a low-PUFA diet. It can take up to 4 years to eliminate PUFA from your tissues when following a low-PUFA diet (which has a multitude of other health benefits as well).

In the meantime, I suggest Retin-A at night and 4% hydroquinone in the morning (and sunscreen). You can buy Lustra from Well.ca in Canada over the counter without a prescription. IPL is ok but the spots can come back, especially if you’re not diligent about sunscreen. You’d probably need at least 2-3 sessions to see a real difference.

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Zoey
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 6:29 pm

I have been using it for one week now. And I’m using it for acne, blackheads and some fine lines on my forehead. I’m using a gentle organic cleanser and gentle organic moisturizer with SPF. I have the knock off clarisonic that is by Olay but I only use it in the evenings before retin a so it sinks down into my skin.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:34 am

Bell Lifestyles Clear Skin Supplement contains toxic and potentially allergenic plant extracts. There are more effective, safer and cheaper ways to resolve acne. Please see my above comments for treating the root causes. Or, if the acne has only started from the Retin-A, it’s too much stimulation and you need to back off to fewer nights per week and possibly a lower strength.

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hitra
Thursday, September 5/2013 at 10:17 am

Does Bioscreen Ginkolis ultra eye lift help solve the purpose of eyelift. I am scared to use it as I get a very bad burning sensation after using it & my skin gets very dry too. Shd i stop using it or can i continue ??? Help me plsssss

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, September 5/2013 at 12:36 pm

I’m not familiar with that product but anything that’s burning your skin isn’t a good idea. Also, nothing topical can produce dramatic lifting effects :)

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Susie
Thursday, July 4/2013 at 7:08 pm

Hi Zoey, You can try adjusting to to the frequency of usage. Start be using your Retin A every 3rd evening and slowly work up to every evening. Definitely stop using the cleansing brush for awhile. That is too much stimulation for your skin and is probably what is cause the breakouts. When using Retin A always be gentle with your skin and use products that are basic. Nothing withan active ingredient. Such as glycolic acid, salicylic, benzoyle peroxide. Check your labels. Retin A take a while to see a difference so be patient. Also you can help rid acne 80% by using the right supplement and 20% by applying the correct topical. This is because acne is always a sign there is an imbalance in the body somewhere. Bell Lifestyles Clear Skin Supplement is an awesome choice that you may want to check into.

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Tee
Wednesday, July 10/2013 at 4:33 pm

Update to my June 21 comment.
Doc asked why I wanted Retin A and suggested his ZO – Obagi line as being better. I said I was ready for Retin A as I have used retinols; he said okay. I asked for the gentlest retin A.
Well he wrote a rx for 0.1 Retin A Microgel (there is a shortage on cream). Pharmacy, they said it was the strongest rx not gentlest.
Also doctor did not advise on how to properly apply, just to use every night. I have a suspect doc does not want me to be successful with rx and to go buy his ZO product.

Anyhow, this article is really helpful, so I will buffer with moisturizer and start with twice a week.

Question – what is the best way to apply for under eye crepey wrinkles?

Thank you!

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Susie
Wednesday, July 10/2013 at 6:48 pm

What there’s a shortage of Retin A?!! I have never heard this so I will have to check it out.

Yes .1 is the strongest. .025 is the best one to start with. Obagi is formulated to work with Retin A maybe that is why he was pushing it. Retin A is fabulous for fine lines and wrinkles where as Obagi is great for getting rid of sun damage and freckles.

You can use Retin A under your eyes like your face. Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser. Apply your moisturizer. Wait 20 minutes then apply you Retin A. A pea sized amount should do your whole face. Make sure to not use any other products with active ingredients when you are using Retin A and of course always wear sunscreen.

Once your skin gets acclimated to using it look micro needling. Doing this treatment before apply Retin A will help the it penetrate deep into your skin and the micro needles make your skin go into repair mode which in turn will make your body produce collagen and elastin.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:37 am

Yes there has been a shortage of retinoids in Canada for some time now. I believe the cream was the hardest to get.

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Lily
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 11:30 am

I’ve been on Stieva-A for almost 6 weeks now.
I’m using tretinoin to treat my acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
I’m 18 btw.
I’m just wondering why I’m getting more breakouts now compared to the first few weeks of using tretinoin.
The acnes are red, under the skin, big ones.
And they are appearing continuously.
Do you know whether it is supposed to be like that or is it because my skin has stopped responding to tretinoin?
Thank you very much.

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Susie
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 1:34 pm

Hi Lily, Just to clarify, the Stieva A and trentinoin are one product correct?
That is cyst acne and it painful! Some people believe when you start breaking out when you are using Trentinion in the beginning that it is your skin purging. I don’t happen to believe that. It has been my experience that when you are getting breakouts like that it is caused by overly agressive treatments to the skin. Make sure you are only using gentle products when using trentinoin. Nothing with and active ingredient. No glycolic, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, retinol, bha, or aha. If you are using your trentinoin nightly back off for a few days and let your skin settle down. Are you exfoliating. Doing this too much and too ruff will cause breakouts. Once a week is all you should do and nothing scrubby on the face. Nothing with bits are beads in it. Something enzyme based for exfoliation is better. Are you taking anything oral for your acne? Also trentinoin is great for acne and anti aging but the best thing to treat hyper pigmentation is something that has a 4% hydroqunine in it to actually lighten up the area.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:39 am

Using hydroquinone at the same time as Retin-A (even if you split them morning/night) can be really irritating. I also don’t recommend it for active breakouts.

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Lily
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 8:46 pm

I do not really exfoliate my skin with harsh treatment.
It’s just a very gentle scrub from Neutrogena.
I’m not taking any oral medication because when I went to my derm, I did not have any nodules and she told me mine is mild acne.
Just a few small active acnes and whiteheads & blackheads on my nose.
Blackheads on my nose has gotten so much better now.
However, my left cheek, which has the worst PIH, it turns red along with the marks as well.
Is that normal?
No I’m not using anything else on my face except tretinoin.
Yes, Stieva-A is the brand name.
I also moisturized my skin every day.
What should I do to stop the breakouts then?
Thank you very much.

Lily

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Susie
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 10:31 pm

A little redness from trentinoin use is normal. Are you using it every night? If so try using it every 3rd night and slowly work up to nightly from there. Always listen to your skin. If you get to irritated, red, or breaks out definitely back off a few days.
There are two fabulous supplements you can research to help get rid of acne. One is Bell Lifestyles Clear Skin Supplement. It is a blood purifier and helps to get your body back into balance as acne can be caused be an imbalance in the body. The other supplement is called DIM. DIM is actually vegetable based. It comes from brocoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale. DIM will remove bad estrogen from our bodies. Bad estrogen comes from our environment, chemicals in our food and chemicals in plastics. Google ‘DIM help cystic acne’ and see what others are saying. If these things don’t work you can call your derm to see if he/she has any suggestions. I have seen the supplements work wonders!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:46 am

I strongly do not recommend either of these supplements. The ingredients are unsafe. The Bell one is garbage, the plant extracts will do nothing and are toxic/potentially allergenic. DIM is made from goitrogens which long term will harm your thyroid. If you want something to oppose estrogens, progesterone is best but I only recommend Progest-E (pure progesterone in pure vitamin E oil). However, I suspect your acne could be quickly resolved with vitamin A in your diet and a more thyroid-supporting diet.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:41 am

You’re likely vitamin A deficient. A weekly serving of liver or a pure vitamin A supplement such as Nutrisorb-A can resolve acne quite quickly. Also investigate low thyroid. It would be a good idea to eliminate all PUFAs from your diet. Bright incandescent lights and aspirin (oral and topical) can help as well.

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Lily
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 10:35 pm

I’ll try researching about the supplements and give it a try later on.
Thank you very much.

Lily

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Kitura
Monday, July 15/2013 at 2:58 am

Hi,
I’ve been using retin A about 5 weeks. I have an oily skin and I use retin A 0.05% cream. No redness and peeling anymore but my skin is oilier than before. Oh! I rinse my face after 3 hours applying retin A. I wanna use jojoba oil as a moisturizer at bed time . I have read about jojoba oil benefits too. What would be the best solution to calm my oily skin?

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Susie
Monday, July 15/2013 at 3:48 pm

I have super oily skin and can tell you the more you try to get rid of the oil the oiler you become. This is because when our skin gets too dry our body will kick into overdrive to produce more oil to help compensate for the lost moisture. Oily skin should only be washed twice a day. I think the extra cleansing you do to wash off the Retin A my be the culprit. May I ask why you are cleansing again? The Retin A doesn’t just sit on top of the skin so once you apply Retin A is goes down into your dermis.

I have never used Jojoba Oil but I have been using Emu Oil twice a day as my moisturizer and love it! It’s healing and soothing. Jojoba may be similar.

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Kitura
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 1:54 am

Yes, I’m aware of how our sebaceous glands work. That is why I realized my skin is more oily because of retin A. It makes the skin dries right and I think it stimulate my glands to produce more oil(This is only my opinion correct me if I’m wrong). This is why I wanna use jojoba oil to moisturize my skin before I sleep. I apply retin A in the evening around 7 pm. After an hour my skin is oily. I rinse my face because I wanna apply jojoba oil on a clean face. I use NNO (nourishing night oil) enriched with vitamin E. I don’t know whether I can apply it in the morning or not. Perhaps can I apply the oil without rinsing my face. But I feel so greasy and dirty. I live in a humid weather, 27 years old and I’m asian.

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Susie
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 5:31 am

Yes you are totally correct as to how our sebaceous gland works. How often are you exfoliating your face? You should be doing this every 3 or 4 days and no more then that or it too will cause the same oil problem. If your not exfoliating at all then that will contribute to the greasy, dirty feel. Two products that I adore and have been using on my on skin as well as my clients is Bio Elements Kerafole and BiON’s Cucumber Scrub. The kerafole is an enzyme based mask. After cleansing your face you apply a thin layer and leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing off. Believe it or not I use the cucumber scrub the exact same way! I don’t like scrub on the face as they can be very damaging. Causing micro tears in the skin. Cucumber is an enzyme too so I just let it do the work. If will leave your skin fresh and clean and make your products work. Also check the ingredients in your Retin A. There are few different forms. Retin A cream is the one I have been using for about 20 years. Retin A micro has dimethicone and Renova contains mineral oil. If you find that exfoliate doesn’t help then contact your derm and see if there is another retinoid formulation better for you skin. Such as differin or tazorac. Having oily skin is a mixed blessing. When it’s to oily it makes us feel dirty but it helps keep your skin looking younger longer!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:54 am

I would only use the oil at night, who wants to look like a greaseball during the daytime? You could use a hyaluronic acid in the a.m. and/or a light moisturizer. Oh, and I recommend washing your face twice a day plus occasional gentle exfoliating to remove the dead skin caused by the Retin-A.

If you’re struggling with oiliness in general then see my above comments re: vitamin A deficiency. That’s the likely cause and you can remedy it with liver or a good quality vitamin A supplement.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:49 am

Emu oil is full of PUFAs and therefore toxic, since your skin absorbs 20%.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 12:48 am

To resolve the root cause of oiliness try getting vitamin A in your diet. A serving of liver once a week or a good quality supplement (I suggest Nutrisorb-A). Jojoba would be fine to calm your skin. I also really like this: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/

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Kitura
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 5:50 am

I exfoliate my face once a week sometimes twice a week with Lanopearl Refining & Exfoliating Scrub. The reason I’m using retin A is to get rid of my mild acne and to minimized pore size. How about switching to gel type instead of cream. Ok, I have plan. Without rinsing before applying jojoba oil I will wipe my face with wet tissue. Will that be ok? Could you give me advice? Thank you very much indeed. :)

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Susie
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 6:40 am

You are very welcome, Kitura. Let’s see if we can get this figured out for you. I think it will be trial and error and finding what works for you. If I were you I would look into one of those exfoliators I mentioned. Scrubs are too abrasive and will cause the oil gland to kick in. Once you have the correct exfoliator try using it every 3 days. The gel may work better for you if you feel it is the cream causing the oil. You could also try putting a tiny bit of jojoba on right after the retin a to see if the same thing happens. It has been my experience that blotting the oil does the same thing as washing too much. It just causes you skin to say ‘Oh no I’m dry! Must make oil!’ However there is no reason you cannot try it and see if it works for you.
Also if you find you are still getting breakouts look into a supplement for your skin. I say this all the time but it’s true…Did you know you can get rid of acne 80% by taking the correct supplement and 20% by using the correct topical? This is because acne at any age is caused by a hormone imbalance in the body. By using the right supplement you can bring your body back into balance. My favorite supplement to get rid of acne is DIM. It is a food based supplement that helps remove bad estrogen from our bodies. We get bad estrogen from the hormones that are in our foods as well as all the plastics that we drink and eat from.Bad estrogen also feeds cancer so it’s just an awesome supplement to take for your health. DIM is made from vegies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts. Dim isn’t just for women. Men and children are all getting an overload of estrogen from the environment so it’s good for them to take as well. Research estrogen dominance and you’ll see all the symptoms of it. Ok I know this was way more info then you wanted but it’s always good to be educated! Let me know if you have any more questions.

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Susie
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 6:42 am

Oh one more thing. I know you said the climate you live in is humid but has the humidity been higher then normal. We are having some steamy days here and I find I am way more oily when it’s like that even if I am in air conditioning all day.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:04 am

Not sure where those stats came from, but I would never recommend someone take a pricey supplement for the rest of her life (that is thyroid suppressive to boot) to deal with acne. How about treating the root cause instead? DIM is made from cruciferous vegetables that are goitrogens and long term suppress the thyroid – and low thyroid is a major cause of acne. You are correct about estrogen dominance being a problem but there is a much safer and more effective way to oppose it which is progesterone. Progest-E is the safest and best product available.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:00 am

Your acne very likely may be caused by a vitamin A deficiency or low thyroid or both. You may want to try liver once a week or a good quality supplement such as Nutrisorb-A, a thyroid-promoting diet, topical and internal aspirin and bright lights. All of these things are very effective and inexpensive and at least something to investigate while trying the Retin-A. You might find you don’t even need it once it clears.

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Kitura
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 7:04 am

I will wait and see my result after two weeks of using jojoba oil ’cause it’s only two nights of using jojoba oil. I can’t get the product you mentioned above for exfoliating in our country. Anyways, the climate here is humid especially in this raining season. It’s 100% humid. I will update my result. Thanks.

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Susie
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 7:24 am

Dang that’s too bad about the exfoliators. You could try and DIY one from pineapples. Maybe that will help. All the best to you!

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Ginger
Tuesday, July 16/2013 at 5:37 pm

I have been using Retin-A for a few months and my skin is quite dry, but I am contining using it anyways. I have a couple of questions. I currently use Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Night cream and Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Day cream SPF 30. Your article says not to combine Retin-A with Glycerin or Vitamin C. These two creams both have Glycerin and they may even have Vitamin C as well. Can you please give me more detail on why I should not be using these products. I really appreciate it. Is there a day cream with spf 30 and a night cream you would reccomend instead that is good for sensitive skin prone to break outs??

Also, I am going to Maui for 1 week and I will be sitting by a pool and ocean at times. Is it okay to just apply sunscreen for this week or will I have to go off of the Retin-A for the week? I dont really want to do this since it might re-set my skin??

Thanks,

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Susie
Wednesday, July 17/2013 at 7:00 am

The reason you need to stay away from products with active ingredients like vitamin c, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinols is because the can make you flake and peel as well. Therefor if you use products containing these ingredients you can cause more irritation to your skin making it more dry and flaky. Vitamin C is a citric acid so it has the potential for being irritating if you are using other products that may be drying. Glycerin however is not irritating. It is actually very soothing so it’s ok to use. If your night cream is an anti aging cream it may contain an ingredient which will not agree with Retin A and really if you use Retin A you need no other anti aging cream as Retin A is the best thing you can use for your skin for this. If you have been using Retin A for several months your skin should not still be dry.

It very important you stop your Retin A use now if you are leaving in a week. It is not worth the risk of damage to your skin to keep using it. Retin A helps remove the top layer of dead cells off so you have fresh new skin cells. Because of this the sun can damage you skin much more easily. Purchase a spf 30 titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sunscreen. This is a physical sunscreen. You get the best coverage and immediate protection from it. Chemicla sunscreens must be applied 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Not good if your are sitting out in it. Apply a nickel size amount on your face and a shot glass size on your body every two hours. There is no such thing as sweat proof or water proof sunscreen so reapplying is vital. Murad makes a supplement called Sun Guard that will boost your sunscreen protection.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:14 am

Sunscreens in pill format are full of unsafe, toxic and potentially allergenic ingredients. I would never recommend them.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:13 am

I think you mixed up glycerin with glycolic. Glycerin is fine. Vitamin C however could be deactivated by the retinoid or vice versa. Also, it could be more irritating and even release free radicals.

I really like this serum for moisturizing, it’s very light and won’t break you out. There are just two ingredients. http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/

SkinCeuticals makes a really great SPF that is non greasy. http://beautyeditor.ca/product/skinceuticals-physical-fusion-uv-defense-spf-50/

I wouldn’t bother with Retin-A until after a vacation. I stop using it in the summer because I spend so much time outside.

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Ginger
Wednesday, July 17/2013 at 1:53 pm

My daily routine is as follows:
Morning: Tone using Caudalie Moisturizing Toner, then I apply Elite Serum Eye Serum, then I apply the Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Day cream SPF 30. I think beleive this is an anti-aging cream. I think it is just full of vitamins to provide moisture.
Night: Cleanse with Clinique Acne Solutions Foaming Cleanser, Tone again with the Caudalie Moisturizing Toner, then I apply a pea sized amount of the Retin-A and after that I apply the Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Night Cream.
Please let me know if you think this is okay or if anything should be changed. I have dry patches still, but I use to look like a reptile so this is an improvement.

I am actually going to Maui in a couple of months. So you think I should stop using the Retin-A one week before my trip and not use it again until I return? What will happen to my skin those 2 weeks I am not using it? Will I start breaking out?

Thank you again for your feedback.

