I started using Tretinoin cream, generic for Retin A, on April 18. I followed advice I found researching the topic online. My number one source of information was Angie at HotandFlashy on You Tube: https://youtu.be/O4rSaLZ8e-Q . She has some really good information. I also read blogs and posts from a lot of different sources.For some basic information about tretinoin see these posts – Tretinoin / Retin-A Cheat Sheet and Tretinoin (Retin A). I had a plan in mind of how best to introduce tretinoin into my nighttime routine.
Your experience with Tretinoin may be very different from mine. Different skin types will react differently and the seasons probably play a role as well. Most of us have dryer skin in the winter months. Even though I am 52 I still have normal/oily skin. My face is almost always shiny at the end of the day. Only in the winter do I get any less than normal skin. My skin is not particularly sensitive either.
I was prescribed .05% tretinion cream. My initial plan was to apply tretinoin once a week for 2 weeks or so. If that went well I would step it up to twice a week for a week or so. I removed my makeup with DIY micellar water and a microfiber cloth. I then washed my face with Purity by Philosophy and a Clarisonic face brush. To read more about my nighttime cleansing routine see this post Nighttime Double Cleanse Routine . I applied a pea-sized amount about an hour after washing my face. You should always wait 15 – 30 minutes after washing to apply. This is because damp skin is more absorbent and it may be too much for your skin. I felt slight stinging on my cheeks and around my nose and mouth after application. Then I waited another hour and applied a hyaluronic acid serum, an eye cream, and a moisturizer.
The next morning my face looked fine. It wasn’t red and I saw no flaking or dryness. I washed my face in the shower with Clinique Mild Facial Cleanser. I used Timeless Vitamin C +Viatmin E & Ferulic Acid serum and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel moisturizer followed by a high SPF sunscreen. You can read about my search for the perfect sunscreen My Take on Sunscreen – Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen and My Take on Sunscreen: Equate Sunscreen Face Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (Generic for Cerave Sunscreen Face Lotion) and My Take on Sunscreen: Coppertone Oil-Free Faces SPF 50+. Since I had experienced no negative effects (and because I have no patience) I decided to use tretinoin again 3 days later rather than use it once a week in the beginning. So much for my well thought out plan!
So, three nights later I applied tretinoin again. I followed the same procedure I had the first night. I waited an hour after washing my face to apply it and then waited an hour to apply my other products. I had no redness, irritation, dryness, or stinging this time either. The next morning my face looked and felt fine. Long story short, I ended up using Tretinoin three times that week the first week and went to daily the following week. During that time I had no flaking, peeling, or excess drying.
Three days into daily use I had the first flaking. It was around my mouth and eyes and was very minimal. My face was continuing to look shiny by the end of the day so I was not experiencing excessive drying. For the next two mornings, my face was fine with no flaking. So I decided that I could start applying it right after washing rather than waiting for my face to dry completely. I just assumed that because my face had tolerated it so well to this point that I needed to make it a bit stronger.
That is about the time that I started to experience flaking more days than not. I t was around my mouth, my nose, my eyes, and the area between my eyes and my nose. I used exfoliation in the morning – either a scrub or a konjac sponge. To learn more about Konjac sponges see this post 5 Faves in July. I could not always see the flaky areas until I put on my sunscreen and / or my foundation. Then it would look like my skin was just rolling up. It made it so hard to apply foundation because it looked so patchy.
I continued to use it daily, though. The flakiness was better some days than others and I tried various means to reduce it. I was also seeing good changes in my face. It felt firmer and softer. I did have a glow that I had never seen before this. During this time I made adjustments to my day and night routines to try and see what worked and what did not.
On July 8, at almost the 3-month mark, I took a two-week break from Tretinoin. That was the week before my vacation at the beach in South Carolina. The research I had done suggested that you stop a week before a vacation in the sun to minimize sunburn and sun damage. I planned to resume use as soon as I got back.