Retin A Experience - San Antonio, TX

Hi Everyone, My name is Stephanie, I'm 27, and I...

Hi Everyone,
My name is Stephanie, I'm 27, and I began using Retin-A (Tretinoin Cream 0.025%) on March 14th. While at my physician's office we discussed my hormonal acne, and while I WAS taking a birth control pill to control the acne, the pill was having negative side effects on my body - so I discontinued using it. I asked my doctor about Retin-A because it was recommended to me by a friend.
I had never had hormonal acne until after the birth of my daughter in 2011, and over the years it seemed to be getting worse.

The first night I applied it to my face I had just a few blemishes, mainly on my hairline and forehead. Eight days after beginning the application of Retin-A (I had only applied it three times) and my face was purging. I had at least 20 blemishes all on my forehead and around my nose and chin. I noticed dozens of small bumps under the skin forming, but they weren't the pop-able type, and yes, I am a picker. I was having one or two pimples surface every single day since I began the first application, and although it bothered me, I knew what I was getting into before I started- so I dealt with it by rarely leaving my house, and mainly just sucking it up. My makeup (foundation and concealer) wouldn't even cover the blemishes up. My makeup went on like it was wet paint, leaving streaks and splotches. My skin was also peeling all around my mouth, nose, and chin. I was exfoliating, and while that helped remove the dead skin, it made my face too raw.

My fourth application was horrible. I applied too much. (not purposefully, too much came out of the tube and I didn't want to waste it) Worst idea ever! Afterwards my skin felt like it was on fire - turning my pale skin a bright red. The next day my face was the worst I've ever seen it. It was red, tender, flaky, and my pimples were bright red and bulging. I didn't have too much acne scaring but even those small spots were bright red and very noticeable now.

I knew that I needed to slow down. Even though I had only applied it four times, and was skipping days in-between applications, my face was beaten up.

It took exactly four days for my face to be flake and red free. During that waiting period I ordered a bottle of Cetaphil face wash and moisturizer (with SPF 30) from Amazon, a bottle of Vitamin C serum with Hyaluronic Acid & also a night recovery cream.

I applied the Retin-A again, this time washing my face beforehand with the Cetaphil, applying the serum, and then the night recovery cream. (before I was using harsher stuff) I waited half an hour and then applied less than a pea size amount of the Retin-A cream, making sure to massage and distribute it EVERYwhere so there would only be a very thin layer. The next morning I woke up and washed my face and applied a moisturizer. I had no redness, no peeling, and at one point I looked in the mirror and thought "Wow! My skin looks so much better!" I couldn't believe what that one application had done.

Of course, I had already done this before - applying it with no negative results only to be fooled later on. So I applied it again a few days later, waiting for my face to look like a lobster or a snake shedding, and once again nothing happened. My concoction and routine had worked!

Fast forward to today. It's been exactly 2 weeks and 3 days since I began the cream. I have zero new blemishes, although i'm waiting to see if there will be more next month - since I do get hormonal acne. It seems for now the purge is over. I haven't noticed anything that different about my skin, if anything I'm not happy with the tiny pumps across my forehead that weren't there before. I still have spots/scars from the new 20+ pimples, but I can now apply makeup and it goes on normally, covering them up.

I am hoping that the Retin-A will eventually help dissipate the bumps and even out the texture of my face again, help fade the acne scars, unclog pores, and *fingers crossed* help diminish a few wrinkles. Is that too much to ask? Probably, but I have hope - for now.

I have added a couple of photos, to show the small bumps and acne scars across my forehead. My face is a bit shiny from the moisturizer I put on right before the photos. I don't have oily skin whatsoever. Also that forehead wrinkle. Man, I hate that ugly thing.

Until my next update! -Stephanie

I knew that was too easy!

I'm back, with another update to let you all know that the worst part of it is not over yet. It's getting worse.

I've noticed that I have heavier more noticeable lines/creases under my eyes and all around my mouth. I am certain they were never this bad before.

I am getting several more blemishes. I'm not too familiar with acne terms, but most of them are these small pink bumps without the white (pus) head but they still have thick white stuff inside of them. I have a pimple forming under my nose that is painful and is slowly bulging out from under the skin. My pores are appearing to be much larger, especially on my cheeks, nose, and under my nose and I think everything inside of them is surfacing because they actually look like blackheads up close now. Yuck! I have no idea how to get these out, or if the medication will slowly make them come out on their own. I've never had blackheads before- just whiteheads.