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Susie
Wednesday, July 17/2013 at 5:36 pm

I looked up all those products so I could read the ingredient list. Everything looks good except the Multi-vital night cream. It has retinyl palmitate as well as glycol in it. The retinyl is a form of vitamin a which is what Retin A is. The difference is Retin A goes down into your dermis and regenerates your collagen and elastin. The retinyl goes no lower the the epidermis (top layer of skin). Used together will cause irritation. When you use retin a you want all your other products to be basic and gentle. My favorite moisturizer is emu oil. It’s so similar to our own body oil that the skin excepts it better than a regular moisturizer. You skin drinks it in and it will never clog your pores. The use it on burn victims to help heal their skin! One thing I notice was you did not mention if you exfoliate. This is very important step and has to be done properly. When you don’t exfoliate, dead skin cell just sit on your skin clogging pores which can lead to breakouts and putting on moisturizer on when you haven’t exfoliated just matts the dead cells down. So your skin feels hydrated for a while but by the end of the day is dry again. Only exfoliate once every 4 days and no more than that. Over exfoliating will dry the skin out too. My favorite exfoliators that I heart so much is BiON’s Pineapple Scrub and Bio Elements Kerafole. Since you skin is more on the dry side the BiON’s Pineapple Scrub would be the better choice from you. I don’t use the scrub part of this product believe it our not. It has jojoba beads in it. I like to apply it like a mask and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse it off. Pineapple is an enzyme and will do the job of sloughing of the dead cells. Plus pineapple will bring out the natural moisture in your skin.
Look into Bell Lifestyle Clear Skin supplements for your skin and start taking them asap. Acne is always a sign there is an imbalance in the body so by taking a supplement like this you can help get your body back into balance. Clear Skin is a blood purifier. Another supplement you can research is DIM. This supplement removes the bad estrogen from our bodies and acne is a symptom of too much estrogen. By using the correct supplement you can clear your acne 80% and than 20% by using the correct supplement. Perhaps an over the counter product that has salicylic acid in it can be used for those 2 weeks. It can still make you sensitive to the sun but not to the degree Retin A will. I don’t know how old you are but will encourage you to never stop using retin a because of it’s anti aging properties. I have been using it for 20 years. Started when I was 28. I am currently 48 but still get mistaken for 28-30.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:21 am

Emu oil is crap. It’s very high in PUFAs and since your since absorbs 20% of whatever you put on it, it’s only going to increase your PUFA stores – which are immune and thyroid suppressive (along with a whole long list of other serious problems). I would never suggest using this, you can find lots of alternatives that are low in PUFAs and more safe.

Same thing with the Bell and DIM supplements that Susie keeps pushing here. The Bell one contains toxic/allergenic plant extracts and DIM contains goitrogenic cruciferious vegetable extracts. Besides being harmful, they’re expensive and don’t address the root causes. The most effective things for acne are to correct vitamin A deficiency (through eating liver or taking a safe vitamin A supplement) and correct low thyroid. Estrogen dominance can be balanced via safe progesterone supplementation (Progest-E). Topical and internal aspirin and bright incandescent lights are also helpful. In the meantime, Retin-A can help control acne and improve skin texture/scarring – but it’s never going to resolve the problem for you on its own.

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Sofia P.
Thursday, February 6/2014 at 5:18 am

dear Susie
sorry, but you must research your claims because it’s full of crap. i think that you ‘re overdoing with all that supplements and commercial products full of junks. there are a lot of simple and healthy options to achieve the in and out of our beauty…

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Anna
Friday, July 19/2013 at 6:46 am

Dear Michelle,

please help me!

A while ago, I got prescribed Differin by my dermatologist due to my moderate acne…
I used it once at night for around 3 weeks. I didn’t notice any drying, but I used a good moisturizer with it… However my skin did get very red and only then I noticed that I had bascially peeled it to the raw skin… very bad :-(

Now, after weeks of not using Differin my skin has this crazy shiny dead skin cells sitting on top of it.. It is everywhere and so upsetting I look like a oily, shiny sth… it is not oil though..
I am very upset, the acne has returned and my derm has prescribed my duac (Bpo + antibiotics). I am very much hoping that my skin will repair itself… he said I’ll just have to wait.. great!

Do you know what might help my skin? And also how long will it take.. it’s been quite a while and hasn’t gotten any better :-(
People constantely stare at my and think I am a sweaty, oily sth.

Please help me!
Love,
Anna xoxo

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:26 am

Dermatologists don’t know how to cure acne, they just know how to help the symptoms (and sometimes not even then!). Is your skin still irritated? I think the Duac would still cause dryness so if it were me I don’t think I’d even use that. If you read my above comments the root cause of acne is usually vitamin A deficiency and low thyroid. The first things I would try would be eating liver and/or supplementing with a safe vitamin A such as Nutrisorb-A, topical and internal aspirin, bright incandescent lights (white not red or blue – heat lamps are good). Also check your temperature and pulse for low thyroid. But the vitamin A often works very quickly.

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Ginger
Friday, July 19/2013 at 12:04 pm

I really like the Night cream so I have not yet stopped using it. My is not red and it does not burn so would that by any chance mean I can continue to use it? I also am not keen on taking any supplements, but I can look into that with my Doctor perhaps. I went out the same day you suggested it and I bought the Emu oil. I have been putting it on at night under my night cream. Are you wanting me to use the Emu oil on its own without a night mositurizer? Also, no I am not using an exfoliate. I live in British Columbia and we do not carry that brand in Canada. Could you reccomend a good exfoliater that is wide known and I can easily buy? Thanks again!!

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Susie
Friday, July 19/2013 at 2:41 pm

If you really like your night cream and are not dry and flaky from it then you can continue to use it. Here’s the cool thing about Emu Oil, you can use it alone as a moisturizer or you can add a drop to your fav moisturizer to drive your moisturizer deeper into your skin so you can try using it different ways and see which works best for you. Oh Ginger, I’m in the US and don’t know what brands are sold in Canada.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:32 am

Emu oil is a toxic PUFA and is only going to add to the PUFA burden on your immune system and metabolism, since your skin absorbs 20% of what you put on it. Jojoba and vitamin E are safe alternatives.

For exfoliating one of the most effective and cheapest things is to make an aspirin mask. It’s salicylic acid. Or I also like mild salicylic or glycolic acid toners. I think Dermaglow makes some good ones, it doesn’t really matter which brand. Or if you can find pre-soaked pads they’re pretty convenient, i.e. http://www.philosophy.com/treatments/clear-days-ahead-overnight-acne-treatment-pads,en_US,pd.html

If you wanted to invest in a Clarisonic I wrote about them here: http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/04/19/is-the-clarisonic-the-ultimate-grooming-gadget-or-a-potential-skincare-hazard/

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Ginger
Friday, July 19/2013 at 4:01 pm

I have been looking around and I found that Kiehls makes a Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub that seems to be very popular. It claims it is gentle and people do the same thing you had recommended; they leave it on for 5-10 mins as a mask. Would this be a good option for me to try twice a week?

Thanks,
Ginger

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Susie
Friday, July 19/2013 at 4:30 pm

That exfoliate should be fine. Pineapple and papaya are wonderful exfoliators. I know you will be tempted to use the scrub part of it but the reason I don’t care for scrubs on the face is because the can cause micro tears in the skin. Over time this can thin the skin making it age faster. Scrubs are ok for the body. Especially on elbows, knees, and feet.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:35 am

I prefer acid based exfoliants on my face instead of scrubs, they’re more gentle. Although Kiehl’s products are lovely :)

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Cindy
Friday, July 19/2013 at 11:55 pm

I have just started using Generic Retin A .05. I have followed your instructions for applying it.

I was using it the wrong way just on certain spots and applying my moisturizer first. I will not follow these great instructions.

I have already noticed a difference in the way my face feels and is already a little red. I to use Emu Oil and have used it for at least five or six years. It is the best. I also use Lubriderm Sensitive lotion when the weather is very humid.

My questions is what would you recommed for an affordable gentle exfoliator. I am on quite a strict budget and really splurged to buy the Retin A. Any good over the counter products would be great. Thank you very much.

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Susie
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 12:50 pm

Isn’t Emu Oil awesome?! If you skin gets to red or irritated make sure to have some back off days from the trentinoin.
I can only recommend products that I use on myself and my clients since I know how they work. BiON’s has 2 exfoliators that are reasonable. The Fruit Enzyme Scrub is $18 and is for dryer skin. If your skin is more oily then the Cucumber Scrub is more appropriate. It’s $16. Even though they are scrubs (they contain jojoba beads) I never use them that way. I put a thin layer on and leave it on for 5-10 minutes and let the enzymes do all the work. I am not fond of scrubbing the face as it can be damaging. I don’t know where you are located as these are available in the US. If these don’t work for you then you could look up an enzyme exfoliator that you can make yourself. Just make sure to always make it fresh each time you use it. I hope this was helpful.

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Cindy
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 2:09 pm

Thank you so much for your reply. This website is awesome as is the Emu Oil.

I did look online and there were a lot of natural exfoliators to use. I’m going to try baking soda with my Neutrogena cleanser as a mask. I think that will work well. What do you think?

I am Native American and have discoloration and age spots. I use to be a sun lover, no longer. I do fly fish with my husband but always wear a hat and sunscreen.

I had a laser treatment a very long time ago IPL I believe it was called, and had a very bad experience with it. Have never done anything else to my face. I also take a medication that causes photosensitivity too (Plaquenil). I am using Retin A for anti aging purposes.

We will be going fishing in a few weeks. When should I stop using the Retin A before going.

Don’t want to mess anything up. Thank you so much for taking time to answer my questions.

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Susie
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 6:04 pm

Oh Cindy, please don’t use baking soda. It will be very abrasive to your skin. When you use Trentinoin everything else you put on your face should be gentle. Only exfoliate every 3 or 4 days and no more than that. Stop using your Retin A a week before your trip. If your sunscreen is more than 6 months then you need brand new sunscreen as it loses it’s potency. Purchase a sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide andor zinc oxide. This is a physical sunscreen and you get better coverage then you would with a chemical sunscreen. Also when you apply a chemical sunscreen you have to wait 20-30 minutes before going out in the sun. With a physical sunscreen you get immediate protection. Make sure you are applying enough. A nickel size dollop for your face and a shot glass size for your body. Reapply every two hours no matter what.
I am so sorry to here of your bad experience with IPL. It is a treatment I love performing on my clients and myself. It is a powerful machine in and in the wrong hands it’s scary. I don’t perform them at all in the summer as you can not have any sun before and after treatments. You also can not have any trace of a tan. The darker the skin type the lower the setting must be on the machine. The best product to get rid of that hyper pigmentation is Obagi Clear. It is pricey but worth it. I am testing out a product right now that is supposed to help with it as well. It’s only a little cheaper. It’s called BiON Bio Replenish A.C.E.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:47 am

I think baking soda is too abrasive, try the aspirin mask (I just mash it up with water). Your brown spots are caused by PUFA accumulation, trigged by the sun and various dietary deficiencies/excesses (low vitamin E and selenium plus excess iron). I have heard of people eliminating their spots by completely avoiding PUFAs although it can take up to 4 years on a low-PUFA diet (which I recommend regardless for aging and general health).

In the meantime you could do hydroquinone (4%) in the am and Retin-A at night… although this combo can be more drying/irritating. I wouldn’t do anything until after vacation – not worth the extra sun risk.

Too bad about the IPL, I absolutely would not trust it from anyone but an extremely reputable dermatologist and even then there are horror stories.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:38 am

I would rethink the emu oil. It may feel good and you may like how your skin looks, but it’s high in PUFAs and therefore what you absorb of it (20%) is highly toxic (immune and thyroid suppressive and pro estrogen). Jojoba or vitamin E are safer.

The very cheapest way to exfoliate is to do an aspirin mask – aspirin is salicylic acid. It’s very effective and not harsh on the skin.

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Ria
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 1:23 pm

I have been using tretinoin 0.05% for a month for better skin but all it does is dry peeling around mouth esp when I put bb cream during day. My routine is in the eve, wash face, wait till dry, put tretinoin 0.05% wait a little, then put argerein matrixyl hyaluronic serum all over face and infadolan cream around eyes, then if its still feeling dry, put organic coconut oil.
Please let me know your thought.

Also I use 0.5mm derma roller once a week but that seems to leave lots of needles mark on forehead and side of cheek which won’t go away? Or looks like poar got bigger? So that also doesn’t seems to be working neither.
I thought these needle mark will close after hours of rolling??

I am 33 years old Asian skin. No major problems to begin with but just want anti aging.

Also if I want to be pregnant around Jan next year, when should I stop using tretinoin? Did you stop using it while you are pregnant? As I read there was no difference in baby deformity in one study but everyone recommend not to use this product while pregnant. What is your thought on this?

Many thanks for your help in advance!

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Susie
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 6:41 pm

It sounds like some of your products are interacting with the trentinoin. Argerein and matrixyl are anti aging ingredients. You do not need to be using anything else anti aging when you are using trention. You can however use that product when you are not using the trention and during your pregnancy. You should stop using trentinoin 3 month before you are going to start trying to become pregnant. There are no human test done with trentinoin to really know how it would effect a human fetus but why risk it. Okay, back to your products. I would also stop using the infadolan and coconut oil as well. They both have dried out my oily skin before. BB creams can be drying too. Especially if it is one that s for blemishes. Trentinoin is so powerful that everything else you use on your face should be gentle. A basic cleanser like cetaphil or BiON’s Cleanser for Normal Skin. As a moisturizer I love Emu Oil! Been using it for 7 or 8 years now. You need a titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sunscreen for daytime. That’s really all you need to be using. Every 3 or 4 days use a gentle non enzyme based exfoliator. Bio Elements Kerafole is a good one. Also I have my clients start out using trentinoin slowly. Every 3rd evening to start with. Slowly building to every evening as the skin tolerates it. Also trentinoin should actually be the very last thing you put on your face at night. I mean right before lights out. Trentinoin is light sensitive which is why you apply it in the evening. Even lightbulbs effect it!
I would stop using the derma roller till you skin is all healed up. You should never have any marks from dermarolling. Your skin should just be pink. Make sure to only roll lightly and to always pick up the roller when you are switching to a different direction so it doesn’t scratch your face. Use a small roller for you face to begin with. Nothing bigger than .05.

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Ria
Saturday, July 20/2013 at 11:37 pm

I would also like to ask you that:

I also have Retinol Cream 100,000 IU per ounce. this does not make my skin dry but would this be effective? What is this 100,000 IU mean? is this weak or strong? If I use this and tretinoin cream alternative days, would this work? (also is this no no for pregnancy too?)

So I now know I should put tretinoin just before bed time and put emu oil after. How long should I wait before pitting emu oil?

Also in the morning, what should I put on my face after cleansing?

I have:
-Intense Hydration Serum. 100% Hyaluronic acid, 60% Matrixyl 3000, 25% Argireline, EGF
-Copper Peptide Serum
-Vit C Serum
-SKII Facial Treatment Essence
-Olay Total Effect 7
and I will order Emu Oil today!

For make up, I put sunscreen spf50 then BB cream and mineral powder foundation both from Nude by Nature. (but this BB cream makes dry around mouth when I put it but I like it everywhere else on my face)

I can see my pore if I don’t put BB cream before mineral powder foundation, so I put them both then put coconut oil or veseline lip therapy aloe where its dry and peeling.

My skin type is combination. My nose and forehead can get oily but around mouth is quite dry to begin with.

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Ria
Sunday, July 21/2013 at 1:38 am

Oh and also if I start using tretinoin every third day as you suggested, then what should I put on my face when not using tretinoin days? Emu Oil only or can I put other products??

Many Thanks!!

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Susie
Sunday, July 21/2013 at 1:22 pm

The IU just a way to measure the active ingredient in a product. The FDA will not allow any over the counter to penetrate lower then the epidermis(top layer of skin). Only prescriptions like Retin A can do that. This means that all those products you have only work superficially. I would put them all away for now except the vitamin C. Vitamin C and copper peptide should never be used at the same time. Copper inactivates vitamin C. You always would use the C in the morning as it help protect you skin from damaging sun rays and other free radicals. The copper would be used at night. I don’t know if you can use them during pregnancy as there are no human studies on this. Even though they are superficial it would be best to discuss this with your dr. In the morning cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser. Apply vitamin C, Emu, then spf. If you like the bb cream you can continue to use it. I have a feeling once you start using the correct products the dryness around your mouth will go away. In the evening after cleansing you face apply the emu then before bed your Retin A. Give your skin a break those days you are not using Retin A by just using the emu. You will like your skin better. :) Are you exfoliating? This helps clean out your pores making them appear smaller.

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:56 am

You may love emu oil but it does not love you. High in PUFAs and you absorb 20% of what you put on your skin, so it contributes to their immune and thyroid suppressive, estrogen promoting effects. There are way better options out there for moisturization.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 1:54 am

Sounds like you’re using way too much on your skin! I’d stop the dermarolling and all the different creams. You just want something for moisture besides the Retin-A (and sunscreen). I don’t think coconut oil is the best for the face. I use this which has only two ingredients so very pure: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/

Here are the tretinoin warnings. http://www.drugs.com/pregnancy/tretinoin-topical.html
Personally I don’t think I would use it while I was trying to conceive either. Instead, you can do a lot for anti-aging by following a metabolism-boosting diet, using bright incandescent light (white not red or blue) and opposing excess estrogens through diet and/or supplementation. Progesterone is good for fertility.

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Cindy
Sunday, July 21/2013 at 11:05 pm

So is it better if you don’t use any moisturizer at all after applying the retin a? Or do you use it because the ra feels so dry after applying it? I know you said before it dilutes it. Thank you

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Susie
Monday, July 22/2013 at 9:04 am

Retin A is very drying. Especially when you first start using it. Moisturizing helps buffer the side effects from it. Retin A is so powerful a moisturizer lessen the effects just a little. You still get the benefits of Retin A when using your emu just with out the red, irritated skin. I cleanse my face then apply my emu a few hours before bed. Then right before I got to sleep I apply my Retin A. This is because Retin A is light sensitive. Light makes it much less active. Even a light bulb!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:01 am

Again, emu is one of the worst oils you could put on your skin, high in PUFAs and therefore toxic.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:00 am

I mentioned in the article that you can apply moisturizer on top, but should wait at least 45 minutes. It can dilute the retinoid’s effect if you apply it too soon. As you get used to it, you may be able to decrease the waiting time and/or skip moisturizer all together. The waiting around is kind of a pain!

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Ria
Monday, July 22/2013 at 1:30 am

Thank you sooooo much Susie!
Really appreciate your help.
I will try what you advised me from now on!

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Susie
Monday, July 22/2013 at 8:54 am

You are very welcome, Ria! I think you will be pleased with your skin once you start using your products correctly. Best of luck to you!

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CEG
Monday, July 22/2013 at 11:05 am

Ok, my plastic surgeon recommended this. Are you sitting down? A pea size amount (or less) of 0.1% retin A mixed with the same amount of Crisco. My skin looks amazing, but it did take a few days of the “uglies” before the new skin was uncovered. Miracle concoction.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:05 am

Yikes! These are the ingredients in Crisco:
SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).

You may like what it’s doing for your skin but soybean oil is a toxic PUFA that you’re absorbing and supressing your immune system and metabolism with (as well as increasing estrogen). Your skin takes in 20% of what you put on it. I believe PUFAs are the biggest factor in poor health. I think there are much better choices to cut down on the dryness.

