My Experience Using Retin-A

Retin-A My Skin Care Journey

Retin-A My Skin Care Journey

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.

Retin-A - My Skincare Journey

Retin-A – My Skincare Journey

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.

Alison xx


  1. 7 January 2019 / 12:39 am

    Interesting. I haven’t used this before and now I want to. I can’t have Botox due to allergies that I have and I do have sensitive skin, so I would have to be careful. I had radio frequency last year which gave good results. There’s a post about it if you’re interested and a vlog. I would definitely have that again. Happy new year xx

    • 7 January 2019 / 5:02 pm

      Thank you for that tip I’m always on the look out for new things to try – I haven’t heard of radio frequency before. If you try the Retin-A go for a low strength, building it up slowly – I have been using it for three years and still not on the 0.1% everyday.
      Happy new year to you too!! xx

  2. Anna at Muttonstyle
    8 January 2019 / 2:31 pm

    Very interesting being a UK resident too. I think practically the issue for us is stocking up enough from travels to be able to stick with the commitment. I didn’t know it was available in Europe. I wonder what the shelf life is if I bought a few on a European trip.

    Anna at Muttonstyle

    • 9 January 2019 / 1:28 pm

      Hi Anna,
      I have bought from both Mexico and Spain and the ‘use by’ date is usually 1-2 years, so plenty of time before it becomes unusable, I would check when buying. I find a tube will last for a good while as you only need a tiny amount. As I alternate between the 0.5 and 0.1% it can last a year depending on the amount in the tube. I usually pay around 20 Euros in Spain and the name is Retirides – I always buy the cream as I personally prefer that, I know some people like the gel. If you have any more questions let me know.
      Alison xx

  3. 22 January 2019 / 11:01 pm

    Thanks for this article. I just found you on IG and you’re the only other woman I’ve known who uses retin a. I’ve had it for years although not in as disciplined a fashion. You’ve motivated me!!!

    • 22 January 2019 / 11:31 pm

      Thanks so much. I’m new to Instagram (my only social network outlet) and only started my blog around August, so I’m a real newbie, all round. I have had satisfactory results with Retin-A, and you will know, it’s a long journey getting used to it. The main thing in the UK, of course, is getting your hands on a tube! It is a tedious journey and I’m still not using full strength 0.01% every day – but I will monitor my journey as I have just bought a new lens for my camera and will be able to take close shots – this may frighten people, though!

      If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      Many thanks
      Alison x

  4. 9 March 2019 / 4:12 pm

    Good to hear your experience! I use retin A too, and have been for about a year 1/2. I used to have melasma, or some brown patches on my skin from BC, and the retin a has elimated that. It is great you were able to get it over the counter.
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx

    • 10 March 2019 / 12:08 pm

      I had a few sun spots on my cheeks and they have gone now. It’s really effective – it does take a while for your skin to adapt though.
      Thank you
      Alison x

  5. 10 March 2019 / 9:36 am

    Alison thank you for commenting on my blog and I am glad because I have enjoyed reading this post and learning about your experience. You look amazing and your skin is fabulous.

    • 10 March 2019 / 12:03 pm

      Thank you Hilda. I’m very happy you enjoyed reading my post. The Retin-A journey is a long one that’s for sure.
      Alison x

  6. 13 March 2019 / 11:48 pm

    Interesting post! I would definitely consider using it if I could get it here in the UK. Thanks for linking up!

    Emma xxx

    • 14 March 2019 / 10:45 am

      You’re welcome!
      I know, that is the down side of using this – I tend to either stock up when I’m abroad, or ask friends to get it for me.
      Alison xxx

  7. 19 March 2019 / 9:41 pm

    Great information, thanks so much for sharing on #chicandstylish with me. Have a super week. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • 21 March 2019 / 3:02 pm

      Thank you Jacqui. Retin-A can be tricky to get used to – but worth it!
      Have a good week!

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    • 23 March 2019 / 1:23 pm

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