I have a small tear under my left eye that is painful if I wash it. I've never had sensitive skin, but it seems now I can't use my Clarisonic under either of my eyes, which sucks for the days I wear makeup and need to take my mascara off. It also stings to apply anything, including moisturizer under both of my eyes - even though I haven't used the Retin-a in several days.

I can see small flakes of dead skin when I wear makeup. They're there when I don't have make up on, obviously, but definitely stands out more with it on. Especially on the tip of my nose. Clarisonic doesn't seem to help with this. It seems exfoliating removes the dead skin, and replaces it with new patches of it in other places. I've attached photos. Not happy with this progress, but I have no functions to attend for the next week so it could be worse.

One Month Update

It's been 31 days since I began treatment so I thought I would give an update.
When I look back at photos of myself before I began Retin-a, my face looked so much better in the before photos. Sure, once a month I had a few blemishes pop up and within a week or so they would disappear until the next month and it bothered me, but the cream I've been applying has managed to send my face into complete chaos on occasion, leaving behind tons of new scars and bumps, and highlighting the previous acne scars that weren't very visible before. My pores became larger, and my laugh lines and fine lines are more noticeable. I went from having one wrinkle under each lash lines- to three, and now I have small crows feet, which makes me feel older than I am. I know I should seem highly disappointed with the results, but I for one am not a quitter. I know there's a reason this product has had so much success, and it's because those people stuck it out long enough to see those positive results.

So, I've listened to your advice, and I've retired my Clarisonic/Mia 2. I have been using a simple wash cloth along with the products in the attached photo. As of now, I don't have any new blemishes, just ones i'm still waiting to heal. The last pimple I had laid burrowed under my skin for 2 weeks and then this morning it finally came to a head. It seems like most of the acne clears up faster too. The small bumps along my forehead are disappearing. My pores, although still large, seem to be clearing up. At times it's hard to tell because I have freckles along my nose, and cheeks.

The lines along my mouth, eyes, and forehead are still there, but amazingly enough after washing my face the other day I noticed a piece of dead skin under my right eye and I carefully plucked it off. It literally took a wrinkle with it! So now i'm down to two lines under one eye. My nose and chin used to get clogged on a daily basis, and now I literally have to squeeze to get anything out of my pores, but I can't even do that because my skin is very sensitive now. My skin still peels on occasion, usually the day after I've applied the medication, but it's peeling mainly around the circumference of acne sores, and scars. Also my fingertips have been peeling like crazy, which I find amusing. After I wash my face I take a half a dropper and fill it with the Vitamin C liquid, and rub my hands (top and bottoms) thoroughly before applying the remaining liquid from the bottom of my hands, onto my face. The top of my hands look so much younger and are so soft now.

I've attached a few photos of myself this morning after I washed my face off. I notice for some reason my phone doesn't really capture how my face really looks, how bad it actually is. Like it has a "softening" effect, or something. It just doesn't capture the large pores or uneven skin tone that I see when I look closely in the mirror.. I rarely ever take photos without makeup, not just because of my skin but because I lost the majority of my eyebrows because when I waxed them years ago and it ripped my skin, forming scabs and basically ruined the hair follicle. So yeah.. It's taken basically all the courage I have to actually post these photos of myself. I've always been self conscience about my face and although I listed many goals in a previous post, the one thing I truly want is to be able to look in the mirror and feel confidence again.

It seems I can tolerate applying it now, and think that I'm going to start trying to apply it every other night now for a few weeks, and then every night.. and if I still don't have crazy side effects (like in the beginning), I will ask my doctor to increase the strength.

Until my next update
XOXO, Stephanie

PS: Thank you all for the support and advice!

Never expected this.

For the absolutely first time in about 10 years, my eyebrows are growing back. Just adding a few photos I've taken over the past week.

Quick Update

I was going to send this as a reply to a comment, but I decided over half way through that I should just use it as an update.