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Cindy
Tuesday, July 23/2013 at 11:12 am

I need some advice on which days to exfoliate when using the Retin A and how often to do it. I don’t want to overdo on that either.

I was using the Micro and switched to the cream, it is much milder for my skin. It seems to actually work even on the days I don’t use it, kind of like a slow release. Is that possible.

I also wanted to ask about going out in the sun. I also swim with my grandkids and wear sunscreen on my face and a hat. I bought some broad spectrum with Ttitanium and Zinc. Do I just need to keep applying it more often? I can’t totally give up the sun. I know you are not suppose to be in the sun at all, but there is no way I can not be out some. Thank you for your time.

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Susie
Tuesday, July 23/2013 at 3:48 pm

Exfoliate every 3 or 4 days whether you are using retin a or not. Retin A has staying power. That is why you have to stop it a week before going on vacation. If I were going to IPL you I’d want you off it for a month.
You definitely need to apply it much more often when you are swimming. There is really no such thing as sweat proof or water sunscreen. If you want to boost your spf protection there is a supplement you can take along with applying your spf. It’s called Murad Sun Guard. I believe this would be a good investment for you since you know you will be in the sun.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:09 am

Sunscreen pills such as Murad Sun Guard contain questionable ingredients and are potentially harmful/allergenic so I would never suggest these. It’s much safer to stay in the shade as much as possible, wear a hat and reapply a mineral sunscreen often. If you really are in the sun a lot then I have to say, rethink your Retin-A usage as it’s only going to make you more sen sensitive and prone to getting spots. An alternative would be glycolic acid. Some doctors (Dr. Schultz and Dr. Denese) seem to think it’s just as effective for anti-aging as retinoids. I don’t know but worth a try if you don’t want the sun risk.

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Cheryl
Wednesday, July 24/2013 at 2:13 pm

I am struggling with adult cystic acne and aging skin. I am 54. I have been using a combo patch for hormone replacement therapy for over a year and wondering if that is the cause of my acne. I like the patch because it did get rid of my hot flashes and made my skin plumper. However my acne has gotten so bad In the last few months i am embarrassed to leave the house. I read and article that the progesterone in this patch can mimic
testosterone which can cause acne. I recently cut back to half of the patch to see if it helps but it is too soon to tell. I also started using retinal o.65 about 6 weeks ago. I have very oily skin and have always had breakouts but not this bad. Do you recommend I go off the hormone patch or instead take the DIM supplement?

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Susie
Wednesday, July 24/2013 at 8:01 pm

I can not recommend you going of the hormone patch. That is something you will have to decide for yourself. However I can tell you DIM is the only thing that stopped my own hot flashes. I was getting them every hour at night. Not sleeping and started getting acne when I hadn’t had a blemish since I was a teen. Within the first week of taking DIM the hot flashes started to diminish and my face cleared up. I thought it had to be in my head at first but I no longer have hot flashes and the acne is completely gone! I still take dim and will never stop as I think it’s so important to rid the body of bad cancer causing estrogen. That alone is a reason to take it.
I assume the retinol .065 is an over the counter product? If so it will not help with acne or wrinkles really. Over the counter products don’t go below the epidermis. You need Retin A for that. It’s da bomb! What other products are you using? Are you exfoliating?

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Cheryl
Wednesday, July 24/2013 at 11:09 pm

I got the retinol from a plastic surgeon who is going to do a partial phenol peel to reduce scars in a couple weeks he said it would prepare my face and make the peel work better. I do have some retin A that I can switch to. It is .o5. Other than that I am using TNS products for cleansing and CeraVe to moisturize. I have been using it almost 6weeks but if anything the acne is worse. I reduced my combo patch to half dose a week ago and it seems my face is a tiny bit better. But As i mentioned before its too soon to tell for sure. I did order the DIM and the emu (I got lotion because I don’t like the feel of oil). But to be honest I am so used to being disappointed by acne products I am a little doubtful. I am impressed with your knowledge however and willing to give it a try. Do you have any other suggestions? Would glycolic acid be too strong to use in the mornings or should I wait till several weeks after my peel is healed.

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Susie
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 9:04 am

Definitely follow your dr’s advice right now for your skin. Do you know why he recommended retinol instead of retin a? Phenol is an extremely deep peel and the results can be quite dramatic. It can last 20 years if you use the correct products to maintain it. It’s the only peel that you have to be sedated for. I have a feeling you will love your skin when you are all done with healing from it! Is there a reason he is just do a partial and not full peel? You don’t say if you are exfoliating or not. If you read my past post then you know I don’t like anything scrubby on the face. Something like that would irritate your acne even more. Use an enzyme exfoliator and let the enzyme do all the work. Only exfoliate every 3 or 4 days and no more then that as that will irritate acne too. I love glycolic but don’t want to be too aggressive right now with you skin right now. Cystic is the hardest to treat and it’s the hardest on you emotionally. It’s extremely painful and scarring. I really think the patch maybe part of your problem. Acne is an imbalance in the body at any age. This is also why so many topical acne products are not working for you. I think once you start taking DIM and using the correct topical you will get your acne under control. When is your peel?

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Cheryl
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 2:49 pm

My peel is aug 7&8th it’s a 2 step procedure. He is not doing a Full face because he thinks I only need it where my scaring is the worse which is on my mid face. I asked him to do more but said the phenol would be too much anywhere else. I pointed out wrinkles and overly textured areas around my chin and mouth and he agreed to do fraxel laser there. He said the peel was for scaring not wrinkles then gave me the address of a website from the dr he learned from to see before and after pictures. About half of the peels were done on people with wrinkles so I am not sure i understand. I guess he is conservative but he is certainly not cheap! He is known for being the best in Tucson and is very nice….but rushed. I do not know why he recommends retinol over retin A. i wondered about that myself. i have noticed however with some of the places i have been to for skin care that they use products they can sell off the shelf and are usually priced out of my range. The TNS products they want me to use would cost over 350.00 a month and i can just not afford that. Anyway….I decided to stop the patch and my DIM is supposed to arrive today. Regarding exfoliation, I am a little confused about what to use. You mentioned using an enzyme exfoliator? I am used to the scrubby kind and admit I probably have been too ruff on my face in the past. It feels so itchy all the time and scrubbing it feels so good. Don’t worry, I understand that I should not be doing that. Is there an exfoliator you recommend that is not too pricey? Also do you know if Emu oil can go rancid? I have some oil I bought a couple years ago and am using it till my Emu lotion comes. It seems to have an odd smell. Sorry to have so many questions but frankly, there’s no one to talk to about all these issues and Drs never have the time. Last question, I have noticed with adult acne the older I get the longer it takes for cysts to leave. I have a large marble sized cyst that is not going away. Is there anything I can do to heal it short of have a dr drain it or getting a cortisone shot? Any home remedying or over the counter products? I really appreciate your being there Susie. Your right about the psychological aspects of having acne. It has caused a lot of anxiety and depression in my life and has lead to a lot of loneliness from being so self conscious.

Susie
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 4:08 pm

Cheryl, It’s sounds like your dr knows what modalities work for different things. I have to agree with him about fraxel working well for wrinkles. A neighbor of mine had it done 3 years ago. She was a big time sun worshiper and had lots of wrinkles and sun damage. Her skin looks awesome now! I think you will have a good outcome. Most dr are rushed because they are usually over booked however all that matters is he is good at what he does. To me there is nothing better then retin a for acne and anti aging but I do know there are several different types of retinol on the market now and some are getting close to retin a. For instance retinyl palmitate is superfical but retinoic acid goes much deeper. Perhaps that is the one he has you using.
I know peeps love the way scrubs feel and I am okay with scrubs on the body but not the face. There are two exfoliators that are enzyme based and I use on myself and my clients that I adore. Bio Elements Kerafole but that one is a bit pricey. BiON’s Cucumber Scrub is great for oily skin. Yes, I know it’s a scrub but I put it on like a mask and leave it on for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse it off. It has jojoba beads in it so if you really can’t resist scrubbing do so very gently after you have let the mask set.
I don’t think I would use that oil if has a smell to it. Emu does not have a smell to it. I would toss it. Emu is inexpensive. It’s not worth chancing more of a breakout or an allergic reaction before your peel.
As we get older and lose collagen are wound healing slows down. It stinks for sure! The best thing I can tell you about cystic acne is never ever pick it. It prolong the healing and can break underneath the skin cause more of a breakout. There is actually an over the counter product that I do like for cystic acne. It’s a clearasil product believe it or not. It’s tinted so only use it in the evening. Put a thick layer right on the pimple and leave it there all night. Be careful to not use retinol or retin a when using it as it can dry out and irritate your skin if you do too much to it making your acne worse. Cheryl, I think your skin is going to be okay. Just give it time. This is something you have been battling a long time and it will take time to heal. Keep your chin up better skin days are ahead for you!

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:25 am

Again, DIM will long term just exacerbate the problems by suppressing the thyroid. To push this product shows a limited understanding of these hormones.

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:23 am

Sounds like the plastic surgeon is trying to sell you stuff. My honest opinion is that the acne will persist until you deal with the excess estrogen from the HRT. There is absolutely no point in taking DIM.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:20 am

You are correct about estrogen being an issue, but DIM I believe is unsafe and long term suppressing your thyroid as it consists of goitrogens. Progesterone is safer and a stronger opposition to estrogen.

Also, I don’t understand recommending DIM to someone on HRT as that’s like a raindrop in an ocean. The HRT is the problem, nevermind the Retin-A.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:15 am

Yes. HRT I believe is extremely harmful and a complete scam with no solid research behind it. I strongly recommend you look up articles by Ray Peat on estrogen and follow his suggestions. Acne would be the very least of the concerns.

Progesterone is safe although I don’t know what the point would be while still on HRT. If you did want to supplement progesterone the only really safe/effective one is Progest-E (pure progesterone in vitamin E).

Aspirin is also good at opposing excess estrogen, as is a daily raw carrot. You may also want to check your thyroid, low thyroid is another cause of acne.

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Cindy
Wednesday, July 24/2013 at 8:45 pm

I just wanted to know if you should exfoliate the next morning after using retin a the night before or wait and do it on the mornings you don’t use it. I followed your instructions. Cleansed my face used the emu then put the retin a on before bed. No redness or dryness at all. I’m wondering if I’m not using enough. Should I be experiencing redness and peeling? This will be my third application tonight. I exfoliated this morning.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:29 am

I would ditch the emu oil which is a toxic PUFA. It doesn’t really matter about exfoliating – at least once a week to every couple of days. Just watch your skin to make sure you’re not irritating it.

As for not having a reaction, it can take 6 weeks to get the full effect. It’s actually better to build slowly without irritation.

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Susie
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 9:15 am

Exfoliate a day or so after using your retin a. You can do it in the morning or evening. Whichever one works best for you. You only need a pea size amount of retin a. . You have no redness and peeling because you are doing it ever 3rd evening. This is why I recommended doing it this way. So you skin would not be red and irritated but you can be sure the retin a is working. You now slowly build up to being able to apply it nightly. For a week or two apply it every 3rd evening then every 2nd evening for a week or two and so on until you get to every evening. Listen to you skin along the way and if you are using it more often and start getting to red and are peeling or if it becomes so irritated it hurts have back off days.

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Cindy
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 9:18 am

Will do. My skin already feels and looks so much better.

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Susie
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 9:43 am

You are so very welcome, Cindy! I am so glad to hear that! You have all the right products, it’s just about learning to use them correctly. Continued success!

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Elnura
Thursday, July 25/2013 at 8:55 pm

Hello, I am 22 years old and have been using Retin-A .1% (but diluted a tiny bit with a drop of Hyaluronic acid serum) for about a month now. As my face has been adjusting i am going through the uglies (i.e. some peeling, slight acne flare-up, and some sensitivity) and hold off from this regimen every other 1-2 nights in a row. As i am seeing my large pores on my cheeks next to my nose shrink a bit, I was wondering if all of this sounds about normal and if you could recommend me a good all natural/organic SPF for my face that DOSENT go on looking like i just put white clown makeup all over my face. haha I used this SPF called Badger Broad Spectrum SPF on my face (since it’s all natural) but you could see every piece of dead flakey skin on my face radiated by thick white cream and i was quite a sight. please help, anything that goes on clear and blocks the sun.
thank you <3

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Susie
Friday, July 26/2013 at 4:15 pm

Actually that is a really good sunscreen and has excellent protection for your skin so I wouldn’t change that. Are you exfoliating? If not you should be doing that every 3 or 4 days and no mare then that. Exfoliating will help remove the dead cells off your face so your products work better.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:33 am

I like Lavanila sunscreen, it has good ingredients. SkinCeuticals has the best performing one I’ve tried (lightweight and not white) although it’s not natural. Also there is a brand called Colorescience which makes these purse-sized sunscreen powders with built-in brushes. They are all natural minerals and very convenient to put on over makeup.

If you’re using Retin-A for acne you probably want to read some of my comments above on getting to the root cause.

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Tamy
Sunday, August 4/2013 at 1:36 pm

Hi,

I just found your blog and I love it. I’ve been using Retin A on and off for few years but not diligently. About a month ago I started using obaji clear and blender with Retin A and now I am consistent with it because I read great things about it and I am already starting to see good results. ( I have bad melasma on forhead and cheeks). I use Retin A one night on and two nights off. My face is red and dry. I would like to use moisturizer but you are not supposed to while on obaji. I would really appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:38 am

Yeah I met Dr. Obagi once and he’s very anti-moisturizer. But isn’t his system just a retinoid combined with hyroquinone? If so, I don’t know why you couldn’t do a very light serum. I love this one: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/ Or there is a hyaluronic acid from SkinCeuticals that is nice too. Just wait 45 mins after you apply the active product so you don’t interfere with absorption.

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Cindy
Tuesday, August 6/2013 at 8:35 am

I was wondering what days you should exfoliate when you are up to using Retin A every night? I think in another week or so I will be using it every other night then every night. Or should you only work up to every other night with Retin A? It gets kind of confusing.

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Susie
Tuesday, August 6/2013 at 7:02 pm

Just keep exfoliating every 3 or 4 days. Whether it is a Retin A day or not. And yes you are working your way up to using it every night.

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Cindy
Wednesday, August 7/2013 at 3:54 pm

My skin is really doing quite well. If it wasn’t for the Emu Oil it would be very taught, dry, and flaky. I just use more if it is overly dry. Have had a little flakiness. But overall doing well. Thank you once again for the information. This has been so helpful. Cindy

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Susie
Wednesday, August 7/2013 at 4:24 pm

Remember if you feel your skin is too dry or flaky to just have a back of day or two.

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Kim O.
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 4:32 am

Im 54 yrs old and would like to know if some of the facial products on the market can enhance collagen production as much as Retina A? I have a derma roller, a microfacial massager and was thinking about purchasing a LED red light therapy product. In your opinion, which of the products on the market would produce more collagen formation? I used retina a in my mid twenties and it worked well for my acne problem. I don’t think I would like to begin using Retina A again because of the drying effects. I do use AHA And BHA skincare products now. I can have a problem with the underlying whitehead bumps at times especially if I use anything that clogs pores. I couldn’t use the emu oil as suggested. I cant even use products with glycerin as a base because of the whitehead problem. I do exfoliate regularly. Im mostly concerned with anti aging issues. I don’t have any wrinkles, but I do have some slight labionasal issues and thinning skin around my mouth area. What at home products or procedures do you recommend to keep the skin plump? I also don’t have any sagging around the jawline. I do take vitamin supplements such as a multivitamin, vitamin c, turmeric, fish oil capsules and calcium supplements. Any recommendations would be so appreciated…..

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Susie
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 1:03 pm

Hello Kim! You certainly are being very proactive and that is so important. Truthfully Retin A can’t be beat for collagen production. When used correctly you can have none to minimal dryness.
I really like micro needling when it is done properly. How long have you been doing it and how often? What size roller are you using? For the face .05 is perfect. Anything smaller is not effective at collagen production and anything larger is better for using on the body not the face.
If you are not wanting to give Retin A another try then may I suggest BiON Collagen Revival Serum. It’s specifically design to be used with micro roller but can also be used alone.
How often are you exfoliating? What are you using to exfoliate with?
Using a Vitamin C serum in the morning can help with collagen production as well as help protect you skin from the suns damaging rays.
That is puzzling about the emu and glycerin as they don’t clog pores. Do you still get breakouts?
I was going to suggest looking into radio frequency treatments done at a medical spa as that is a fabulous way to tighten the skin but I know with the machine I use at work I put glycerin on the face so I am able to keep the probes moving. At home gadgets many times can not go as deep as a real medical treatment so they are not as effective but may work better as a maintenance treatment you can do in between professional treatments.
There’s actually two supplements I would recommend you research. One is DIM. This remove be estrogen from your body and I believe may help with you whitehead problem. I think you would be able to use emu and glycerin then too. Also look into taking hyaluronic acid supplements. Hyaluronic acid is what gives us the plumpness to or skin and we loss it from or skin and joints as we age.

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Kim O.
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 10:54 pm

Thank you Susie! I will definitely look into the procedures, serums and supplements that you suggested. I certainly appreciate your expertise on this subject. I will look into the radio frequency procedure. Maybe, at a later date, if the DIM supplements help, I will be able to try the Retina A again. Then if I get dry, I can then use the emu oil as suggested. I do exfoliate at least once a week. I use a gentle buff puff. I’ve been thinking about purchasing the PMD everyone is excited about. I believe in taking vitamins, especially since I don’t eat properly. I have taken vitamins for years. That may be the reason I don’t look my age. Well, that’s what everyone tells me. Sometimes, when I photograph myself, I feel I can see aging in around my mouth and in those pesky folds! Also, I have a severe problem with the tear trough dark circles. I’m thinking about getting fillers under my eyes at a later date. I use eye creams with eyeliss and haloxyl. This helps slightly. Also I use hyaluronic eye cream. Aging is a bummer! But, I guess it’s something that we must all face someday. But, I think we should try to keep up our youthful appearance as long as possible. I would like to also tell all the young ladies on this site to make sure you use lipsticks, balms or glosses with peptides in them. This will help to prevent your lips becoming really thin as you age. I wish I could get it through the young girls heads here in the South to stop using those skin damaging tanning beds! The southern girls are notorious for using these tanning procedures! Anyway, thank you for your advice! I will certainly try your suggestions. You’re an angel for helping these ladies to take care of their skin properly and advising them on their issues!

