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My Retin-a / Hydroquinone Journey - Pasadena, CA

I'm almost 40, and went to see a derm to treat my...

I'm almost 40, and went to see a derm to treat my dark circles and the beginning of visible sun damage. I moved to SoCal two years ago and boy, did that sun make its mark on me. I used to live in a very sunny and warm part of the world, but it wasn't as close to the equator as LA is and I never used sunscreen as a daily thing. Just when I was at the beach. I noticed a new patch on my forehead, and a few sun spots are starting to show on my cheeks. They look like freckles.

I also have horrid dark circles due to a few different problems, among them a slight tear trough deformation / upper cheek fat loss, but mostly very fine lines that have settled along my orbital bone, some pigmentation, and thin skin. I asked for options in treating both the lines and pigmentation.

She gave me a compounded cream with 0.025% retinoid acid, 6% hydroquinone and 0.5% hydrocortisone. Before I got it, I used a sample of Renova for a week or so to see how my skin reacted.

It's been a couple of weeks now. I stopped the renova, and am using the derm's cream every other night. So far, I've had zero reaction. Nothing. I even use it around my eyes, and they are usually pretty sensitive. It doesn't sting, my skin is not red, not flaking or dry. It did itch quite a lot for a few days, but that has stopped. My skin looks pretty good.

I'll probably increase to two days on / one day off next week and see how that goes. I hope I'll just use up the full 1oz, then perhaps move on to retinoid acid only (I don't want to use so much hydroquinone, and cortisone, for too long. By the time I finish this batch, I hope my skin will have adjusted enough that I can stop using the cortisone). She said that my sun damage is small and recent enough that it may be enough to use hydroquinone for a couple of months.

This review is more of a way to document my journey than anything else.

Still no reaction

This week I've been using the cream two days on / one day off. Still no reaction at all, even on my eyelids. I'm surprised, because using an OTC hydroquinone gel there did give me a pretty good irritation before I got to see the derm. I guess the cortisone is really working.

Anyway, I will up the frequency to 3 days on / 1 day off as of tomorrow night. If it still goes well, I'll use it every day starting next week.

My current skin regimen :

AM :
- Wash only if I feel like it, otherwise I just spray some pure rose water on (no alcohol, no additive, no nothing)
- SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic
- Coffee :)
- SkinCeuticals Daily Moisturizer
- After a few minutes, SkinCeuticals SPF50 tinted sunscreen (forgot the name) + the one for the eyes.
- Rarely any foundation. If I do put something on, it's bronze powder in lieu of blush.

PM :
- Remove makeup using a specific makeup remover
- Wash in the shower using SkinMedica Sensitive Skin Cleanser
- SkinCeuticals B5 gel

On Retinoid/Hydroquinone night :
- Wait 30 minutes
- Apply derm's cream

Every other night :
- SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight cream for dry skin
- SkinMedica TNS Eye cream

I sometimes use my moisturizer and eye cream on Retinoid night right before I go to bed - depending on how my skin feels.
Westlake Village Dermatologic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
4 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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Comments (3)

It is my understanding that long-term use of cortisone thins the skin. Not sure what is considered long-term. Did your physician address that issue?
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So glad you took the time to share, as you mention it really is a great way to document your progress :) Are you taking progress photos? If so, are you willing to share with us?
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Thank you. To be honest, my skin looks normal, and the sun damage is scarce enough (on my whole face) and light enough (on my forehead) that it doesn't really show in pictures. I do have a few, maybe I'll share them after a while if there is a visible difference. My dark circles, though... I posted a couple of pics a few weeks ago in the Dermal Fillers Q&A section. Again, I'll post after pics if and when there is an after to show off :)
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