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37 Years Old, Using Retin a to Combat Ageing Signs - Scotland

I have always looked younger than my age. I live...

I have always looked younger than my age. I live in Scotland in the UK and we don't get much sun ! so that has probably got something to do with that, but as I hit 30 I began to see the first signs of creppiness on my upper cheeks and naso-labial wrinkles not folds, actual lines that would stay whether I was smiling or not) as well as a deepening of the existing forehead horizontal lines which I have ALWAYS had since teens, and the dreaded number 11s between the brows. Fast forward to age 37 and the cheek creppiness I felt was really ageing my face more than anything, makeup made it look worse as it settled in all the fine lines and only served to accentuate them. I tried derma rolling a few tomes but it didn't seem to do much except hurt. I read up on things I could do to try to improve the situation and I came across Retin A. It seemed from the scientific literature that it is the only topical treatment that actually has been proven to increase collagen production in the skin and has visible results. But I also saw some reviews that told of the side effects, the increased likelihood of burning in the sun if not vigilant about sunscreen, and even some reviews which said Retin A had CAUSED wrinkles and that it was the worst mistake people had made. So with trepidation and armed with the facts, I purchased the generic Tretinoin gel 0.1% from an online pharmacy. Here in the UK you cannot buy Retin A in the shops or chemists, and you cannot get it from your GP as far as I am aware, they would probably laugh you out of the surgery if you went in for such a reason. Anyway I found a great online place, and got 4 tubes of the 0.1% for under £15 with shipping. I initially wanted the 0.05% as I had read that you must start slowly and build up over a period of time to acclimate your skin to the Retin A, but the pharmacy for some reason were charging much more for the weaker strength! Anyway, they arrived within the week and I began my Retin A journey on 20th February 2014.
As I am sure a lot of eager people do, to try to get 'better' and faster results, I used the recommended pea-sized amount all over my face of the 0.1% gel. I didn't see an difference (no redness or peeling) after day 1 so I continued to do this every night for a few days. BIG mistake, and looking back I can't believe how stupid that was. On day 4 or 5 I woke up to what was basically a chemical burn all over my face. The corners of my mouth were so sore and cracked that I could barely open my mouth, and my skin was peeling of in little bits like a terrible sunburn. For the next few days I slathered my face in olive oil to calm the skin, as it was the only thing that didn't sting and I read that olive oil is very close to the skins own fatty acids and so is good topically on the skin. As the skin healed it continued to peel badly. After a week or so of healing I had another go, but this time I buffered the Retin A in some thick simple moisturiser (Nivea in the little blue flat tub) about 50% Retin A and 50% Nivea crème. I then used a pea sized amount all over my face but tried to avoid the corners of my mouth which were still sore. Yes - I took it right up to my lower lids as the fine lines there are the ones I am trying to target. I have read that some people don't recommend Retin A up to the lower eyes but I was willing to give it a go. For me, that skin has never been sensitive like some people say it is, for me it was the lower corners of the mouth and jawline that the Retin a seemed to cause redness and peeling.
So I have been doing this twice a week approximately for the last 15 weeks. Around week 3 I started to see a kind of glow to the skin, a more even tone and a general brightness to the skin. I was happy with the initial results, apart from the peeliness of the skin which I had to buff of or exfoliate before makeup (otherwise it looks terrible!).
About week 6 or 7 I started to think I had made a big mistake and began to panic. WHY? Well, I caught sight of my reflection one morning and it seemed that the area under my eyes and upper cheeks had hundreds of NEW little wrinkles, vertical as well as horizontal which I never had before. I remembered some reviews saying that Retin A might cause some initial wrinkling which would eventually go away, but there were other reviews which said that it caused irreversible wrinkling and was awful etc etc, so I was undecided what to do. I was horrified to be looking worse than I did when I started the treatment, and was ready to pack it all in and try to repair the damage somehow. For some reason I kept going, mainly on the strength of the people who said to stick it out and that I would begin to see positive results , perhaps not even for 6 months to a year.
I began to be quite obsessed with checking my face in different lights etc, to see if the wrinkling / creppiness had advanced, and to he honest some days it looked awful and some days it didn't look so ad, it seemed to change depending on what day it was and how far from the application of the Retin A I was and if the area was about to peel or not etc.
I am now 15 weeks in, and I think I have turned a corner in the last couple of weeks. The upper cheek area which I was initially worried about has definitely improved. The small area of creppiness/fine lines has smoothed out for sure. Although I don't look 18 again, which I wasn't expecting, there is a marked improvement in that area. But what has amazed me is the improvement in my deep forehead furrows which I was not expecting to improve. I would say they have filled in about 40%, and the naso-labial wrinkles have also filled in somewhat and do not look as long or deep. I didn't take pictures beforehand so I don't have a comparison but overall I am sure that there is a positive difference.
I did panic at week 6 to 10 thinking that I had made an awful mistake, but my recommendation is to stick with the regime - I was about to give up but I then turned a corner for some reason. I think it must take that long for your skin to renew itself to a point where the new collagen starts to make an appearance. I have only been on it for 15 weeks so I am hopeful that I will continue to see positive changes. My tips are as follows:
1. USE SUNSCREEN factor 50 every day, even here in overcast Scotland I have experienced some burning when outside with sunscreen, so if you love in a hot place I would absolutely use sunscreen every time you are outside, and re-apply frequently.
2. Don't overdo it and don't apply more than a pea sized amount. You WON'T get faster or better results, you will burn your skin like I did. Use the lower strength and work your way up over months, or even buffer with a simple thick moisturiser to water it down even further if you want. Use it sparingly only a couple of times a week.
3. Don't apply to wet skin. Make sure your skin is dry and clean. Retin A irritates wet skin for some reason.
4. Avoid the corners of your mouth and mucous membranes.
5. Don't slap it on thinking that nothing is happening. It takes about 3 days for the effects of the application to start peeling your skin. Be patient, and wait for a few days to see how your skin is coping before you do another application.

I am still on my first tube, and half used approximately half of it 15 weeks in, so that shows you how little you need. More is not better.

In summary, it takes TIME to see results. my skin is definitely thicker and tighter than before, there is a marked reduction in fine lines and creppiness even under the eyes, reduced forehead furrows and naso-labial wrinkles, and an overall even glow to the skin.

The one bad side effect that I have begun to notice is a slight increase in hair growth on the sides of the jawline (I'm not talking big thick dark hairs, just an increase in the vellus fine blonde facial hair). I have seen this mentioned on a few websites so I will do some more research to see what the connection is to Retin A but I have definitely seen an increase in my fine facial hairs since starting Retin A.
Name not provided

Self prescribed.

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