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Susie
Thursday, August 15/2013 at 9:16 am

Your so very welcome, Kim! I have been in the esthetics field for over 10 years and enjoy helping people understand what products and procedures work for their skin.
Exfoliating every 3 or 4 days is just the right amount. I am not a fan of using anything scrubby on the face as scrubs and puffs can damage the skin or exasperate a problem. Such as acne or hyperpigmentation. I prefer exfoliators that are enzyme based. You put them on like a mask and basically let the enzymes it the dead cells off.
I too am a big supplement taker. I believe our food supply is void of many vitamins no matter how healthy your diet. This is simply because once fruit and veggies are pick in order to get the vitamins and minerals from them they should be eaten within a day or two. This is not the case when we purchase produce that was picked and shipped from chile or where ever.
Please rethink any fillers near the tear trough area. I know this is a trouble spot for many however that area is so thin that he fillers or really to thick for that area. It can leave that area lumpy. Also it is a dangerous procedure that can result in blindness. Sometimes just getting botox in your crowsfeet area will lift the area enough that it helps with the under eye area. There is a product called Dermal K that used to be prescription only but is now sold over the counter that will help with dark circles by helping rebuild the broken capillaries under the skin. Use the product for a minimum of 3 months before judging it. It really takes that long for products to work. No product works over night.
Aging is a bummer for sure but there are so many noninvasive ways you can slow it down and the earlier you start the better!
You can also micro needle your lips! Rodan and Fields makes a lip serum specifically for this! It’s important to use a lip product that has sunscreen in it too!
Oh Kim, tanning beds are the fastest way to age your skin and unfortunately it is popular here to in the midwest with young girls. Sadly my dermatologist is seeing younger and younger patients with skin cancer. His youngest is a 20 year old who used the tanning beds. 20 minutes in a tanning bed is equal to an entire day of damage to your skin of being out in the sun.
Kim, you are my favorite type of client! You understand the importance of taking care of your skin all the time! So many people think they can do one or two professional treatments and that’s all they have to do. I always tell them what I do in the treatment room effects their skin 30% the rest is on their shoulders with how they take care of their skin and what products they are using when they are not on my table.
Have a beautiful skin day, Kim!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:01 am

Most supplements are total garbage so I doubt it :) Do your research on what’s in them and you’ll find out they are full of fillers and other questionable ingredients that can trigger allergies or worse. Although, with a suppressed immune system from high PUFA consumption, you may not realize this until you change your diet. It is good to eat local ripe fruit but above-ground vegetables can be thyroid suppressive and contain chemical toxins. Root vegetables are the safest choice.

Dark circles are usually allergy related.

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:54 am

Again, DIM is unsafe. I recommend you research how its ingredients are goitrogens. To oppose estrogen progesterone is the safest and most effective choice. Emu is a PUFA and therefore very harmful. I don’t think hyaluronic acid is safe to take internally. Although HA is depleted from connective tissue during aging, its levels actually increase in the bloodstream where its action is pro-inflammatory.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 2:49 am

Red light is great. I love the Quasar and the LightStim. You can also buy bright incandescent lights (like heatlamp lights, but white) and sit under those. They help skin and reduce stress too.

Glycolic acid is an anti-aging alternative. Some doctors prefer it to retinoids as it’s less irritating.

Needling I’m not sure about as if you’re not careful you can introduce bacteria into the skin in the holes and open it up to irritation.

Don’t use emu oil, it’s toxic PUFA-laden crap. In fact, one of the best things you can do for anti-aging is to eliminate PUFAs from your diet. They are extremely aging. Check your temperature and pulse for low thyroid as that is aging too. If you have the symptoms of estrogen dominance, progesterone and a daily carrot can help oppose that, as can aspirin.

I don’t recommend any of those supplements you’re taking. Most contain harmful excipients and potential allergens. Vitamin C is highly contaminated with heavy metals. Drink OJ or eat oranges instead. Turmeric is cytotoxic. Fish oil is a PUFA. You can look up the article “The great fish oil experiment” by Ray Peat. Safe sources of calcium are milk, cheese and eggshell calcium supplements.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:17 am

I forgot to mention that a protein deficiency is very aging. Your skin needs high quality protein. Minimum 80 grams a day. Safe sources are milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, beef, gelatin. Gelatin especially is amazing for skin!

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Laura
Monday, September 16/2013 at 12:07 am

Its very rare to be protein deficient. We also do not need 80 grams of protein a day. Too much protein can cause issues with the kidney, such as kidney stones. I suggest you calculate based on your weight. An example of this is as follows. Also you can get your protein from a vegan diet as well. You keep mentioning estrogen in your posts and with emu oil, but be careful that meats and gelatin can be full of estrogen. Unless your getting farm raised, grass fed meats, and your eggs come straight from the chicken as opposed from a chicken factory.

A quick and easy way to calculate your protein needs is to do some simple math.
Step 1: Calculate Your Ideal Body Weight
For men, use this formula: 106 pounds for 60 inches of height (5 feet) and add 6 pounds for every inch over 60.
For women, use this formula: 100 pounds for 60 inches of height and add 5 pounds for every inch over 60. For example, I am 5′3″ or 63 inches tall, so my ideal body weight is 115 pounds (52 kilograms).
Step 2: Calculate Your Protein Requirements By Using Your Ideal Body Weight
Using the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, my daily protein goal should be 41.6 grams.
If you are very active or athletic, your protein needs may be higher.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:39 pm

Well, I disagree with you. I didn’t make up the 80 grams figure. You can look up some of Dr. Ray Peat’s articles.

“Even in rich cultures, protein deficiency, inappropriate exercise, and emotional tension will contribute to premature aging of the individual, and damage to the offspring.” – Ray Peat, PhD

“The same diet that protects against osteoporosis, i.e., plenty of protein and calcium, etc., also protects against kidney stones and other abnormal calcificatons.” – Ray Peat, PhD

Vegan sources of protein are inferior. In fact, beans have phytoestrogenic properties and are anti-thyroid. I’m sure you are familiar with the same research on soy.

Dairy, gelatin, shellfish, non fatty fish and occasional beef are safe protein sources. Chicken is high in PUFAs.

I’m not sure where you got your info about gelatin being estrogenic, but that’s not true. Glycine opposes estrogen and is pro-progesterone.

You’d probably enjoy reading Dr. Peat’s articles as he shoots down pretty much all of the current dogma on what is “healthy.”

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Nicole
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 6:10 am

Just about to start my Retin-a routine for the first time and I was wondering if it is possible to use retine-a on the neck area?

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Susie
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 12:29 pm

You can use it on your neck. A few times a week and slowly work up to nightly.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:01 am

Yes! But don’t forget to protect that area from the sun as well.

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Nicole
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 1:38 pm

I forgot to ask if you can also apply it to the chest area. Nicole

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Susie
Wednesday, August 14/2013 at 6:47 pm

You certainly can use it on your chest or any other area. I put it on my hands as well. Sometimes alone and sometimes I will mix it with a body cream since it I expensive.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:02 am

Yes – and if you do, it’s even more important to apply sun protection on the chest.

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tee
Friday, August 16/2013 at 11:30 am

Do you have a recommendation for Vitamin C serum and emu oil brands that is not too expensive. I would like to give these a try.

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Susie
Friday, August 16/2013 at 5:37 pm

I always recommend products I use and love myself! BiON’s Vitamin C+Calcium Complex is an awesome product. Make sure to use vitamin c in the morning not at night with retin a. My favorite emu oil is made by Emu Essence Naturals. A 2 oz. size is $20. It should last you about 6 months and that’s using it twice a day! You only need about a dime size amount for your face. Place it on your finger tips and press it all over your face then rub it in.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:06 am

Please don’t use emu oil. It is very high in PUFAs which you absorb 20% of from putting it on your skin. PUFAs I believe are the single biggest health problem. They suppress your metabolism and immune system and raise estrogen, among other serious issues.

For vitamin C I like SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/skinceuticals-phloretin-cf/

CE Ferulic is good too, but for drier skin. I think Vivier makes a nice vitamin C serum as well.

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Heather
Friday, August 16/2013 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for this very helpful article! I just started using Retin A (.025%) 2 weeks ago, and my dermatologist agreed with you that using the Clarisonic helps clean up the peeling skin. My question to you is this: I used to use a concealer that has salicylic acid in it to cover pimples. Retin A users aren’t supposed to be using salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide products any more, but I really need something that’ll cover up the burgeoning zits on my face. Any recommendations for concealers for Retin A users?

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Susie
Friday, August 16/2013 at 5:18 pm

I have found on of the best concealers for acne if a good powder mineral make up because it is so pigmented. Just dab a Q tip in it and place it right on the pimple.

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Heather
Friday, August 16/2013 at 5:39 pm

Very helpful! Thanks – I’ll look into getting a good powder mineral makeup for my concealing needs this weekend.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:10 am

I don’t think you’ll really need a salicylic concealer with the Retin-A – I’ve never found those to be very effective at treating acne or concealing anyway.

I think the very best concealers are from Make Up For Ever. Either this one: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/make-up-for-ever-hd-invisible-cover-concealer/ or this one: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/make-up-for-ever-full-cover-concealer/ I recommend applying them with a tiny lip brush for the most precision. You can set with powder but you don’t need to.

If you’re worried about pore clogging you could try a mineral powder concealer although I’ve never found those very good at concealing. The best I’ve tried is the concealer palette from Colorescience.

I also recommend you read my comments above about the root causes of acne, I think that should really help more than the Retin-A.

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karina
Friday, August 16/2013 at 10:52 pm

Hi !

I started with 0.05% and it worked well on my skin as I applied it every other day after waiting for abut 30-45 mins post washing. I am currently using 0.05% every day with pretty good results.

I am just wondering when would be the right time to move to 0.1%?

I am not really flaking, just some dryness around the lips.
My acne has calmed down but my closed comedones are still visible.

Please help.
Thanks!

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Susie
Saturday, August 17/2013 at 8:53 am

This is really a question that may be best discussed with your Dr. If your skin is responding well to your current strength you may never have to move up in strength. Some dr like you to use it for several months before going to the the next strength. Do you feel like your skin is not progressing with the .05?

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karina
Saturday, August 17/2013 at 12:53 pm

I’ve been using 0.05% for about a month now and it does not dry my skin out like what I’ve read. I’m using the cream version.

I don’t really know if it is working or not but my skin texture has improved somewhat but there is still a lot of closed comedones and bumps. Is it too soon to know whether it is working, hence I should be more patient? Or should I try out 0.1%?

Thanks!

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Susie
Saturday, August 17/2013 at 5:49 pm

If your skin texture is improving then that is how you know it is working. It takes 4-6 weeks for you skin to regenerate itself. It can take even longer if you are in your 30′s or older. I would give it 3 months. You do not have to have a lot of flaking in order for retin a to work. In fact I would be surprised if you did have a lot of flaking because you have acclimated your skin to using it by starting every other day and waiting to apply it after you cleanse your face. Make sure you apply it right before bed. Retin A is light sensitive. Light makes it less effective. This is true whether it is sun light or a light bulb. Are you exfoliating every 3 or 4 days? This will help with comedone removal.

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karina
Monday, August 19/2013 at 1:56 am

I’ve just bought myself a Clarisonic to exfoliate all the dead skin cells. I still have acne these few days and a lot of whiteheads that is just plugged under my skin. My regime is as follows:

Morning – Cetaphil to cleanse, Toner, Glycolic acid, SPF, BBCream
Night – Make-up remover, Cetaphil, Toner, Hyaluronic Acid, Retin A

I have sensitive skin, but somehow my skin has adapted to the glycolic acid and retinA. It doesn’t burn.

1. Should I use Clarisonic every day or every alternate day or about 2x a week?
2. How do I get rid of the whiteheads?
3. Does RetinA help with acne scars?

karina
Monday, August 26/2013 at 4:16 am

I’m searching on the web for a DIM supplement and found that Estroblock is the most popular. Which brand are you taking? Also, Estroblock has two versions – Regular and Triple Strength. Which one do you think I should start off with? Would love to hear your experience on DIM! :)

My skin texture seems to be improving although I am still getting some acne on Retin A. Also, is it normal to see all of the hard whiteheads coming up on the surface? The pore of the whiteheads are also opening up also to become blackheads. Is that normal?

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:15 am

If you have comedones and bumps, you need to treat the root cause as Retin-A is not a cure. I recommend you read some of my comments above about vitamin A deficiency, thyroid, estrogen, aspirin, bright light, etc. You can continue using Retin-A at the same time – it takes 6 weeks to see results and continues to improve over time, but it’s never going to fix what’s causing the acne in the first place.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:21 am

DIM and Estroblock are basically the same thing and are goitrogenic. For estrogen opposition, progesterone is a far safer choice. However, things to start with immediately are vitamin A in your diet (liver or a quality supplement), aspirin, bright lights and check for low thyroid. Acne can usually clear quite quickly by correcting the dietary deficiency.

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karina
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:34 am

Hi Michelle,

Thanks for your recommendations!
I suggest that you write a post on this :) It would be very helpful.

karina
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:36 am

Hi Michelle,

If I were to use the aspirin on my face, should I do it in the morning instead of at night with the Retin A?

Do I use it as a mask or just as an application (leave it on)?

Thanks

Donna Haney
Sunday, August 18/2013 at 3:30 am

I have used Retain A for 20 years and I use it 3 to 4 times a week and the first thing everyone who sees me say you have the most beautiful skin so stay with it and you’ll have beautiful skin all your life! And I don’t have thin skin at all ! It also removes all age spots from face hands and arms! I also use coconut oil on the night I don’t use Retina A

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Susie
Monday, August 19/2013 at 6:13 pm

Clarisonic is a nice gentle exfoliator that can be used a couple times a week. You need a deeper exfoliator that you would use every 3 or 4 days. My favorites are enzymes based ones. Like BiON’s Cucumber Scrub which is for oily skin. I use this on myself and clients. However I don’t use the scrub part of it. I cleanse the face then put a thin layer on and leave it on for about 10 minutes and let the enzymes eat the dead cells off.
When you say white heads can you help clarify. Do they extract easily or are they under the skin, never come to a head? The first type will slowly go away by using the correct products. The second type is called milla and is pus trying to come out of a place where you don’t have a pore. Generally a derm will lancet it and it is a hard seed that comes out. Kind of like a pearl.
Can you define what you mean by acne scars. Do you mean post inflammatory hyper pigmentation (skin discoloration from healing acne) or actually dents and divots in the skin?

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karina
Monday, August 19/2013 at 6:46 pm

I.have both types of whiteheads you mentioned but a lot more of the pearl kind that might be infected and become a cystic acne. they r really deep inside
the scars that i have are the hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration.

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Yary
Monday, August 19/2013 at 6:11 pm

Read this interesting website about the retinoids, so you can choose the brand suits better!

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/464026_3

Great Blog Michelle!!

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Susie
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 7:42 am

Cystic acne is so painful. Both physically and emotionally. Acne is always a sign there is an imbalance in the body and it is coming out through the skin. Look into a supplement called DIM. This supplement is made from veggies like brocolli, kale, brussel sprouts, and cabbage. It helps remove bad estrogen from out bodies. Research estrogen dominance to see if you have any of the symptoms but most people do and don’t realize it. We get bad estrogen through our environment. DIM will help with your acne.
Retin A is da bomb for acne and keeping wrinkles at bay but it is not my favorite for hyper pigmentation. A product with 4% hydroquinine in it is the best for this. Hydroquinine is a bleaching ingredient and will lighten the spots up for you. Products over the counter only contain 2% hydroquinine and are not effective. To get 4% hydroquinine you usually need a rx from your dr or search for Obagi Clear. It is sometimes sold online and contains 4%. You want to use this product all over your face. Not just on spots. This way you get a nice even complexion. I think Karina, once you start taking DIM and using this with your retin a you skin will be looking great!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:24 am

DIM contains cruciferous vegetable extracts which are proven goitrogens, and long term usage can suppress your thyroid. I would never recommend it. It’s pricey as well! If you want to correct estrogen dominance progesterone is where I would start (Progest-E). It does a heck of lot more and it’s much safer.

I wouldn’t use hydroquinone on active acne. The cream it’s in could break you out and it’s also more irritating. Wait until your acne has calmed down.

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karina
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 11:12 am

I will have a look at the DIM products but as for the hydroquinone, should I start using now or after my acne has settled down? Should I mix it with the glycolic acid serums that I am using?

How long should I use hydroquinone for?

Should I avoid anything?

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Susie
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 4:17 pm

If your acne is very active I would wait till it’s in the healing stage to use hydroquinine. I would not mix it with glycolic however what you can do is look for Obagi Blender. This product is has 4% hydroquinine and it is formulated to be mixed with retin a. You put equal amounts of both product on the palm of your hand and mix it together then apply it to your face. Retin A drives the hydroquinine even deeper into your skin. Getting at hyper pigmentation at a cellular level. Just be gentle with your skin and make sure you are always wearing a titanium dioxide sunscreen.

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Cheryl
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 12:49 pm

I have been taking DIM for nearly 4 weeks. I am taking natures way 3 pills a day, but am still getting hotflashes. Any advice on what to do? The hotflashes are waking me up several times a night. Should I take more DIM or perhaps Vitrex? I am post menopausal by 10 years and had been on the combo patch which got rid of the hotflashes but I feared it was causing my breakouts. My acne is clearing and I am only getting a few blemishes. I stopped the patch when I started the DIM.
Thanks so much,
Cheryl

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Susie
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 4:09 pm

How did your peel go? I think your body is probably reaction to you stopping the patch since you used it for a while. It may take a few months to get adjusted. You could keep taking the DIM and get back on the patch and then slowly wean yourself off of the patch while taking the DIM so your body can adjust. You can try taking 2 dim in the am and 2 in the pm. I can not comment on the Vitrex as I am not familiar with it. The thing with supplements is sometimes different amounts work for different people so it all trial and error. Hot flashes are just dreadful. I hope these suggestions help. I am so glad to hear your acne is clearing up for you, Cheryl!!

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Cheryl
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 6:06 pm

I think I will try your advice by taking 2 DIMs in the am and pm first. As far as the phenol peel, unfortunately, I am disappointed. Especially considering the cost and discomfort involved. My husband and I agree that the scars he curated actually look worse….deeper. Of course it has only been 2 weeks, but the overall skin redness is nearly gone and the ugly spots and wrinkles are back. He used PRP treatment to heal my skin quicker and I am wondering if I healed too quickly not allowing the deep healing to take place. My skin did not go through a very long sluffing off stage. Anyway, it was 4200.00 for only a partial peel that appears to not be working. I take full responsibility for my own actions and am not blaming the Dr. I fact, I truly believe he is the best around and will still go to him. On a more positive note, I am thrilled my acne is beginning to improve and want to thank you for recommending DIM.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:33 am

I think I’d be a lot more upset with the doctor than you are! $4,200 for it to look worse? I would be seeking compensation.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:30 am

I don’t recommend supplementing with any type of estrogen, it’s very dangerous.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:29 am

I can’t give you medical advice but my opinion is that your acne cleared because you stopped the patch not because of the DIM. (It’s unsafe anyway – and would have limited effect against the enormous amounts of estrogen you got from the HRT.) Vitex is better than DIM, but the very best thing to oppose estrogen is progesterone (Progest-E). Look up some of Ray Peat’s articles on estrogen and progesterone.

