I will start incorporating Tretinoin back into my daily routine soon and I will definitely track my progress just as I did ages ago.
But for now, enjoy my earlier journey with this magical cream....
Disclaimer: Retin-A/Tretnoin is a Prescription Drug in some countries, luckily it is (still) an OTC drug where I live, although I haven't been prescribed with Retin-A for acne, it has been prescribed to me (repeatedly) for deep scar wounds by a licensed physician in the family. Please take my advise with a grain of salt. I will regularly update this post on new developments on my ongoing treatment.
What is Tretinoin / Retin-A?
Tretinoin (most commonly known as the brand Retin-A) is a derivative of Vitamin A and a first generation topical retinoid used to treat acne and photo-aging. Tretinoin irritates the skin and causes the cells of the skin to grow and die more rapidly, increasing the turnover of cells. Replacing the old cells quickly prevents the forming and growth of new pimples.
If you are trying to conceive, currently pregnant or breastfeeding do not attempt to use Retin-A. Vitamin A derivatives have been shown to cause birth defects, specifically oral medications like Isotretinoin / Accutane. Although studies have not shown a direct link between topical use of tretinoin and birth defects in children whose mothers have used tretinoin throughout the pregnancy, your child's health isn't worth risking over clear skin.
Where can I buy Tretinoin / Retin-A?
If you live in the U.S. you might need to see a dermatologist to get a prescription, however in the Philippines it is available Over-the-Counter at drugstores.
How much does Tretinoin / Retin-A cost?
It may cost you around $7 in the U.S. if it is covered by your insurance carrier and around $35-$50 if it isn't. In the Philippines it is available for $14-$16 (more or less ₱600) for a 25g tube.
How do I use Tretinoin / Retin-A?
Using a pea-sized amount of the product, apply a thin layer on your face right before bedtime. DO NOT USE MORE THAN ONCE A DAY.
Is there anything else I need to consider before starting the treatment?
A LOT. I have no intention of scaring anyone away but if you can't make the commitment of using Retin-A religiously everyday (or every other day), avoiding sun exposure as much as possible, using sunscreen, sleeping at least 6-8 hours a day and cleaning your face thoroughly, you might not get optimum results. The effectiveness of the treatment will depend greatly on the consistency of your daily regimen. I personally find the regimen to be very simple once you've found the right products for your skin, I agree that doing the aforementioned procedures on a daily basis can be quite a drag for someone who is very busy but... don't we all need to have a good night's rest with a freshly cleaned face? And doesn't prolonged sun exposure cause wrinkles, dark spots and even skin cancer? With or without Retin-A, these are things WE SHOULD ALL DO ON A DAILY BASIS. :)
If there is one thing that I practice and preach at the same time, it would definitely be on the topic of using sunscreen everyday. Tretinoin undergoes photo degradation under sunlight and fluorescent light, which is why the prime time for applying the treatment is right before bedtime. Also note that your face will be much more sensitive due to the exfoliation.
Look for a sunscreen that's broadspectrum, lightweight and apt for your sensitive skin. SPF 30 is most recommended for daily use as it gives ample sun protection without being too heavy. I use VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Face Cover 30 regularly, I occasionally use this underneath my makeup. On days that I stay at home or just run quick errands, I use L'Oreal UV Perfect SPF50 (which is a tinted moisturizer) or TFS Natural Sun Whitening Sunscreen SPF50. Why such a high SPF rating on days that I stay home rather than days when I go out? You'll find out in a bit.
The moment my skin started to flake, I stopped using liquid foundation. The brand I used had a very runny consistency and only gives light to medium coverage, after I had set makeup with powder, my faced looked like crocodile patterned material. Hideous. I tried to use another brand of foundation which worked well for me months before, but the moment I applied it onto my face I felt a stinging sensation that never went away even after I had finished applying it all over, I immediately washed my face. From then on out, I have only used BB cream for my face, doesn't matter which brand as long as it's Korean BB cream.
Not only Korean BB creams are less taxing for the skin, most of them have SPF 30+ protection.
My Tretinoin Timeline
Start Date: September 2, 2013
Day 3: Start of mild flaking.
Day 9: Irritated skin, mild redness and flaking. Mucous membranes should be avoided as much as possible when applying Retin-A. Since I sleep with my face buried in a pillow, my lips have also become dry.
Day 12: More flaking and actual peeling, as what happens to sunburns. Used Tretinoin on eyelids for the past 11 days, stopped applying on the area today.
Day 15: Massive pimple outbreak on the forehead.
Day 18: More pimples come out on different areas of the face. Two of which are cystic in size.
Day 28: Most pimples have dried out, flaking minimized and skin has become clearer.
Day 33: Mild flaking still visible but can be removed with physical exfoliant. Skin has become taut and supple.
Day 38: Skin can now pass for flawless with only BB cream! (Yay for the ladies :3)
Here's my bare face on a 'good day' using Tretinoin. Taken on the second month of treatment.
December 8, 2013: It took me 3 months to get fully accustomed to the treatment, it takes a while but is definitely worth it, flaky days are less and with my physical exfoliant and moisturizer the dead skin sloughs off easily. I still get pimple, practically the same frequency as I used to but they never grow bigger than the ones you can see on the picture taken on my 2nd month of treatment. What has been really easy for me now is pimple and blackhead extraction, the pores never clog up from dead skin cells, making this task such a breeze. The ginormous pores on the sides of my nose (the area right under the eyes) have decreased in size.
1. Facial scrub to slough off flaking skin - St. Ives
2. Praha Blossom Serum - Holika Holika
3. Praha Blossom Emulsion - Holika Holika
4. Liole Triple The Solution BB Cream / Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream
1. VMV Combination Skin Facial Scrub
2. VMV Know-it-Oil
3. VMV Illuminants Facial Wash
5. Any face mask