I started using Retin-A at the beginning of 2016. This post is purely to talk about my experience using Retin-A for coming up to three years.
I’ll briefly explain what it is. Retin-A is a brand name for tretinoin which has been approved for medical use, since 1967. It’s a medication used for the treatment of acne. It’s also considered to be the “gold standard” of anti-aging topical treatments.
It is thought to be effective on reversing the signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles; age spots; sagging; and dullness, by increasing collagen production deep within the skin. Because of this, Retin-A should be used along with sunscreen, daily.
My reasons for starting to use it was my skin was dull and lifeless. The usual symptoms of getting older, along with the menopause, was my reason to look for something that would help me.
Around this time, I decided to not only look at my skincare but my lifestyle as well. I felt unfit – both physically and mentally (my poor hubby!!) – that is probably a whole other blog post!
I had always exercised – but had let it slip – so I started again in a more routine way, which was not only good for me physically but mentally as well. I have a static bike and I put together my own exercise routine – incorporating weights and stretching. I have tried my best to stick to 3 times a week, but, like everyone else, I sometimes fall off the wagon and it takes will power to get back on the bike (literally)!! I’m not much of a social exerciser so the gym isn’t for me – though I am going to start yoga, in 2019. I also really enjoy going for country walks around our beautiful countryside.
Back then, when I was doing my research, I listened to women, who, said they hadn’t had any cosmetic work done, but their skin had a great glow. I wanted that ‘glow’. Whether that sounds shallow or not, I just wanted to improve my skin and look better.
So, what were other women around my age using which weren’t injectables but could improve the look and feel of my skin? Retin-A (retinoids) seemed to be the active ingredient mentioned time and time again,
So, I decided to give it a go – what did I have to lose? I understood it would be a long journey though, and, if there were to be any improvements it wouldn’t be overnight, and patience would be needed.
Retin-A must be used sparingly (pea size amount), nightly. There are side effects like peeling; redness; dryness; and irritation. So, I decided to start with the 0.05%, though there are lower strengths available. I was unable to buy it over the counter in the UK. So, over the years, I have either bought it in Europe, (or Mexico, on the occasional long-haul vacation), or, asked friends to bring me tubes of it back when they have been on holiday, or, visiting other countries. This has always kept my supply in check.
I know Differin (a retinoid known as Adapalene) is available to buy in the US over the counter.
Adapalene is, apparently, more tolerable to other topical prescription retinoids and gentler on your skin, while still effective. I haven’t tried it, preferring to keep on using the cream.
I started using Retin-A once a week for the first month, twice a week the second month, leading up to every day after approximately six months, always in the evening. In the beginning, I would wait until my face was completely dry following my night time cleansing routine. The skin is apparently more poress when wet. I would then apply a light serum followed a few minutes later by the Retin-A. Then, after about five minutes, I would apply a night time moisturiser.
At first, I applied the cream around my eyes avoiding the sides of my nostrils and around the mouth, as I had read these are very sensitive areas to be avoided at first.
I have since read that using a moisturiser following my application has probably helped transfer the cream to these areas from early on, breaking down the intensity. Using a serum before applying Retin-A and moisturising after, was beneficial to building up a tolerance to the cream in these sensitive areas.
During the first year and a half, I slowly built up to using it every night. But the slightest irritation and I would go back a step by dropping a day for a few weeks and so forth. This is probably why a lot of people give up using it, as it takes patience for your skin to acclimatise and adapt.
In my third year of use, I increased to the 0.1% strength and have been using that every other night, alternating with the 0,05% – my skin is still not ready to use the higher strength every night and seems good with the high/low application. I am slowly becoming acclimated to it. I do still get slight peeling and now I apply it directly to my under-eye area, but I still don’t apply it onto my eyelids or below the brow bone, I do, however, apply at the sides of my nose.
In my opinion, Retin-A has improved my skin. I did have a few age spots from the sunshine over the years on my cheeks – but they have faded slightly. I’m happy with the results and will probably use it, forever!
Don’t get me wrong, I still have lines and crow’s feet but, hey, I’m 58 years old and I don’t want to look way younger as I think that would look a little odd! I just want to look the best I can for my age and I’ll be happy with that.
I have read articles where women have said that their droopy eyelids have improved using Retin-A.
I have always naturally had a little bit of a hooded eyelid so I’m not sure about that, but I definitely get remarks from other people telling me my skin looks good. Mind you, a lot of sleep, a good diet and drinking lots of water contribute to that mostly – as well as not being overly stressed – that can take its toll on your skin, too
Going forward, and knowing I am now going to log the use of this cream, I will now take close-up photographs and I will monitor, on a yearly basis, especially as in a years’ time, I will be acclimatised to the full strength 0.1%, hopefully!
Thank you for your time and I hope you found the post helpful and informative!
Please leave a message if you have any questions.