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Susie
Tuesday, August 20/2013 at 6:46 pm

Hmmm. What does your dr say about your results? Maybe it’s too soon to really tell. I am not familiar with the partial phenol he did on you. I do know when the do full phenol you have to be sedated and it is the deepest peel there is. Weeks of down time but amazing results. That is a lot of money to not be happy with the results. Perhaps he will fraxel your whole face. That helps with scarring and wrinkles. I think because of the patch you have a lot of bad estrogen that needs to come out of your body so that is why it is taking a while for those dang hot flashes to go away. I would take the DIM for 3 months and see how your hot flashes are after that. Till then will be saying a little prayer to mother nature for you to help ease up on your personal tropical vacation! ;)

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Cheryl
Wednesday, August 21/2013 at 2:27 am

My Dr says acne scars never really go away and tend to appear more pronounced as we age and our skin gets looser. I agree about the fraxel laser though and think that will be a better choice for me in the future. He says I have to wait 8 months. By partial phenol peel I meant that he did not do my full face. Just my cheeks and chin area. I also think you are right about the DIM and intend to continue taking it.

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Susie
Wednesday, August 21/2013 at 5:19 am

You are very welcome for everything, Cheryl. I think women should lift each other up. I think if you use Retin A and continue with doing treatments to your skin you will slowly see your skin responding. One of my clients who I have been treating for 9 years got cystic acne in her 40′s and it left her with bad scarring. I had her begin using retin a and we started doing micro current treatments. We have since moved on and now do radio frequency skin tightening treatments. This women never gave up. She never missed an appointment. RF is done weekly in the begin and then came be done every 3 months however she comes in every month for it. We were discussing how her skin has changed in that time. Her skin is not perfect but it is beautiful! Her scarring is less and man, is her skin tight. She has a peachs and cream complexion. She now has confidence to walk out of her house without make up. She has had complete strangers tell her how beautiful her skin is! I think you get there to. Just never give up. It is very important to be using the correct products all the time on your skin as well as do professional treatments. Perhaps your Dr can put a little filler like juvederm into some of the scars to smooth out your skin. It’s not permanent but we have clients that have it done and it looks wonderful. My point is, you have options. The esthetics field is ever evolving so you will always have choices. :D Have a beautiful skin day!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:40 am

So she’s dependent on regular spa appointments to control her acne? That doesn’t sound “cured” to me! That sounds like a very pricey and time consuming workaround. It’s unfortunate that so few people are educated on simple things like eating liver to correct a dietary vitamin A deficiency. Although I understand you are trying to make $$$.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:37 am

No, she’s wrong about the DIM.

You can look into pregnenolone for skin sagging. It’s safe and is supposed to give a “face lift” effect. Although I think the dosages vary so you’d have to experiment.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:35 am

DIM long term is only going to make things worse by suppressing her thyroid. Progesterone is safer and more effective.

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Cheryl
Wednesday, August 21/2013 at 2:20 pm

The RF sounds very interesting Susie. Unfortunately I live in AZ or I would come see you for sure. Could you please give me the name of the RF machine you use?

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Susie
Wednesday, August 21/2013 at 6:00 pm

You just never know, Cheryl. My fiance and I always talk of moving to AZ! We have the Venus Freeze at work. The way it works is the rf heats up the dermis and cause dermal destruction. You body guess into repair mode and produces collagen and elastin and the skin slowly tighten up. It leaves the epidermis untouched so there is no down time. You are just pink for a few minutes from the heat. The Venus Freeze is not painful. It actually feels like a warm massage on your skin. There are many different rf machines out there and some are zappy. Kind of feel like a rubber band snap. I have never worked on that type of machine so I don’t know how well they work. The best candidate for rf is someone who still has good skin tone. If your skin is hanging to much you will not see much of a difference. I am sure you will find someone in your are that offers this treatment.

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Cindy
Saturday, August 24/2013 at 1:01 am

I was just wondering how to keep the shine down on my face. I sometimes use Lubriderm moisturizer, but mostly use Emu Oil. I do use loose powder but it just looks shinny most of the time. Why does this happen. I have been using Retin A for about five weeks. Will it keep getting shinnier or somehow get better.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:43 am

If you put an oil on your face then it’s going to look more shiny. I don’t recommend emu oil anyway, it’s toxic because it’s high in PUFAs and you absorb 20% of it. Jojoba would be a better alternative. Why don’t you try a light serum in the daytime so you’re not as shiny, and then use something heavier like the jojoba at night? I really like this: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/

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Cindy
Saturday, August 24/2013 at 1:05 am

I forgot to mention I do use an oil free makeup (Mary Kay) I am 63 yrs old. My skin is not extremely dry. More so in the winter months. Thanks again Cindy

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karla cabiling
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 7:12 am

hello michelle! thanks for the info, it taught me a lot of things with regard to using tretinoin cream and i would like to believe that when you say Retin-A, that also refers to a tretinoin cream, right? Anyways, I am actually using a tretinoin cream for more than a week now and i noticed my skin getting flaky and all that, but the worst part is that i’m actually getting zits. It’s not that bad really, like i have 3 medium-sized zits now and some pimple scars caused by the zits that occured before but i kinda hate it when i get those stuffs on my face. This treatment was actually given by a dermatologist and i use it together with a ‘Glycokeen soap’ and a clarifying solution she suggested. is having a zit normal when you use a tretinoin cream and how long would this continue to happen? hope you could help.. thanks a lot :)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:46 am

Yes, tretinoin is the same thing. I would ease up on the frequency of it and maybe even lower the strength if you can. I don’t know about soap and the clarifying solution – it sounds like too much to me. Dermatologists are often totally oblivious to flakiness and how annoying that is. If it were me I’d just stick with the Retin-A at first and get my skin used to that.

If you’re using it to treat acne, I recommend checking out my comments above on the root causes as that’s going to be the best thing you can do (in tandem with the Retin-A but then you might not even need it at all).

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karla cabiling
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 7:15 am

hello michelle! thanks for the info, it taught me a lot of things with regard to using tretinoin cream and i would like to believe that when you say Retin-A, that also refers to a tretinoin cream, right? Anyways, I am actually using a tretinoin cream for more than a week now and i noticed my skin getting flaky and all that, but the worst part is that i’m actually getting zits. how long will it take until a tretinoin cream actually heal a zit? there multiplying and i hate it.. it’s getting bigger everyday :(

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Susie
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 11:17 am

Yes retin a and trentinoin are exactly the same thing. Retin a is just a brand name . Its active ingredient is trentinoin. You’re breaking out because of the over exfoliation and stimulation to you skin that happens with Retin A. In order to stop breaking out and get too flaky, you should start using retin a every 3rd evening and then slowly build up from there. This will get your skin acclimated to retin a and your skin will be so much happier! I hope this helps.

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Susie
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 9:01 am

By shine are you referring to oil? Was yout skin like this before using Retin A? Are you exfoliating and if yes. what are you using to exfoliate and how often are you exfoliating?

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Nicole
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 12:47 pm

Have been using retin-a for two weeks now and am not experiencing any dyness or redness so that is great! One question though, can i apply it on my roseae?

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Susie
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 4:48 pm

This is a tough question because Rosacea is so tough to treat. What works for one rosacea suffer may not for another. I have some rosacea clients that can tolerate micro dermabrasions and peels and other who cannot. Did you discuss this with your dermatologist?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:49 am

Personally I would not, but some say it can help. It’s a matter of self-experimentation – maybe you want to try a small patch and see.

By the way, rosacea is caused by low thyroid.

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Kelli Bone
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 9:55 pm

I disagree 100%. I have had rosacea for most of my life and have my thyroid checked regularly. It’s has never ever been low. I don’t think you should make such broad statements. Everyone is different and reacts different to products.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 10:41 pm

Kelli, actually I know a lot about thyroid as I have low thyroid myself and have done a ton of research. Blood tests are not an accurate way of diagnosing a thyroid condition – low body temperature and low pulse are much better indicators. You can have perfect bloodwork but still suffer from the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Unfortunately doctors treat you by TSH which is a major reason why so many people are sick these days or have problems like your rosacea. This is a good article that dispels a lot of the misconceptions about thyroid: http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/david-derry.htm
And you should find this article on the root causes of rosacea helpful: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/rosacea-inflammation-aging.shtml
Again, I really recommend you start measuring your temperature and pulse as chances are you can cure your rosacea with thyroid supplement or even going on a metabolism-boosting (thyroid-boosting) diet. Ray Peat has a lot of nutritional recommendations in his other articles.
Good luck!

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Kelli Bone
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 11:04 pm

Thank you for your response! I will look into this. I have just relied on annual blood tests. Thanks again!

Cindy
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 1:11 pm

No my face is not oily, I use emu oil for a moisturizer. I use Aveeno exfoliant scrub like a mask like you suggested and also exfoliate at least three times a week. It does not feel so oily just looks very shiny. I am not flaky or extremely dry. No redness either. I have followed all your instructions on how to use the Retin A. I also use a oil free makeup. Maybe I’m using way to much Emu Oil but my face always seems to be shiny but moisturized.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:50 am

Well, just try using less emu oil and see if it gets better. I don’t recommend it at all, by the way.

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Susie
Sunday, August 25/2013 at 4:56 pm

I think you misunderstood me about the scrub. I was refer to the BiON scrub that contain enzymes in them. Like pineapple and cucumber. They are enzymes and enzymes digest dead skin cells. Aveeno Scrub does not contain any enzymes in it so it will not work to exfoliate your face in that way.
More then likely the shine you are seeing is new skin (Yay!) and will eventually blend in.

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Jenny
Monday, August 26/2013 at 4:25 am

I am having a lot of trouble with my skin at the moment. I developed a rash on my face last year and things have spiralled out of control since then.

To cut a long story short, I have scarring from a rash on my chin, as well as pigmentation which I’ve tried to fade out with Retina-A.

I didn’t get any adverse side affects as I’ve used retina A before, but my skin which is normally quite unlined, is like leather. The skin is crepe like and my pores have all become enlarged. This seems to coincide with the use of Retina A this time around.

I am really upset about it. Do you know if this permanent? It’s been like this for 2 weeks. Is there anything I can do to normalise my skin? I use vitamin E cream as I don’t want to irritate my skin further.

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Susie
Monday, August 26/2013 at 7:55 am

Did your derm say what the rash was?
Are you still using RetinA?
What strength Retin A is it?
Do you exfoliate your face? If so what are you using and how often?
Please tell me what you are using on your face starting with the cleanser.

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jenny
Monday, August 26/2013 at 9:51 am

The dermo said perioral dermatitis, then eczema and then folliculitus. Dont thinks he is sure to be honest.

I use a anti bacterial garnier facial scrub morning and night.
I use vitamin e cream or oil.
I have stoppednusing the retina about 2 weeks ago when i noticed my skin getting damaged.
I also have was prescribed hydroqionone lastnyear for pigmentation which i seem to have formed an allergy to.
I am desperate to get my skin sorted out. Everything seems to make it worse.

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Susie
Monday, August 26/2013 at 2:34 pm

The anti bacterial soap might be stripping your skin off it’s acid mantel. This is the natural moisture you skin produces which is essential to lubricate your skin and protect it from bacteria. Also you only need to exfoliate every 3-4 days. Just once a day. Over exfoliating will dry out your skin making it feel as you describe. Please look into finding a creme based exfoliator. Scrub on the face are just to harsh. Scrub are ok for your body but your face is more delicate. Scrubs cause micro tears in the skin and will thin the skin and age it faster. When there is micro tears all the time like that your body tries to repair itself as fast as it can and this can cause hyper pigmentation. Two exfoliators that I use on myself and clients are Bio Elements Kerafole and BiON’s Fruit Enzyme Scrub. I realize that I just told you not to use a scrub but I don’t use the scrub part of it. The Fruit Enzyme Scrub contains pineapple which is an enzyme. I apply a thin layer to the face and leave it on for 10 minutes. The enzymes eat the dead cells off. They do all the work! I think if you make these adjustments to your routine your skin will get back to normal and then you can start using the hydroquinine to even out your skin tone.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:58 am

If she already had a reaction to the hydroquinone, I don’t recommend starting it up again.

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:57 am

I agree to stop the retinoid. Your cleanser/scrub sounds a bit harsh. I would try something more gentle, and if you must exfoliate try an aspirin mask.

Skin conditions are often (low) thyroid related. Have you checked your pulse and temperature? I also recommend you get vitamin A in your diet (liver or Nutrisorb-A supplement), oysters (for the zinc), at least 80 grams of protein per day and try to eat lots of gelatin. All very skin healing.

Topically Vitamin E is good but probably the pure oil is best. You could apply Progest-E topically, which is progesterone in pure vitamin E oil. The progesterone is also very effective at healing skin.

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Susie
Monday, August 26/2013 at 7:40 am

I am not familiar with Estroblock. I take Nature’s Way DIM. Before I started using DIM I was getting breakouts for about a year. It was regular and cystic acne. I was trying everything at my finger tips and nothing was working. I have been using Retin A for 20 years. However when there is an imbalance in the body it comes out on your skin as acne, rashes, eczema. So there I am trying to figure out how to get rid of acne when I start getting hot flashes. I would get a few throughout the day but at night they would come every hour! Covers off covers on covers off covers on…..all night long! I wasn’t getting any sleep. At first I took Estroven. It is just on over the counter supplement that many women say help with their hot flashes. I used it for 3 months and the hot flashes remained exactly the same so back to researching on my computer. That is when I happened upon DIM read so many amazing reviews and I was so miserable. Hot flashes and acne…ugh. I ordered a bottle not expecting much but within the first week or so the hot flashes started to diminish. I really thought it was in my head at first so I tried not to get excited about it. But in a very short time my hot flashes stopped and my face clear up. Yay!! Sine then I try and share DIM use the importance of DIM to as many people as I can!
Yes it is normal for the hard whiteheads coming to the surface. Remember they were under the skin and retin a is sloughing of layers of skin to reveal new skin. A whitehead is under the skin therefore it stays white. When it open there is now a microscopic open and the air oxidizes it, turning it black. BiON makes a Blackhead/Whitehead Controller serum. You just apply it to the areas needed.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:02 am

You’re suppressing your thyroid by taking DIM, and you’re not removing the estrogens as well as you could with progesterone (which is safer anyway). DIM contains extracts of cruciferous vegetables which are proven goitrogens.

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jenny
Monday, August 26/2013 at 10:01 am

Ps i used stieva 0.05%

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karla cabiling
Monday, August 26/2013 at 8:50 pm

when do i start seeing results? will my skin get any better? iam thinking of switching to another product if this tretinoin cream will not make my skin any better within a month, it stresses me a lot seeing my face in the mirror nowadays,even if i only have a couple of zits, still, i am not use to having this appearance plus the scars form the old zits are still there and are not getting any better. should i try to use a scar remover? i really want my old skin back :(

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:05 am

It can take 6 weeks to start seeing results from the Retin-A, and even 6 months to really get into the swing of things. However, I recommend following my earlier suggestions to help resolve the acne – Retin-A is never going to cure it. Luckily, there are a lot of easy, cheap and effective things you can do right away, which I mentioned above.

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karla cabiling
Monday, August 26/2013 at 10:09 pm

i would just like to know if it’s really true that the use of tretinoin cream can cause headaches, dizziness or nausea.. i’ve read it in some blogs and articles and i am not sure if this tretinoin cream causes the random headaches i’ve been experiencing lately. i usually don’t experience this before that’s why iam really curious now.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:09 am

I don’t know about those things, but I do know it is linked to bone disease.

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Susie
Tuesday, August 27/2013 at 5:26 am

Ok Karla, the first thing I want you to do is take a deep breath and relax. The internet is a wonderful place to learn about things . However the internet is full of misinformation. Those side effects you are reading about are extremely rare but drug companies are obligated by law to put all that in there pamphlets. That’s great for us so we can be informed consumer. It is also bad for us because it makes some people panic. Everything you put in and on your body passes through your liver. From the chemicals in the food we eat to your favorite moisturizer. All these things have chemicals that go into your body and can cause side effects. Your liver is a big filter for your body. Getting rid of toxins we are exposed to. If your liver is not working properly then you are getting a build up of toxins and it can cause those symptoms. I have been using trentinoin for 20 years and have no side effects. I eat healthy, take supplements, and do herbal detoxes to removes any toxins I may be exposed too. We have toxic build up from pollution as well. Unless your liver was in bad shape before you started trentinoin then I don’t believe that is the cause of your headaches. However the stress you are feeling because you are not happy about your skin will cause headaches.

You really need to give trentinoin a chance to work and it will take much longer then one month. You have to have patients and let you skin repair and renew. This means not being too harsh on it. Can you tell me everything you use on your skin, starting with your cleanser? Are you exfoliating? If so how often and what are you using? Also please research a supplement called DIM. This supplement removes bad estrogen from our bodies. The way we get bad estrogen in our bodies is from the hormones in our food as well as the chemicals plastic water bottles give off. Acne is a sign there is an imbalance in the body so one of the best ways to help that is with this supplement along with trentinoin. By scars are you referring to the left over post inflammatory hyper pigmentation from acne or pitted scarring?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:14 am

Please research what’s in DIM. Again and again, I have to respond that it may help remove estrogen in the short term but not as much as progesterone would – and it’s also toxic in the long term because it’s a goitrogen. Goitrogens suppress the thyroid.

Actually, the Retin-A could be a valid concern for headaches. They can be caused by any supplement we’re sensitive to (allergens or excipients). Stop it for a few days and see if it gets better, then you will know.

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Jenny
Wednesday, August 28/2013 at 12:41 am

I suffer from Hashimotos which can cause severe drying of the skin. I now think this is what I am suffering rather then a result of the Retina A.

I have been keeping my eye on your posts, and have got myself some emu oil – do you think this will help severe dryness to the facial skin?

I live in Australia so this product is very accessible.

Thanks again from a wonder blog.

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Susie
Wednesday, August 28/2013 at 7:08 pm

That is a very important thing to know about having Hashimotos and explains why you have been so dry. I would suspect that until it is more under control than your skin will calm down. Emu is fabulous and please try it but the disease is systemic so it may not work to it’s full potential. If you haven’t tried this already, I would research changing your diet to gluten free as well as supplement that may help with this disorder.
Isn’t this blog great?!!! However I didn’t write it. I just happened upon it and saw people asking questions. Being that esthetics is my field I just answered a couple of questions.

