Adding Prescription Retin-A to my Beauty Regime - Atlanta, GA

I just turned 50 and, although no one guesses me...

I just turned 50 and, although no one guesses me to be 50 years old, I am starting to see my forehead expression lines go a little deeper, little fine wrinkles by my eyes and fine wrinkles here and there. When I have makeup on, you cannot see them but I am not ready to do botox. I will save that adventure until I am older.

I think a little background is important:

My skin has always been oily. My pores have always been large. I get hormonal adult acne once a month especially in the area of my lower cheeks and by my mouth. The acne can be deep and large at times and sometimes it will leave a mark that takes forever to go away. I only use natural products on my face. Avalon Organics C serum (day) and their CoQ10 serum (night) has been my regime for the past five years with intermittent Olay regenerist microdermabrasion/peels done monthly. I have been happy overall with the results from my routine.

I discussed all the above with my dermatologist and he suggested that I try Atralin gel (a retin-a gel) and said it should address most of my concerns and he wrote a prescription for it. Normally this stuff sells for close to $500 but there is a program he told me about. I enrolled in the program and, although my insurance denied the prescription, my cash price in the program was $125 (quite a savings from the close to $500). The dermatologist told me that the tube should last me 8-12 months. So it really wasn't bad.

I have uploaded "before" or starting point pictures of the areas that I have concern and would like to see improvement on. I want to keep it realistic and say that I will be happy if the lines soften and I can resist anymore fine lines and wrinkles developing.

Last night was my first night of application. My Derm recommended that I use it every two days until my skin adjusts. I washed my face and waited 20 minutes before applying. They say to wait 15-30 minutes. I used a pea sized dot of the gel last night. I dabbed it onto my forehead, two cheeks, and chin and spread it from there. I was careful not to get too close to my eyes and nose. I did use my CoQ10 around my eyes. Honestly, the Atralin was a little bit drying to my oily skin. I could feel my skin tightening which is not a feeling that I am accustomed to. There was no burning or stinging after the application. About and hour later there was very, very slight tingling that lasted only a few minutes. When I woke up this morning, my skin was oily again but not to the extent it normally is but not feeling tight anymore. I washed and applied my CoQ10 serum for day wear with my foundation plus sunscreen. So this was Day 1. I will update everyone once I have been using it a month.

End of Week One

It has been a week and I have been using the prescription gel every other day. My face is drier but not dry so that is a pleasant surprise. Today I noticed flaking skin by my jowls. Off with the old and in with the new! I added a Vitamin C serum as people have suggested. I have been viewing various blogs and people find the C works well during the day. So my routine now is alternating the prescription gel and the CoQ10 serum nightly and using the vitamin-C serum during the day. I am just going to go with the flow with alternating days for a month and see if I can build up to every day after my initial month.

I will post again at the one month point.

I feel my skin is really responding well and, although it has only been 1 week, I think my skin is starting to look better even though I am flaking.

I am excited. Only 25 days into using and I am seeing improvement. Woo-Hoo!

I normally would not post this early in trying out something but I have been noticing improvement these last few days and I am very excited. First off, I still have not worked up to every day use. I am at every other day trying to build up tolerance. The flaking has subsided and my hormone pimples are much better they are actually ere today, gone tomorrow and not hanging around for a week. I have noticed a softening in my deeper wrinkles in my forehead. Actually one forehead line is totally gone! The lines around my mouth (though they were not deep) are softening. And, although I do not put the gel anywhere near my eye - Wow - improvement in the fine wrinkles on my left eye (right eye looks the same but I will take one eye over no eye. LOL). I had to take pictures to prove to myself I was not imagining things. So this morning after I washed and before I put on anything, I took some photos to see and compare to ones I took before I started using Atralin.

My 2 month up close and personal observations

It has been two months since I started and I am using it every night. I still have flaking by my mouth in the morning which goes away after my shower. I alternate my CoQ10 and Vitamin C serums for day wear and use a sunscreen either a 30 or a 50 depending upon how long I think I will be outdoors.

I do see the most improvement on my forehead and my left eye, although I do not put it close to my eye. The right eye hasn't seemed to have improved. I was starting to get light lines by my mouth and that shows a little improvement. My face feels soft but my pores aren't visibly smaller than last month. It has only been two months so I am not expecting the world.

The best thing is that people already are noticing. They say "You're glowing", "Wow, your skin looks great, what are you using." So I am very encouraged by my progress to say the least.

3 month point

At three months the areas of improvement still are my forehead and left eye. Other areas especially my right eye seem to have developed more fine lines. In a way I thought it might be the lighting in the before photo but that is what I have to go by with comparison. When you are documenting please take multiple photos of each area. This was my mistake. The area by my mouth is the driest and you can see that in the pictures. This is also where the bulk of my flaking occurs. I have been using a vitamin c serum/cream during the day with my sunscreen. I think I am going to try a hyluaronic acid cream like a Neutrogena Hydro Boost to see if it helps.

My before skin was very oily (so oily I had to blot every two hours while at work). As it stands today, I don't blot at all. My skin fells moist after putting on the C cream and stays moist but is not overly oily. I guess it is always an experiment with products that will work well with your particular skin.

