Of course what I am referring to is topical Tretinoin. It is the acid form of vitamin A and it was originally developed to treat acne and keratosis pilaris, but since 1995 it has been FDA approved for use in reducing signs of aging caused by sun-damage. It is distributed as a cream or gel by brands like Retin-A and Renova and requires a prescription to get it. From now on, for the purpose of this blog post, I will refer to Tretinoin as Retin-A because that is what I am currently using as part of my skin care regimen.
Continued use of Retin-A increases collagen production in the dermis (the thick layer of living tissue below the epidermis that forms the true skin). It is commonly used to slow down skin aging and even reverse wrinkles and sun-spots.
To give you an idea of how well Retin-A works, I want to talk about my mom’s sister who is 70 years old BUT STILL HAS AMAZING SKIN. She uses Retin-A on her hands and has the softest plumpest baby-looking hands. Not what you would expect from a 70 year old.
Now look at this woman on the right. How old do you think she is? She has been using Retin-A for 13 years. And she is my mom. And. She. Is. 50. Her skin and my aunt’s skin–along with all the amazing testimonials you can find online–have inspired me to really take care of my skin and start using Retin-A. Not to mention all the scientific studies that prove Retin-A is the only topical medication that causes ACTUAL cellular improvements below the epidermis. I myself have been using it for close to a year now and I love it for clearing my acne and for giving my skin a plumped youthfulness that I noticed I was losing at 26. If you are serious about investing in your skin’s appearance now and for decades to come, I highly recommend asking your doctor about starting on Retin-A.
Unfortunately, one of the side effects of using Retin-A is redness and peeling and even breakouts within the first couple weeks of using it. This is because it unplugs acne follicles and brings pimples to the surface. Because of this, many people stop using it without getting past this purging period and they never get to see and feel the amazing effects of Retin-A. What happens is the Retin-A makes your skin layers renew at a faster rate–you can even say that it acts as a gradual chemical peel! After about 3 weeks of using Retin-a you might notice your skin clearer, brighter, more even-toned, firmer, and with less fine-lines and wrinkles. It can be used daily but some people prefer to start by using it every other day or every third day and slowly working up their tolerance.
Personally, I think anyone under 25 should just stick to wearing sunblock as a preventative measure. It’s when you are approaching 30 that your collagen production begins to break down so this is a great time to introduce Retin-A to your routine. And you don’t have to start early to see the benefits of Retin-A. If you are over 40 and think it’s too late to reverse any skin damage you have think again! Ask your doctor about getting your hands on some of this wonderful skin product.
Please note that if you do decide to start using Retin-A there are some precautions you must take:
- YOU MUST USE SUNSCREEN EVERY DAY!!!! I can’t emphasize this enough. Because Retin-A makes your skin more sensitive to sun light, it is easier for you to get a sun burn (which will cause more sun damage!!). Sunblock should be a part of everyone’s skin care regime anyway so this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Do NOT remove hair on your face by waxing. The wax will rip off the top layer of skin leaving the area red and inflamed for days.
- Only use Retin-A at night because sun light breaks down it’s effectiveness. A pea size amount will do.
- Wait 20 minutes after washing your face to apply Retin-A as it will cause less irritation if the skin is 100% dry and clean.
- You should avoid products with alcohol, menthol, spices, or lime as these ingredients can sting while you’re using Retin-A.
- Do not use AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids like glycolic acid, lactic acids, malic acids, citric acids and tartaric acid) or BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids like salicylic acid, tropic acid and trethocanic acid) at the same time that you use Retin-A as these are also exfoliants that can actually cancel out the effectiveness of either product when used together. However, you can use AHAs/BHAs if they are used at a different time than the Retin-A. Since Retin-A should only be used at night, I’d recommend using your AHAs/BHAs in the morning–and I would only do that once the skin has tolerated continued use of Retin-A.
- If your skin continues to be red and irritated after three weeks of Retin-A use try applying a moisturizer immediately afterwards. You can switch to using it every other day or every third day and still see the benefits on your skin. You may also opt for an over-the-counter retinol instead which is related to but not as effective as Retin-A.
Questions? Email Lola at email@example.com