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Hannah
Friday, November 22/2013 at 9:54 am

Seriously?? You’ve answered a few questions ?? I just ran onto this blog and have been reading through comments and you’ve basically taken over! You may be adding some good info but this is not your blog! Its obnoxious. Start your own blog. Michelle is far more tolerant than I would be.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:19 am

Ugh, I love Australia but emu oil is the worst. It’s very high in PUFAs which suppress your immune system and thyroid and increase toxic estrogen, among many other problems. Since you absorb 20% of what you put on your skin it’s definitely a cause for concern. I would never use it.

Your dry skin is a symptom of your low thyroid, so everything is going to be sub-optimal until you resolve that. I recommend reading Ray Peat’s articles on thyroid. You need proper supplementation and a metabolism-promoting diet.

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Gill
Friday, August 30/2013 at 9:04 am

Hello, do you know if I can use Retin A on the area just below my eye brows? The skin is beginning to go crepey but I am worried about damaging my eyes. Also do you know if Retin A would help delay the onset of a sagging jawline?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:23 am

I don’t think I would put it there. However, I talked to a dermatologist and it’s fine to use it underneath your eyes. Just watch for signs of irritation and cut back if it gets too dry.

Yes Retin-A could help somewhat delay sagging but I think it can only do so much once it’s there. You could investigate pregnenolone which is a safe supplement that is reputed to give a “face-lift” effect.

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Holly
Friday, August 30/2013 at 9:23 pm

Thank you so much for this article. I’ve had the hardest time getting consistent information about applying retinol along with other products, like a moisturizer, while not diminishing the retinol’s power and its ability to get to the deepest layer of my skin possible without diluting or halting the absorption.

I use .05% Skinceuticals Retinol every night & love it. I wait at least 20 minutes or more before applying a moisturizer. I’ve recently added Obagi Clear (4% hydroquinone) to my nightly routine and been told three different ways to apply it from estheticians: either right before the retinol, right after, or wait and treat it like a moisturizer. I’m so confused. I don’t want to compromise the retinol. How do you think I need to use the Obaji Clear along with the retinol?? Thank you much!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:27 am

If you really don’t want to compromise the retinoid then use the hydroquinone in the morning. Otherwise, I think it’s best to follow the directions I mentioned in the article which would be to do the retinoid first on bare skin, then wait 45 mins and then apply it on top.

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crystal
Sunday, September 1/2013 at 11:09 am

I just recieved my retin-a tube yesterday, i got excited thinking “the stronger the better” so i did get the strongest percentage 0.1. I am 41 yrs old, and am just trying “preventative maintenance” for my face, because i really don’t have any wrinkles yet, but i used it last night, and woke up this morning with no dryness or flakiness. Im wondering should’nt i see some kind of difference in my face? Or does it take a few uses to see any kind of results?
Also, i was going to order a firming serum with DMAE,Alpha Lipoic and
C-Ester because i have read that this is good for sagging/firming skin to use on nights i dont use the retin-a . Im wondering is the retin-a also good for firming, or is it only for wrinkles/acne? And do you think useing this serum on nights without the retin-a would be too much?
Thank you

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:30 am

It can take 6 weeks to see results and then several months to get the full effect going. Retin-A is the best topical for wrinkles, skin tone and firming because it stimulates collagen production and skin cell turnover. As you know, there is not much you can do topically for sagging but Retin-A would be the best thing available.

As for whether you can use that serum with it, you would need to experiment to see if it irritated you. I wouldn’t use the vitamin C at the same time as the retinoid.

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crystal
Sunday, September 1/2013 at 11:14 am

I know i said no dryness, but I did feel some tightening in my face this morning, used some moisturizer and it was fine, but no flakiness,
again, Thank you

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Cheryl
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:02 am

Dear Michelle,
Do you recommend I stop taking the DIM as Susie suggested? She recommended I take 2 in the morning and 2 at night since my hot flashes were not getting better. After 2 weeks my hot flashes became intolerable and my acne is returning. In the beginning the DIM did seem to be helping my breakouts though. I just reduced the DIM back to only 2 a day and seem to be improving a little. You suggest increasing vitamin A for acne but I already eat at least 2 carrots and or sweet potatoes a day. Along with using retin A and a multivitamin I am worried about getting too much vit A but am willing to try anything to stop my acne.
I am also confused about this blog. When I started using it Susie was the only one answering questions so I assumed she was working with you. Now I see you are discouraging her suggestions. I have already purchased and am using her product suggestions. But after reading your Sept 3rd comments I am very confused and worried I am doing myself more harm than good. Would you be so kind as to clear this up for all your readers and blog followers?

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karina
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:52 am

Cheryl I had the same assumptions that Susie was working with/for Michelle. I think both suggestions are good (albeit one is cheaper) but that would mean that I personally have to do more research and make my own decisions. That being said, I would love to hear Michelle’s opinion on what we should do, especially…I have also ordered DIM (international shipping) and hydroquinone …

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:48 am

No, Susie has no relationship to this blog whatsoever.

I’m not clear on what you’re asking for my opinion on? I’ve stated what I think about DIM and some alternatives. Hydroquinone (4%) is ok for 3-6 months max but not on active acne and it can make your skin more flaky and sensitive. It works ok but not great.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:42 am

I can’t give you medical advice but I think I made it very clear what I think of DIM :)

Carrots alone aren’t going to get rid of your acne but a daily carrot salad (1-2 carrots shredded and rinsed under cold water) with vinegar, salt and either a dash of olive oil or refined coconut oil, gets rid of endotoxins in your intestines and improves the ratio of progesterone/estrogen/cortisol. It is a good thing to do no matter what.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene and can block thyroid function. That’s the reason it’s good to rinse the carrots.

Neither are the best source of vitamin A – not enough to improve acne. For that a serving of liver once a week is the best, or failing that I like the supplement Nutrisorb-A.

But, probably nothing will change until you correct your estrogen dominance. I suggest you also check your thyroid.

To clarify, Susie has zero relationship to this blog. This is an older article and I do not typically moderate comments on old posts due to the busy schedule of new material being published. I recently became aware that Susie had basically taken over the comments section of this article as a means of self-promotion and it got out of hand. I’m jumping in on the suggestions that I disagree with and feel would be harmful to my readers. I hope that clarifies.

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Cheryl
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 5:56 pm

Hi Michelle,
I understand now what happened with Susie.
I just need advice from a competent person because my doctor will not discuss hormones with me and I feel that is my problem and agree with you that my thyroid may be off balance. I just found another dr but have to wait 1.5 months to get in. I need advice between now and then PLEASE!
My symptoms are: panic attaches (which seem to be mostly under control with cymbalta although I think it is causing other problems and know it is bad for my liver) hotflashes and night sweats, insomnia,irritability,foggy thinking, word finding problems and anxiety and acne. I am 54 and post menopause, or so I thought. I have not slept more than 3 to 4 hours a night in weeks. I tried ambien,Valium, Xanax and flexoril but feel I got
I stopped my combi patch and started DIM 5 weeks ago. You are probably right that my acne improved from stopping the combi patch.
Here is my plan to try to feel better till I can get tot the dr. I will eat the carrot salad you suggested daily ( already had one and it was delicious). I will eat liver at least one time per week. ( Does it matter if it is beef or chicken?) And I just ordered Dr Peats Progest-E Complex. Can you recommend an oral dosage to start with? His dose age recommendations seem rather vague. He says 3-4 drops a day that can be reaped tend through out the day (I don’t want to over do it).
OK , that’s the plan I’ve come up with for myself with the information you so kindly provided. Please reply with advise . Thanks for your help.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 9:45 pm

Panic attacks are a symptom of high adrenaline, which can be present when your body is trying to compensate for low thyroid. Aspirin, coffee, fruit and milk decrease adrenaline. Of course, you would want to correct your low thyroid via diet and/or supplementation. Slow pulse and low body temperature are good indicators of low thyroid. From your symptoms it sounds like this is just as big a problem as your estrogen dominance. Your doctor can advise you on a thyroid supplement although most under-treat thyroid patients and prescribe T4-only medications which women in particular have a hard time converting to T3. I prefer natural dessicated thyroid (NDT). Alternatively there is a synthetic called Cynoplus that you can order without a prescription from Mexico, if you are desperate. I haven’t tried it but apparently it’s safe.

I don’t think it matters what type of liver. There are Progest-E dosing instructions here: http://www.longnaturalhealth.com/sites/default/files/ProgestEInstructions.pdf. I wouldn’t worry about taking too much, the only consequence is that it could make you a little sleepy.

Again, I’m unable to give you medical advice as I’m not qualified to do that, but I would encourage you to look up Dr. Ray Peat’s website and read all of his articles on estrogen, progesterone and thyroid. I’ve spent a lot of time researching health/nutrition/hormones and he is the most trustworthy, knowledgeable and accurate source by far. I’ve learned that doctors unfortunately can be pretty good at keeping people sick :(

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saida
Sunday, March 9/2014 at 12:18 am

hellow ……. my age is 21. as am using tretinoin 0.25 for my internal use due to hyper pigmentation on my bikini lines…. and i got red scars its very paining… say any one remidy how to use and how to reduce my blackness.

Jenny
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 3:39 am

Do you know much about Hyaloronic Acid? I read another blog which says that HA supplements may really help with sever dryness.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:52 am

It’s ok topically but I wouldn’t take it internally. To repeat a comment I made above: Although HA is depleted from connective tissue during aging, its levels actually increase in the bloodstream where its action is pro-inflammatory.

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Tia
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 4:13 am

Hi, I am bit confuse about emu oil.

Susie recommend emu oil and Michelle is saying toxic PUFA?
Also is it true that emu oil cause facial hair growth?

I normally put tretinoin 0.05% after emu oil at every other night. but no redness or peeling or anything. I have been using it for few months but I don’t see much improvement on my skin.
I exfoliate 2-3 times a week too.

If emu oil is toxic then please let me know what else can I put before applying tretinoin?

I have tried waiting 20 mins after wash face then apply tretinoin and I felt my skin get too dry and tight feeling while waiting 20 mins (especially around mouth and eyes area)and also nothing after tretinoin. so I feel I need to put some moisturizer. Hyaluorinc aicd any good before or after tretinoin cream?

Also I would like to know why am I not getting any result of tretinoin….
I am 33years old.

Thanks!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 5:01 am

Sorry for the confusion. The commenter Susie is not affiliated in any way with this website, she is someone who wanted to promote herself and her website by answering questions in my comment section.

A natural alternative to emu would be jojoba. Or you can use hyaluronic acid serum or this: http://beautyeditor.ca/product/consonant-hydrextreme-extreme-hydration-booster/

If you’re putting the oil on first then it’s blocking the Retin-A absorption, so no wonder you’re not getting results. You need to put Retin-A on bare skin. Yes it can feel tight and dry while you wait, but your skin gets much more tolerant with time. After you do the Retin-A wait again and then apply your moisturizer. I’ve found as my skin gets used to it I can cut down the waiting times.

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jenny
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 8:36 am

This site has become contrary. You are giving conflicting info. Im out

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, September 3/2013 at 9:27 am

Sorry for the confusion. There’s no conflicting information here. I think the commenter Susie gave you the impression that she worked here, because she took over answering questions. I have no idea who she is other than someone who wants to promote her own business via my website. I’m jumping in now because I disagree with some of her “advice” and wouldn’t want to cause my readers any harm. I hope that clarifies. As it’s an older post I wasn’t keeping an eye on it until I realized what was happening.

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ashley
Thursday, September 5/2013 at 2:01 pm

I just started using retin-a micro 0.04%. I have used it for the past 3 nights and have had no redness, peeling, purging, etc. I would not say that my skin is sensitive, and I do not have acne. Simply using it for the anti aging benefits. I use the retin-a micro at night, and then use the obagi CRX serum with 10% Vit C and 4% Hydraquinone in the morning with Cereve AM moisturizer. At what point do I need to call my derm to up dosage of Retin-a? Is it important to go through the peeling, purging stage?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:24 pm

You need to give it at least 6 weeks to start seeing a difference and it can take up to 6 months to really start to get the full effect. I don’t know if there is any rule about when to move up, but I would say at least wait until then. Note that you don’t have to move up – more is not necessarily better. If you are satisfied with the results you’re getting at the 6 month point then I see no reason to increase as it may only give you more irritation.

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Andee
Friday, September 6/2013 at 1:19 pm

Hi! I am using Skinceutical 0.05 Retinol cream at night for hyperpigmentation. I started using once a week then twice a week when my skin (where the discolorations are) turns red and itchy and eventually got dark. Now my problem is it is now more noticeable because it is dark brown, bluish discoloration on my forehead. I think I may have over applied the product and my toner with salicylic acid (I didn’t use it the same time) also affects my skin. What to do? I already stopped using my toner and continued to apply retinol every 4 days. Should I stop or continue? I can see the flaking already, I am hoping that the peeling I am noticing now will get rid of the discoloration.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:21 pm

I’ve never heard of Retin-A making discolourations bluish. This is something you may need to check with your prescribing dermatologist. Is it possible the pigmentation looks darker only because the surrounding skin lightened up? Or it make look darker because the uppermost layer of skin has peeled off, showing more of the pigment underneath.

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Tiffany
Tuesday, March 4/2014 at 4:14 pm

Andee, did the spots flake off once it became darker? I too used Skinceuticals retinol .5 and i experienced burning, flaking and spots became really dark and I am getting spots where I didn’t have before. Spots got so dark that I stopped using it.

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Elnura
Friday, September 6/2013 at 1:42 pm

so i am in love with this lady’s skincare line, “living libations” that’s all natural/organic and i have been discussing with her my skin care regimen, which includes retin-a. she is telling me that retin-a is toxic and bad for your skin? i am confused. i use the strongest strength but dilute it with a pea size amount of 100% vitamin-e and use it only 2-3x’s per week. how could it be toxic for your skin though? i’ve also got it down to the point where my skin isn’t peeling anymore. but she told me to seek more advice, and i feel this is my best source. My derm is all for it too.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:16 pm

This is a good question and I’m really not sure. Probably short-term use is ok, but I recently read some things about it being linked to bone disease, so I don’t know. It’s definitely on my radar for a future article, but I need to do some more research.

Safer alternatives you could try are retinol or retinaldehyde. Triacneal from Avene is a good option for the latter.

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Lon
Wednesday, September 11/2013 at 11:33 am

So happy I found this really helpful article, thanks Michelle! I want to start using Retin-A 0.025 as soon as I have found out which skincare I can best use with it. The amount of information is so overwhelming; it almost feels like I’m doing my graduate thesis all over agin :-) I have pale and sensitive skin. I previously used Trilogy RoseHip, and Dermatology (PreCleanse, Ultracalming cleanser, Hydramist, Skin Smoothing creme), but having doubts about that b/c the ingredients. Can you give me a recommendation about moisturizer and serum that you think goes well with Retin-A? Do you have experience with Prevage MD/Idebenone as a good anti-oxidant? (since the Skinceuticals serum seems so unstable)? Love from Amsterdam and keep up the good work!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:10 pm

Oh I hope this thread hasn’t confused you! I don’t think it’s too complicated – any bland moisturizer will do and the weight just depends on how much you need. Rosehip oil does has some vitamin A in it – it makes some people break out and in my experience can go rancid so I would be cautious with that one. (It’s also a PUFA and I’m pretty strict about avoiding straight PUFA oils on my skin topically.) Dermalogica stuff should be fine. You just don’t want something with actives like glycolic that will interact with the retinoid.

Which SkinCeuticals serum do you mean? They are not unstable – that’s why they’re packaged in the dark bottles. I think they’re the best on the market. I haven’t tried Prevage myself but my mom does like it. I prefer SkinCeuticals serums as they’re much lighter and more liquid.

Hope that helps!

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mendi
Thursday, September 19/2013 at 11:35 pm

I work in a plastic surgery clinic in west Texas. We use lasers and facial products regularly, as our climate is extremely dry and windy. I have observed results for 7 years and lasers do make your skin thin over time with repetitive treatments. From perforating lasers that supposedly stimulate collagen (without naming a brand) to micro laser peels, they all thin the skin. I also feel the actual heat from laser treatments compromises our facial fat, which is needed to plump the face. Veins and broken capillaries will become more prominent as well.
In my opinion using a retina A or tretinoin product, using sunscreen, avoiding direct sun, and avoiding smoking, are the absolute best things we can do for optimal results. Genetics plays the biggest part in your skin tone and texture but we can slow the process.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, September 22/2013 at 2:05 pm

You mean Fraxel? Yes, I’ve heard mixed reviews, which is worrisome… price is also crazy high. That’s interesting (and scary) about the facial fat!

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Nicole
Wednesday, October 16/2013 at 6:27 am

Dear Susie,

Have been using retin-a for a couple of months now and love the product except for the flakiness! Have you had any experience with Avibon? Seems to have the same anti aging effects as retin-a but without the dry spots and flakiness.

With kind regards,
Nicole

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Nicole
Wednesday, October 16/2013 at 10:52 am

Dear Michelle,

Have been using retin-a for a couple of months now thanks to your posts, love the product except for the flakiness. Have you any experience with Avibon? Its supposed to have the same anti aging effect but without the flakiness. Looking forward to your reply.
With kind reagrds,
Nic

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:33 pm

Hi Nicole, I haven’t tried Avibon but I know people (including Gwyneth Paltrow!) rave about it – it would be milder than prescription Retin-A.

Another great product is Avene TriAcneal, which contains retinaldehyde. I’ve been using that now that it’s winter and I find it doesn’t make me flaky like the Retin-A.

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Anthony
Thursday, October 17/2013 at 4:38 pm

Alright , so I’m wondering what should I do at night before I apply the retin a as in face washing? I been using a face wash with salylcic acid and that seems like its the problem here. I’ve been on this medication for about 8 weeks. I see improvement but I’m still starting to see acne, I think its because of the face wash.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:31 pm

How is your skin going Anthony? I wouldn’t use the salicylic acid at the same time as the Retin-A… you could try it in the mornings or just switch to a more basic, bland cleanser.

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Anthony G.
Monday, October 21/2013 at 3:08 pm

Michelle,

This comment is a very big compliment. That Susie chick was a wacko who hijacked your spot on discussion. You maintained your cool throughout despite her repetitive unsafe recommendations and disrespect. I am a health care professional who specializes in derm and think you are great. Please stay away Susie !!!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:29 pm

Haha thank you Anthony! Susie is still welcome to comment here, I just can’t have this blog be used as a promotional tool for her business and don’t want to confuse readers about who works for this site (since we have some conflicting views on skincare).

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Joanna H.
Friday, October 25/2013 at 11:32 am

Late to the conversation here, but wanted to share my experience with you. I am 32 years old, and have been off/on Retin A since high school. Problem was keeping consistent with applying every day. My skin has always been pretty clear, but once I hit 30, it started to mutate into the skin of a teenager!!