Overall, I am happy. My skin feels softer although flaky and drier. I show my Realself friends the 100X close up under the microscope look but, in real life, people ask me what use on my skin and that my skin is looking awesome lately. So hopefully I will find the right combo so that my microscopic 100x pics for you show the awesome results everyone else sees with normal vision. LOL

4 months - I see improvement

Today I took some update photos. I always take them after my shower and before I put anything on my face.

My forehead is looking the best. The most degree of improvement is in this area. Although I am immensely pleased with the progress on the forehead, I have made an appointment with my PS for next week to discuss maybe some botox. I am considering the botox because I think it will boost the results of the retin-a on my forehead. I will update after my consultation.

My eyes. For the most part there has been good improvement on the undereye wrinkles on my left eye and even the right eye is starting to look better now.

My mouth. If I have any flaking, it is on my chin but also you will notice that I get whiteheads now on my chin. They are temporary as they pop and go away but this is a new thing this month. I don't notice my pores looking any smaller but my face does feel smoother and my make up goes on really well. A little foundation seems to go a long way so that is a good thing.

Additional products. I was using a natural CoQ10 serum and Vitamin C serum. These provided moisture but not as much as I would like. As I said my face before was extremely oily, so I really am uncomfortable with a dry feeling face. It almost makes me feel like its itchy. I started using Neutrogena Hydro Boost last month as my day moisturizer and everything has been really good with my skin - not dry or itchy anymore. I also use Aveno Protect and Hydrate for Face SPF 50 during the day. I use Neutrogena Natural moisturizing night cream every other night as well.

Frequency. I find my skin reacts best to an every other night treatment so far. So on nights that I do not apply the retin-a, I use the night cream I mentioned above.

Overall, so far so good. You know it took years for these appear and I don't expect them to lessen to any great degree overnight. But, I am happy with my results and the progress so far.

Update as promised - Did a Botox add on to my Retin-a regime

As I said last update, the results from the Retin-a in only 4 months on my forehead have been amazing. I felt that I was reaching a plateau though because of the muscle tension and thought maybe getting a light round of botox might add to the good the Retin-a seemed to be doing. Let me preface this by saying that originally I did not want to venture to botox at all. I am usually the one who will react badly to different things and, quite frankly, I was a bit concerned but I was at the point that I was ready to take a chance. I went to my PS, Dr. McNeel, and he recommended 8 small shots as we discussed I wanted to tread lightly. The shots were not painful at all. I had no numbing prior and didn't feel most of the shots. One out of eight, I felt a slight pinch a 1 on the pain scale. LOL I went home with no bruising, no bumps, no redness, no headache. I didn't see any visible results until Day 3. I have posted a picture showing my result after a week. It is wonderful and I am glad that I stretched out of my comfort zone and added that on.

5 Months and very happy with the improvement I am seeing

So it has been 5 months of using Atralin and I am very pleased with the results. My areas of concern were my forehead, around my eyes (eyelids and undereyes) and laugh lines. The improvement to my forehead was wonderful. As I said last review, I added a treatment of botox because I felt that the medicine would be able to work its magic better if the muscles in my forehead were more relaxed (I could actually feel where it was constricting) and it is working wonderfully. The lines are relaxed and getting softer and almost look nonexistent.

My eyes were beginning to concern me before I started using retin-a. The skin on the lids was very crepey and, to me, very noticeable. My eye makeup was not going on easy because of the texture of the lids and I love to line my uppers with liquid eyeliner and that looks really bad when the liner is choppy. Well at 5 months, I have begun to see improvement around my eyes. The crepey skin on the lids is getting much better. The fine lines in the undereye area are really improving. I am not putting the Atralin on the eye area itself but around the area. So I guess it also improves "nearby" areas.

My laugh lines although not a big concern were starting to appear and now they are starting to soften.

Overall, progress is awesome and I am glad I started my regime. I will post pics to show you.

7 Months and it's all good

I have reached the 7 month mark with using Retin-a.

At this point what are my observations? I would say:
1. The improvement of the crepey skin under my eyes and I have noticed improvement on the lids. This baffles me as I do not put the Atralin there at all. The closest it gets is the tear trough, my temple, and eyebrow. So I would say that the gel must absorb to nearby areas. It works for me and I am happy that it does.
2. The wrinkle situation on my forehead remains improved. Now, I did boost it with Botox in June but, according to my PS, the shot should be wearing off but I still do not see significant return so far.
3. My skin is now noticeably drier (even my scalp). For me having terribly oily skin all my life, it is nice to not have my foundation greasing up every 5 minutes. I don't even worry about blotting it. But this has caused me to make sure I alternate days between my retin-a at night and using the neutrogena naturals night cream. During the day, I find that I benefit from the neutrogena hydro boost and I put that on my eyelids as well so they don't feel dry and flaky.

Overall, this retin-a gel is wonderful. Why was I throwing away money on the OTC stuff? I am glad that I opened up my mouth at the dermatologist. It was time and if you are seeing changes in your skin that you are not happy with, maybe then it is time for you. I really feel that these past 7 months of use has literally erased the last 5 years of fine wrinkles and the crepey skin that was becoming evermore alarming. You know, crepey skin gets very wrinkly when you smile, so I started to hate to smile in pictures. Now I don't care because it has become a non-issue.
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