So, as I said in my very first post: Hormonal acne is the reason I started using this product. Almost two years ago I was having health issues. Issues not even related to my hormones, but my doctor had a very extensive blood panel done and according to lab results my hormone levels fall into the "normal" region. So, I took the first option she offered me, birth control, to help control the break outs. It worked for what I wanted it to, however it was basically like chemical castration for me, and it was either stop taking the pill or end up in divorce court. So I stopped taking it and about two months later ended up at my doctors asking her about this product. So no, I haven't tried anything else really for the acne. I've been asked that by a few different people now. I mean, I've bought into all the over the counter creams and gels with absolutely no results, but other than that, this is the first prescription product I've tried for it (aside from the birth control). I don't have any intentions on switching products right now or anytime soon. I mean, I went through hell with this stuff and I'm finally at a point where I'm okay with leaving the house without makeup on again. I'm seeing results, I think. The real test was this week. This week I finally got my period again for the first time since early March. My period just kind of does whatever the hell it wants, so when the first pimple popped up I knew it was coming.

So the last period I had, I had a major breakout. 10 or so pimples (the ones that are like volcanoes basically, can we rename them to that? Volcano pimples. They start off under the skin and then grow into this big mountain on your face) So anyways, this time around I only had 3 of them. One of them came to a head really quickly and I accidentally (I'm really trying to stop picking) popped it when I was scratching my forehead. It normally takes a week or so for them to actually come to a head, so when this one only took a day I was astonished. The second one is still under the skin. It just feels like a little knot under the skin, and it's getting smaller. I have a feeling it's not even going to come to a head, because it's just shrinking and is no longer painful to touch. The third one is on the bridge of my nose and has yet to form anything.

I've been applying it (retin-a) nightly to my face. I don't have any side effects except the peeling, which I don't mind. A wet rag takes it right off. I've stopped using anything with it - no more moisturizers beforehand. Just straight to the skin half an hour after washing my face. I feel like it's helped in some ways, but my pores still are clogged and even worse now that I don't use my clarisonic. I haven't been using makeup very often either, so i't not sure why they're getting so clogged. I bought one of those pimple popper thingys off Amazon.. and it helps to get lots of gunk out of my pores. Anyways, that's my update so far. I'm going to post a photo I took the other day without any makeup on and a photo of my breakout.


Took a break from using this because I knew I was going to be out in the sun a lot. Side note: I've been using my tanning bed every now and then with a thick towel over my face and have had no problems, but I don't trust the TX sun even with SPF. So anyways, I started my regimen again 3 days ago. So far so good. Have had very minimal break outs (even though I got my "friend" AGAIN for the second time this month) As soon as I got "it" I started applying the cream again. Totally forgot about it honestly; I was just enjoying my clear skin. Will update in a few weeks or if/when anything new happens. XOXO - Stephanie

Update 9/16

It seems this medicine is not working at all with my hormonal acne. I apply it nightly and my face will temporarily look better, right up until my period starts again, and then it's worse each month. It since has moved from mainly the forehead region (when I first started applying) to all along my jawline, my neck, my hairline including the back of my neck, my chest, and my back now as well. I have never had body acne or acne on my neck or jawline.. so I am very confused. Absolutely nothing comes out of the pimples, but they just itch A LOT. I thought the first time it might be something biting me, but they come up every month like clockwork- and then take weeks to heal. I have an appointment Thursday with my doctor. Thinking about going on the pill once again because my self esteem just cannot take this anymore and it was the only thing that helped. I'm embarrassed to go anywhere or be around anyone and it's causing me to be depressed.


Alright so I'm back! I went to my doctors, but was waiting for blood results before updating on here. I have good news and bad news. The good news is my hormone levels all fall into the "normal" range. The bad news is, I can't figure out why i'm having this painful acne pop up right before menstruation. I figured it had to be hormonal, but I don't know now.. and honestly i'm tired of battling it, as it's leaving my face covered in scars. So she's agreed to put me on the pill at my request. The day after I saw her I started asking a few friends about PCOS (just in case) and one person recommended a few things. Zinc, Milk Thistle, and Flaxseed. Well I already had Zinc in my medicine cabinet as my husband takes it, so I thought I would give it a shot. So far it's helped clear up everything, with the exception that on two occasions I had a pimple pop up from a clogged pore (the acne I have during that time of the month was not from clogged pores as nothing came out of them) - but they've been really tiny and have gone away fast. I didn't want to take all three things my friend recommended at once because if my body doesn't agree with one of them, I want to know which one it is. I haven't started taking the pill yet. The pharmacy wanted $60 for one month supply of Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo, so I had to ask them to call the doctor for a generic version. Also, I am still using Retin-A, only I have finally finished my first tube and have went up to the .05% now.
Dora Garcia

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