A year ago was when I went to the dermatologist again and requested the Retin-A micro .04%; although I had been an irregular user in the past, I do remember it clearing up some messes I had on my T-zone. I was given Retin-A to use at night, and Aczone for the mornings.

Instead of following my doctor’s instructions, I decided to use Retin-A micro in the mornings. I felt that it was easier to incorporate into my morning routine. I didn’t read the insert, nor ever come across in all my years of usage at that point, the part about it not working if you use it in the daytime.

I thought it was working, because I did go through an IB around week 2, and my skin was getting dry and sensitive at times. It just didn’t clear up as much as I wanted it to. (because I didn’t realize I was negating the Retin-A by applying in the daytime).

So fast forward a year, and literally one week ago, I go to my dermatologist for my annual skin exam, and tell her I’d like to upgrade to the .1%, since the .04% didn’t quite finish the job. My skin isn’t terrible, but there is definitely room for improvement. She complied, and also added an Rx for Spironolactone for the hormonal acne.

Now I literally find out I’m the reason the .04% didn’t work! I think I’ll still give the .1% a try (at night only) and see if I can tolerate it. I put the tube on my nightstand table so it will be the LAST thing I do before I go to bed now, LOL! If it is too strong, I’ll just ask the Dr to go back to .04, and explain what went wrong…

I found out about the Retin-A daytime issue on another site when I was looking for Vitamin C serum. So now I’ll be applying the Vitamin C in the morning, along with my Aczone and moisturizer, and Retin-A micro at night.

Quick comment- I believe I read somewhere that with the Retin A micro gel, it’s not necessary to wait for the skin to dry, but to wait when using the gel or the cream…or maybe I’m remembering wrong.

Questions:

I was going to leave Retin A on at night on bare skin and just use moisturizer during the day. Have you heard of that, or do you recommend waiting 30-45 minutes then applying moisturizer.

If you wait 30-45 minutes, am I going to have to worry about the lamplight breaking down the Retin-A on my face?? (now I’m paranoid about the light)

When applying the Vitamin C serum + moisturizer, would you recommend applying the Aczone first or afterward? I’m wondering if I put on the Aczone first, would it affect the Vitamin C’s absorption or composition.

I’ll bookmark this page and write myself a reminder in Outlook to report back after I’ve followed the directions properly!!! Sorry for the long post, but wanted to share my experience.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:26 pm

Hi Joanna, I hope the evening Retin-A is working for you now!

If your skin can tolerate it, you don’t have to use moisturizer on top of the Retin-A at night. It really just depends on how dry it gets and what feels best to you.

Excellent question about the light! It wouldn’t be as bad as going outside in UV light, but yes indoor lighting could somewhat inactivate it. It’s a good idea to apply the Retin-A before bed (and if you’re putting the moisturizer on top wait out the 30 mins in fairly low lighting).

Your Aczone should probably be applied to a bare face, since it’s the most active ingredient that you want to reach your skin, and then serum and moisturizer on top. Otherwise the order is usually lightest products to heaviest. So gels/serums then oilier creams last.

Hope that helps! Great questions and sorry for the delayed response, this is an older post so I don’t check the comments on as often as the new ones. Thanks for reading!

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Joanna H.
Tuesday, December 17/2013 at 10:18 am

Michelle,

Thanks for responding- I noticed you check every couple of months, as in when your article was hijacked and you found out about it in August! That was crazy, I guess Susie finally dropped away, good ridance!

I’ve been bad and inconsistent with Retin A last 2 weeks, mostly the season. But I’m going to be more disciplined and start again tonight. My face tolerates the 1.0 well, but not so much my neck. I may opt to use the .04 on neck area, or use with moisturizer until it accepts it.

Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!

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Joanna H.
Tuesday, December 17/2013 at 10:23 am

PS

Did you mention to another poster that Spirolactone was bad to incorporate? My derm prescribed me 25mg to be taken twice daily for hormonal acne. I do think my jawline has improved, but could’ve been any number of factors, too many variables to isolate 1!

Thanks again,

Joanna

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Joanna H.
Tuesday, December 17/2013 at 10:31 am

Never mind: I scrolled all the way up and found your answer. I will start eating my liver once a week ASAP! I do have low thyroid, but not low enough to warrant sinthroid yet. I do get monitored once a year, though.

Thanks for all of your valuable information!

Joanna

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Beth
Monday, October 28/2013 at 5:50 pm

Hi there,
I have been using retin-a for years now and I love it. Recently, I had a very MILD chemical peel at my derm’s office. They told me to not use my retin-a before – and for at least 7 days after. Which I did not. More than 7 days later I went back to using my retin-a and my skin is a mess. I’m extremely flaky – I’ve been using .1% retin-a for years. I’m wondering if I should go down to a lower dose? I’ve never done mild peels like this before – I was hoping to get some advice from you. Appreciate any insight!
Beth

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:17 pm

Hi Beth, I hope your skin is getting better! You could go down to a lower dose or just use it less frequently. My skin can’t handle chemical peels so I know what you’re going through. You could also back off completely for a while and work on repairing the irritation and dryness with a bland moisturizer, and then when it feels back to normal start the Retin-A really slowly.

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Leora
Wednesday, November 6/2013 at 4:13 am

It is my first time coming upon your blog as I was researching Retin-A! I am so glad and you should expect to be an usual follower :)

Ok so I have moderet/sever acne and I was prescribed to use Retin-A Gel 0.1%..

If you can please just give me your feedback on what I am currently doing because some of it goes a little bit against what you had said.. so if there is anything you think I should change or reccemond I would really appreciate in you letting me know.

Morning:
I wash my face with Avalon Organics, Vitamin C Renewal, Refreshing Cleansing Gel
-Its not irritating to my skin so thats great
- Has vitamin C which you said should not be used with Retin-A
- I wash my face with this in the morning and at night before I put on Retin-A
- Is it bad?
- Should I not wash my face with this before Retin-A.. I would think because its a cleanser, should be fine?
http://www.iherb.com/Avalon-Organics-Vitamin-C-Renewal-Refreshing-Cleansing-Gel-8-5-fl-oz-251-ml/4432

Then I apply a liquid mixture of Sacalic Acid 3% and Azelaic Acid 2% with a cotton ball

Then I put my moisturizer which is 100% Vitamin B3 Niacin

At night:
Again cleanse with the Avalon…
Put on my Retin-A

So do you think its bad that in the morning I am putting my sacilic and azaliac mixture? Does it affect the Retin-A in not working?

Thank you for this post and I appreciate your feedback I look forwarding to reading your other blogs! Excited to browse around :)

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Joanna H.
Wednesday, November 6/2013 at 4:03 pm

Leora,

I don’t work on here, I’m just a reader, but my understanding was that Michelle said it was ok to use Vitamin C serum while using Retin A, just not at the same time. I think she said if you use Retin A, to use the Vit C in the a.m. as an antioxidant/extra sunscreen, but not at night when you use the Retin A. I use Vit C in the morning and then wait 15 mins before applying my spf moisturizer. I can’t remember if I read this in the article above, or in one of her comments.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:12 pm

Since the C is in your cleanser and not a topical, most of it is getting washed off – so it should be fine to use at the same time as the Retin-A. I’m not really sure of the benefit of having vitamin C in a cleanser to be honest :)

Regarding the acids, if they’re applied at a different time than the Retin-A then they shouldn’t affect each other – BUT that’s a lot of acid on your skin. Do you really need to use all three? Could be quite irritating/drying.

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Anu
Friday, November 22/2013 at 12:05 pm

Hey Michelle!!! Am so glad that I found your website. I am from India and was looking for a solution for my damaged and troublesome skin. I used tretinoin in the night in combination with a salicylic acid soap in the morning. That’s where I did a big mistake. After using the soap in the morning my skin got so worse that my entire cheek area got wrinkled, pitted and dried to the core. Now my skin is so uneven and lack lusture. My question is how to reverse the damage caused by using tretinoin and salicylic acid??? I want my smooth skin back :-( Please help me :-((

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Jenny
Friday, November 22/2013 at 9:03 pm

Hi Anu,

I am another visitor to this website that made a mess of my own skin from using the prescribed amount of Retin A. Read this thread. There is some sad stories, but good advice http://www.essentialdayspa.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=44866

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:06 pm

Sorry to hear that – I hope your skin is getting better! It sounds like the SA with the tretinoin was way too drying. I would use one or the other but not both. You may consider giving your skin a break for a while by using no active ingredients and just nourishing it with rich, bland moisturizer to repair the dryness/irritation. Then when you feel it’s returned to normal you could start back really slowly with the tretinoin, maybe once or twice a week and building up from there. Good luck!

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Anu
Monday, December 2/2013 at 6:15 am

Hi,

Can I take Vitamin C & cord liver oil tablets while on topical retin-A treatment?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 7:01 pm

Hi Anu, I don’t have a medical background so I can’t say for certain, but I’m sure a lot of people do – I have done so myself in the past. Please note, I no longer recommend cod liver oil – please see this post: http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/10/29/vitamin-a-for-acne/

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Jodi
Sunday, December 15/2013 at 1:00 pm

I am 47 years old and have just started using the following products for 8 days: Vi Derm cleanser for washing my face at night, Vi Derm Ultra A (1% strength), and then moisturizer with Obagi Medical Hydrate Facial Moisturizer. Are these three quality products that work well with each other? I use the Ultra A every other night, and have experienced a tighter feeling, and some flaking around the nose and mouth area, but nothing too bad. One thing I just started noticing today is that there are some dry blotchy red areas that I never used to have, now on the side of my chin and upper cheek area. They are not bumpy or pimples, just somewhat dry and redish blotchy. Is that the Ultra A doing its job? Thank you.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 16/2013 at 6:59 pm

Hi Jodi, I’m not familiar with Vi Derm. I’m sure the Obagi is fine. Yes, some dryness/redness is to be expected with topical vitamin A. If it’s too much for you, back off to less frequent application and/or apply a heavier moisturizer. You need to give it at least 6 weeks to start seeing results.

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Karleen
Thursday, December 26/2013 at 3:03 pm

Hi Michelle,

I live in the Caribbean where there is 90 degrees in the shade all year round. It is impossible to avoid the sun. I am on Retin A, as a product for acne. I have been using it on and off for 10 years. I have developed severe pigmentation on both cheeks since I started Retin A. I didn’t understand the importance of using sunscreen. The one I used made my face darker than other parts of my body so I stopped using any form of sunscreen. Can you recommend a sunscreen that is very effective. I have oily skin and also avoids products that are alcohol based. What can use to remove the dark blotches on my cheeks that are getting worst.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 11:13 pm

Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Karleen. I really think many doctors do such a disservice by not educating patients about how to use the products they’re prescribing. They leave us very in the dark!

The derms I trust have told me pigmentation is the hardest thing to get rid of. The Retin-A will actually help with that if you keep using it, as long as you don’t get sun exposure – which basically flushes all your progress down the toilet. The ingredient you want in a sunscreen is zinc oxide which is a physical block. I really like Soleo Organics as it’s 22% zinc.

To treat the brown spots, you could try a 4-6% hydroquinone cream in combination with the Retin-A (say, hydroquinone in the am and Retin-A at night). Obagi also has a system that includes both of these actives – I think it’s called Nu Derm. In terms of topicals I think the combination of Retin-A and hydroquinone is your best bet.

Otherwise, you can do lasers. IPL or even Fraxel… but you’d need a series of treatments and that can get quite pricey. However, they do work faster than topicals will.

I hope this helps :)

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Mindy
Friday, December 27/2013 at 12:06 am

Hi,

I started Retin-A 0.01% about a month ago, and I think my skin is finally adjusting to it. I don’t know if it has changed things yet, it’s hard to tell. I’m using it for dark spots from old pimples and blackheads on my nose. I’m wondering if I should try a higher % or wait until I use my current tube?

Also, I don’t use any serums in the morning, just my Clarins HP Bright Plus moisturizer but am wondering if I should start using a vitamin C serum pre-moisturizer. I know you recommended the SkinCeuticals Ferulic Acid one. Can that be used in the morning and Retin-A at night? In another post you mentioned that you use the Ferulic Acid instead of Retin-A now so wasn’t sure if it’s one or the other that can be used at a time.

Thanks for your help!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 10:51 pm

You can check with your prescribing derm, but I think one month is way too soon to think about moving up in strength. It takes 6 weeks to even start seeing results and about 6 months to really get the full benefit. Plus, stronger doesn’t necessarily mean better as there is more chance of irritation…

Yes, I recommend doing your vitamin C application in the morning via a serum. I’ve used Skinceuticals serums for years now – first started on CE Ferulic and for the last couple of years I’ve used Phloretin CF. They are both great. I go on and off with my Retin-A application. I have to try a lot of things for my ‘job’ but I wouldn’t consider a vitamin C serum a substitute for Retin-A. Some things I use instead are the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense (a mix of acids), SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 or Avene Triacneal (which is retinaldehyde).

I hope this helps!

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Antonella
Wednesday, January 1/2014 at 9:08 am

Hey! I’ve been using Retin A for 2 days and my skin started peeling. Is this a good or bad sign? And how can I prevent it?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 10:46 pm

Retin-A does a deep exfoliation so yes it does mean it’s working, but you can back off to less frequent application if the peeling is too much for you. Or apply moisturizer after you apply it. (You can even moisturize before, but that means even less penetration.)

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Antonella
Thursday, January 9/2014 at 2:28 pm

Can you give me a name of a good moisturizer that I can use? I’ve recently traveled and I’m still using retin a and now there’s no peeling at all. Is that a good or bad sign and are they certain food I should avoid? Thank u

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:20 pm

Anything bland and non-irritating is good, like CeraVe or Cetaphil moisturizers.

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anna
Monday, January 6/2014 at 3:32 pm

what strength of vitamin c is recommended…and is ordering off internet a good idea?thanks anna

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 8/2014 at 10:44 pm

I think SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF are good quality vitamin C serums. Do you mean ordering Retin-A on the internet? If you’re in the US you could try My Mexican Drugstore.

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Michelle
Thursday, January 9/2014 at 10:56 pm

I use Retin-A Micro about once every five days or so. Four to five days is how long it takes for the flakiness and dryness to go away from ONE use. I’ve been having this issue for months now. After applying, I wait about 20 minutes and then apply a daily moisturizer by Live Clean (natural and organic, so there aren’t any other chemicals irritating my skin) mixed with a few drops of jojoba oil. Do you recommend that I try to use it more frequently so that my skin can adjust to it, or will it jut make the flakiness worse?
Help!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:19 pm

The problem with only applying it once a week is that it’s probably not frequent enough for your skin to actually develop a tolerance. So, you’re most likely just irritating it on a weekly basis and then starting all over again. I would see if you can do twice a week and build up from there until you can use it nightly or every other night. You’re going to have to accept a bit of flakiness and dryness during the initial adjustment period, which is normal and to be expected. Hope this makes sense.

Also what strength are you using? It may also be a little bit too strong for you, so you could consider going down to the next level.

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Stephanie
Friday, January 10/2014 at 9:59 pm

So, I just started using this cream the 0.025 dosage, it’s been about 3 days. I’m getting a little skeptical about it because It’s making my face burn and red. My face always feels hot and whenever I put any moisturizer, or foundation on, my face feels like its on fire. My skin usually has no reaction to moisturizers or cover up before I started using this. Will that feeling go away once my skin gets used to it or should I stop using it ? It does work really well on clearing up my acne, and I’d like to be able to keep using it but I don’t want to continue if my face is always going to hurt. Any advice you could give me? Thanks !

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:16 pm

It sounds like you’re using it too often to start, and 0.025% might even be too strong for you right now. (Some sensitive skin types need to start at 0.01%.) Retin-A should not “always hurt” at all. Since you’re new to it, start at maybe twice a week and build up very slowly from there. It can take 6 weeks to get adjusted and then 6 months to start seeing full results. A little flakiness/dryness/redness is tolerable, but it’s a sign you’re overdoing it if your skin is burning when you apply moisturizer. I would back off and start again much more slowly. Hope this helps!

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melissa
Monday, January 13/2014 at 10:15 am

I want to use a face oil to moisturize and I know you said Emu oil is horrible. What about Josie Maran Argan Oil? Is that good?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:13 pm

I don’t like argan oil (this article explains my views on PUFA oils: http://beautyeditor.ca/2014/02/17/cause-of-skin-aging/). Jojoba oil (which is actually a wax) is safe and would be a good choice if you must use an oil moisturizer.

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Bek
Thursday, January 16/2014 at 7:34 am

I have large pore oily skin. I’ve been using Retinol A for 1 week and my skin is worse! Please help

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:12 pm

There can be an initial adjustment period that lasts up to 6 weeks before your skin gets used to retinoids. It seems to be more common with acne-prone people where they get a bad “initial breakout” and then their skin starts to do better. It’s important to go slowly, backing off to less frequent applications (and following the application tips in the post) if you find you’re getting acne or lots of irritation. In some cases, people get reactions that are from the product formulation and not the retinoid itself. If you continue to use it for the 6 weeks and feel like there is no improvement in sight, that could be the case and I would check with your prescribing derm. I would say the clear gel format would be less likely to cause acne than the cream. But, for some people they just have to get through the adjustment period before their skin starts to improve. Good luck!

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Molly
Friday, January 24/2014 at 2:34 pm

I’ve been on retin-a for about 6 weeks now and I’m having trouble finding a good makeup routine. In the past my go to was makeup forever hd. Now it looks dried up on my skin. The only thing that seems to do ok and not flake off is the dior nude bb cream. The problem is that it doesnt last long, and i’m very fair and the lightest shade doesnt match that well. Any tips? has anyone had good luck with certain foundations that last but dont dry you out?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:06 pm

You could check out a Face & Body foundation, as they’re going to be more moisturizing. The MUFE HD is better for a normal to oily skin type. I really like the MUFE Face & Body and MAC also makes one. They should make the flakiness a bit more manageable, while giving good buildable coverage. I also love Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. Hope this helps!

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Mindy
Thursday, January 30/2014 at 3:26 pm

I hadn’t used my Retin-A for about 3 days and it feels so nice not to have to wait 20 mins after washing my face to put it on, worry about sun exposure in the morning, etc. I almost decided to give it up completely – been using it since Thanksgiving and I can’t really tell if it’s doing anything to help my skin yet. I came back to this page to ask what I could use instead of Retin-A, but after reading your page again I think I might stick with it. At least until my tube runs out.

However, I also wonder if I should go ahead and try the next strength. I’m on 0.01…or would you suggest waiting longer before going up on strength?

Thanks!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:05 pm

If you don’t want to use Retin-A, you could try an alpha-hydroxy acid – they also help with skin turnover and have an anti-aging benefit. NeoStrata makes some great glycolic products that you could try. I also love Lotion P50 from Biologique Recherche – it’s pricey but absolutely makes a huge difference. I think the key with these products is that you need to use them twice a day to reap any benefits.

As for moving up in strength in Retin-A, I don’t know what your skin type is, but I find 0.025% works great for me. When I used 0.01% I didn’t find it did very much. As always, go slowly and back off to less frequent applications (and follow the tips in the post) if the irritation is too much.

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Melly
Friday, January 31/2014 at 8:54 am

Hi Michelle,

I’d like to ask more about your old comments above stating that cruciferous veggies are goitrogens. Since you said that you have (or had?) low thyroid, do you avoid kale, spinach, broccoli etc. altogether? I am not vegan but I try to eat healthy by incorporating more green leafy veggies on my diet, I really really love my broccoli and was about to start drinking green juice on a daily basis. I don’t know whether I’m low-thyroid or not, am gonna check asap but I do suffer from mild-to-moderate acne, not that bad but very persistent and stubborn (especially the post red marks!)
So if I want to consume more metabolism-increasing food, that means I should cut those cruciferous veggies completely?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:00 pm

Yes I stopped eating those vegetables. Kale can be ok (as it has some vitamin K) but only IF you cook it to death. Any raw vegetables (except for raw carrot) are a known cause of low thyroid, which very well could be contributing to your acne. RayPeat.com has a lot more info on all of this. I also suggest to avoid PUFA oils (info on that here: http://beautyeditor.ca/2014/02/17/cause-of-skin-aging/) and this post has some good suggestions about boosting thyroid function through diet: http://beautyeditor.ca/2014/02/25/foods-that-prevent-aging-skin/

Hope this helps!

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benjamin
Saturday, February 1/2014 at 6:14 pm

Dear Michelle,hi there! i’m a guy and i recently started to use zein obagi skin health Radical night repair(retinol 1%) and i’m really worry cause it’s been 6 days (i used it every night,maybe more than just a pump) and my skin it’s really red, and peeling,itchy and it’s like i’m literally on fIRE!i really wanna continue and don’t stop the treatment,but i have a wedding in 1o days and i don’t know what to do,i’m gonna have problems even with shaving my face!Also my doctor told me to use moisturizer by obagi during the day but i put my skinceuticals FERULIC VITAMN C SERUM before the moisturizer during the day and it was burning even more! should i stop to use ferulic acid during the day and maybe do retinol 4 nights a week?plus i normally exfoliate with eminence powder scrub before shaving,should i do it,or not right now cause my skin is in hell? i was just thinking it would help the peeling! i’m sorry if i asked you too much! you are the best!xxxx!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:55 pm

I wouldn’t use the SkinCeuticals on irritated skin – definitely wait on that product until your face calms down. And back off on the nightly retinol – it sounds like that’s way too aggressive. I would try every other night or even less often – if your skin is red and burning then that’s a clear sign that it’s too much for you. You should be able to tell when there’s a tolerable level of dryness/flakiness, but products shouldn’t sting upon application. I would also recommend backing off on the scrub. Scrubs can be ok to remove some of the dead skin flakes you get from Retin-A, but you don’t want to use them when your face is on fire. I would suggest to back right off and really baby your skin – if there is a bland moisturizer you know you tolerate, then apply that and just give it some time to repair. Hang in there!

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Nicky
Monday, February 3/2014 at 12:19 am

I started using Tretinoin 0.5% this week. Each night before bed for about four days straight. I stopped using 3 days ago as I have red swollen itchy dry skin under my eyes that is so painful. I look terrible. They have deep grooves and I am not sure what to do.

I have tried hydrocortisone, vaseline, benedryl cream and nothing is helping. It looks worse and worse.

Any suggestions. I want this to go away.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:48 pm

Ouch! Sounds like you went too aggressive. Have you checked in with your prescribing dermatologist? Usually they recommend the hydrocortisone and may even be able to prescribe you a stronger one than you can get over the counter (I don’t find the OTC ones work that well). That should be the best thing for a reaction like that. I would stay away from the Vaseline or Benadryl cream, and don’t wear makeup on it until it heals. Also (obviously) make sure you’re not using the Retin-A at all. It sounds like the strength you used (and possibly the amount as well) was too much for the delicate under-eye skin. While it is possible to use Retin-A there, you have to go super-slow as the skin goes crepey and dry so much more easily. Once it heals up you could try a tiny (pea-sized) amount of Retin-A maybe twice a week, not under your eyes, and see if that’s tolerated. If not then maybe you’re allergic to something in it and need a different formulation. Hope this helps!

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nyc967
Thursday, February 13/2014 at 7:54 pm

I used to use Retin A, but the side effects were so bad – my dermatologist recommended the Lady Soma Serum and Lady Soma Somatique Face Wash. It has Retinol Vitamin A in it, WITHOUT the side effects of Retin A. For those of you actually using Retin A, here is my routine… Wash with Lady Soma Somatique Face Wash – then apply the Lady Soma Renewal Serum. In the morning I wash again with this Lady Soma Wash. The Lady Soma stuff also seems to be helping with the intial breakout I got from the Retin A (have not had acne in years! was put on the Retin A for sun damage & fine lines).

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danny
Wednesday, February 19/2014 at 11:32 pm

im almost on my fourth week of retin a , i have really red dry skin ,im using 0.05,im using vitamin e oil and cerave , do you reccomend the vitamin e oil and cerave lotion or should i use something else?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:42 pm

Vitamin E is great for skin although for some people it can be comedogenic and/or allergenic. I cannot use soybean-derived vitamin E oil – it gives me an itchy red rash – so that could be the cause of your irritation. I would test not using it for a while and see. The CeraVe should be fine, it’s a bland moisturizer.

You can also try backing off on applying the Retin-A every night and just do every other night or every three nights, to let your skin calm down and then go more slowly. Also make sure to apply it 30-45 mins after you wash your face as that will make it less irritating.

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Rachael
Saturday, March 1/2014 at 5:33 pm

I used retin-a from the time I was 16 all the way to age 29 with only a spattering of brief breaks within those years.

When I was 30 people still guessed my age anywhere from 16 to no older than 24! Perhaps good genes had something to do with it since I smoked off and on during those years too. It’s now been 8 years since I smoked though.

I don’t know why I stopped using it except that my acne had finally cleared up and I went through a really poor phase where I couldn’t justify the expense anymore.

Now at age 40 I have just placed an order for 2 tubes and will be starting over again with it.

My only sign of aging right now is the beginning of some crow’s feet and some slight wrinkles on my neck. So, I have started being diligent about spf 30 mineral sunscreen each and every day and will soon be using retin-a again. This time forever.

I truly believe that during the 15 years I used it. it kept my face preserved, in stasis and not aged.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:40 pm

That’s amazing! Thanks for this testimonial Rachael!

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Rasa
Sunday, March 16/2014 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for the great article. I want to ask: can Retin-A to treat rosacea? I’m 51 years old. Thanks

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:39 pm

I think some doctors do prescribe it for that purpose, but I don’t see it as a cure-all and I think if you try it you would have to go extremely slowly since it’s going to be very irritating on sensitive rosacea skin.

This a good article on the underlying cause of rosacea. http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/rosacea-inflammation-aging.shtml It should improve once you fix your thyroid function; most likely at age 51 the fastest way to do so would be through T3 and T4 thyroid supplementation. Ray Peat has more info on that as well as many articles about improving thyroid through nutrition. I suggest to start there. Hope that helps!

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Priscila
Monday, March 17/2014 at 8:01 am

Hi Michelle,
Can you please tell me if Eminence products are ok to be used with Retin A gel 0.1% I have recently started getting acne in my mid 20s many of which are leaving behind marks. I am starting to use the Eminence Mineral Cleanse Concentrate with a Retina A gel in the same week. Can these products be used together? What do you recommend for helping the post marks fade?
Thank you for your advice,
A desperate reader.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:34 pm

Should be ok, just watch that it’s not too drying, as I noticed that cleanser is made for oily skin. With Retin-A your skin can become drier so it very well could be too strong. I personally don’t think cleansers do that much (they certainly wouldn’t have an effect on post-acne marks), so I wouldn’t worry about investing in anything fancy there. The Retin-A will help with active acne and to fade the marks. You could also try using a hydroquinone product in the a.m., like Lustra 4%, but that’s quite creamy so I would caution against it if you’re still breaking out.

To heal the acne I really believe you need to address the underlying causes, which are either low thyroid function or a vitamin A deficiency (or both). I suggest a serving of liver once a week, or this supplement: http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/10/29/vitamin-a-for-acne/. Oysters are other shellfish are also important for skin health. I would check for low thyroid by measuring your pulse and temperature. This post has some information on boosting thyroid function through nutrition: http://beautyeditor.ca/2014/02/25/foods-that-prevent-aging-skin/

Hope this helps!

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stella575
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 3:42 pm

Is Michelle still answering here ??

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:16 pm

Hi Stella, this post is over a year old so I only jump in here occasionally, time-permitting.

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stella575
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 3:43 pm

OK. So if I am not experiencing any flaing, redness, just dryness, does that mean that my Retin A 0.05 is not working?
Thanks

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 4:24 pm

No, it doesn’t have to irritate you in order to be working. I don’t know how long you’ve been using it, but you need to give it at least 6 weeks before your skin gets used to it (and it can take a full 6 months to start seeing the effects). If it’s been that long and you’re tolerating it ok, then you can consider moving up in strength, but know that there would be a higher chance of irritation. You can follow some of the tips in the post if you do experience that.

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stella575
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:29 pm

Thanks so much for your comments Michelle I truly appreciate. I have been using the 0.025 off and on, now for the last 1 month I started the 0.05 every other night (I had done a chemical peel that did nothing, so I had to stop Retin A for that reason).

So far no peeling and I asked cos I was wondering since my Retin A expired, it might not have any effect anymore..

I n the meantime I have been to a derm here in my country where he told me I wont find it in Europe (I had bought when I was in the US and even in the carribbean, the latter without a prescription) . He didn’t even spend 10 minutes talking to me, he said that there are better treatments for anti aging nowadays and he believes reason it is discontinued in Europe is mainly for that reason…old fashioned lol. He prescribed me some retinoids from la roche posay, which I believe are also good as I already use their Toleraine cleanser, the best for Retin A users. I am kind of confused as I haven’t seen any results yet but at the same time would love to continue using it and give it 6 months or a year! Now the problem is, where can I buy it? Do you know of anyone selling it online? Shall I be careful of fake ones around?

Last but not least…will Retin A help with plumpness and certainly…can it help with elasticity of skin?? I have some sagging between my eyebrows…its not really a frown line..its kinda saggy…and I been trying products for the last 5 years …I do not wish to try botox or fillers…I do believe there is something out there that helps me slightly! In general I have really good skin tone, pigmentation at bay…I had some on my forehead but am alternating my Retin A with HQ 4% so that helps. In the morning I use skinceuticals C E Ferulic…but my skin needs a bit of a lift and its making me a bit sad…

Look forward for your help, you are doing an awesome job helping us !

Stella

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, April 1/2014 at 5:54 pm

That’s very odd – doesn’t sound like you have a great dermatologist. Retinol products certainly don’t compare to the strength of a prescription retinoid. You could try retinaldehyde in Avene TriAcneal or Ystheal lines… that’s the strongest OTC product I know of. More info on that here: http://beautyeditor.ca/2014/02/28/avene-triacneal-review/

I believe it’s quite difficult to import non prescription meds to Europe, although as I’m in Canada I don’t know for sure. I know My Mexican Drugstore and Farmacia del Nino are reputable Mexican drugstores but I suspect any medicines you order would most likely be confiscated by customs as Europe is very strict.

Retin-A can have a mild effect on sagging skin, but I think you’d need a more invasive procedure to achieve anything dramatic. You could try pregnenolone, it is a safe supplement that is said to produce a “face lift” effect. More info on that here: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/three-hormones.shtml. I would also follow Ray Peat’s advice on hormones and diet as that can definitely make a huge difference in your appearance.

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Marjam
Sunday, May 4/2014 at 1:02 pm

Hey Michelle,

I started using retin-a ( obagi- refissa )and i´m really happy with it. After washing my face i use Paula’s Choice intensive wrinkle repair retinol serum and wait 30 minutes and then apply my retin-a. Is that ok?

I have read online that you can’t use retin-a and retinol at the same time. They say that the retin-a looses it’s strength. Is that a myth?

Sincerly,
Marjam

stella575
Wednesday, April 2/2014 at 4:46 pm

Thanks Michelle for coming back to me. All I can do at this stage is continuing to use my tube. I hope I can continue to use it in the summer and avoid the sun and not sunbathe.

In the meantime I will hopefully get a friend in the US to buy it for me if I find my skin is improving. I do get so confused with all the products out there, today I just heard someone bought the walgreens alphahydroxy face cream and they had instant results! Now I wanna buy that too!

In the meantime I am looking for a good moisturizer too. Retin A has certainly dried my skin, and today I was given a sample of the aqua- crème by gerlain…as I was told my skin needs moisture and water, and oils are NOT moisturers. This cream did wonders for my face, and although I wont but it as it is superexpensive, I am looking for something similar. My skin was transformed when it felt this cream touch my skin lol.

Interesting to read about what this guy Ray is saying, and I am reading more about that hormone you mentioned! I heard copper is really good too! (Copper as in vitamins not copper topically)

Thanks once again for your response keep up the good work:)

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Dalton Hazlet
Thursday, April 3/2014 at 9:20 pm

I’m a guy and struggled with acne for years, my dermatologist had me on epiduo and everything else under the sun, all of a sudden he recommended tazorac I was like oh ok he said I’m going to put you on the .1 and he warned me I was going to be in for a rough few months I told him I was up for it, he then made me shake on it that would give up. I had one month of pure hell! I swear the skin was falling off my face, It was making me loose my mind. All of a sudden I woke up one day washed my face and ahhhhhhhhhhh like the angels in heaven came down and blessed me with gods gift of flawless skin. Holy shit I can’t believe how beautiful it is, not a blemish not a black head nothing but beautiful skin, I did find that the clarisonic was a god sent as well it made everything work better and helped with the flaking, also I use roc retinol 5 in 1 daily moisturizer, and Olay pro x exfoliating face wash 2 times a day. And the best if all neutrogena SPF 110 age shield sun screen yup that’s right 110 I was thinking Heavens to Murgatroyd that’s rediculous but it’s amazing. I have flawless ivory colored skin and will stay on this regimen till the day I die and I want gallons and gallons and gallons of Retin A to take with me to my grave so I look great wherever I end up, heven or hell.

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Domenica
Sunday, April 6/2014 at 8:39 pm

Hi!!
I want to know if i can use Retin-a if im taking diuretics??

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Domenica
Sunday, April 6/2014 at 8:59 pm

Hi!!
I read one of your beauty articles!! I have one question, hopping you could help me!!
I just star to use Retin A, but I read that you can mix it with diuretics, and for health problems I have to take one diuretic per day… Should I stop using Retin A?? What happen to my skin if I use both??
What do you recommend me to do??

Thank you very much

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Jazmine Rose
Wednesday, April 30/2014 at 12:11 pm

Well to start off , I’m 14 years old & I’m a girl. I went to a clinic where the doctor had prescribed me Retin – A. She’s a very good doctor & had also mentioned to me about how I should use moisturizers that have sunscreen in them so that my face doesn’t become red when I go out in the sun. She told me how many times to use it a week. So far I’ve only used it 1 time this week and left it on overnight , and I had no redness , no itching , & no peeling of my face. I did see results though. My face has cleared up and she had also prescribed me with a face wash. It’s a benzoyl peroxide topical face wash that I use 2-3 times a day. So far , retin – a has been good for me & she’s bringing me back in 4 weeks for a checkup about my acne. She warned me about the possible itching , redness & peeling of the skin but so far I haven’t gotten any of it. (:

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Melissa
Saturday, May 3/2014 at 12:56 pm

You don’t need to wait after applying moisturizer to use Retin-A. In fact, most doctors recommend putting moisturizer on first and then applying the Retin-A over top, but you can do it the other way around as well. It will not reduce the effectiveness of the Retin-A.

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Erin N.
Monday, May 5/2014 at 12:11 am

Michelle,
Firstly thank you for this article! I read about a years worth of questions and responses on here and learned a ton! I still have a few questions tho! I was prescribed retin-a .1% about 7 years ago for acne/rosacea. I was 21 at the time and gave up quickly not educating myself on the full treatment routine. I’m now 28 and have had the worst year of acne which over the past 6 months started scaring (it never had before). I also have new darkening pigment over my lip that started within the last year. I’ve tried PTR despot and glycolic gel without results. I use neutragena gentle face wash daily and occasionally eucerin moisturizer. Tonight I decided to get the old retin-a out, literally my old tube. Is it okay to use very old cream? I do not see an expiration date. I plan to get back into a derm md for a lower dose but until then will go every 3rd or 4th night. Also can you suggest a better moisturizer I have no experience with any. My acne are a variety of different kinds, I will be looking into vit a supplement but have you found any correlation with types of acne and causes? My thyroid is within normal function. Thank you for your time and repetition, even in correcting the Susie responder :)

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Erin N.
Monday, May 5/2014 at 1:03 am

I also am wondering about clinique am/pm 2 week laser serum. I love the results- next day tight gorgeous skin but am not sure if I can use this with retin-a and It’s not for acne/pigment issues which is my biggest concern currently.

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Retin-Yay
Tuesday, June 3/2014 at 2:14 am

Just turned 30 and have started using Retin-A occasionally to prevent wrinkles and whatnot. I combine it with Cetaphil moisturizer, which really offsets the dryness and irritation. In fact, I wouldn’t use it without the Cetaphil in combination. Even though I don’t put the Retin-A on/around my lips, it seems to dry them out and chap them almost immediately after application.

My mom made the mistake of over-applying Retin-A to her already dry skin and ended up burning herself pretty badly. She’s made me swear not to “abuse” it like she did! Don’t have to tell me twice.

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Maya
Sunday, June 22/2014 at 2:01 pm

Dear Michelle
I am a 30 years old guy, using Retin-A (0.05%) for the last three days for acne, large pores, wrinkles, black heads. The problem is that I can’t sleep for the last two nights. Could you please tell me what to do now?
Thank you.

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hazel
Wednesday, June 25/2014 at 10:19 am

Hi,

Would like to ask if it’s safe to use retin a underneath the eye area where dark rings are formed?

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Irene
Wednesday, July 30/2014 at 11:09 am

Hiya!

Lustra is no longer available. Do you have a substitute?

Thx!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 30/2014 at 5:13 pm

Hi Irene, I would check out this product, like the Lustra it’s also 4% hydroquinone: http://www.neostrata.ca/products/-ingredient/hydroquinone/hq-plus-cream-spf-20/100

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