woman touching her neck

Retin A and Anti-Aging Skincare

Taking care of your skin to look your best

The number one thing that women spend money on is beauty (not including food). We spend on hair care, manicures and pedicures, eyelash treatments, skincare, make up, gym memberships and more, with the bottom line being: We want to look our best.

Women want to look their best

As middle age began creeping closer and closer, I got serious about one way I could look my best, and that was with better skin care. In my early thirties I began to notice my peers aging differently. I met people that looked ten years younger and people that looked ten years older than their actual years, and the aging distinction was the quality of their skin. The people that looked older usually spent a lot of time in the sun without sunscreen and didn’t have a skin care regimen.

My initial thought on skin care was, if it cost more it must be the best, so I went with the recommendations from various med spas and used many high-end products. Some of the products were for wrinkles and firming, some were for discoloration, and some were just for the eye area. Nothing I tried treated my entire face for all elements of anti-aging.

Introduction To Retin-A

One day I was at my dermatologist office chatting with the aesthetician when she casually mentioned that regular Retin-A use was the overall best anti-aging product you can use on your skin. I was surprised she said this because they don’t sell Retin-A and, in my experience, they only promote products and procedures they sell. Not to mention, I had heard previously that Retin-A can be very drying to your skin. I wanted second opinions about Retin-A before I tried it, so I went to Google and what I found backed up her claim.

“There is so much historical evidence that this ingredient works better than anything else,” said Dr. Joel L. Cohen, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, “It actually works to remodel skin on a cellular level”. Anna Guanche, MD, a dermatologist in Calabasas, California, has been using it herself for 24 years. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single dermatologist who is not using Retin-A. It’s the most powerful anti-aging topical known to us at this time.” Mervyn Patterson, a cosmetic doctor at Woodford Medical says, “Retinol undoubtedly makes the skin smoother. You get a positive effect on collagen, that is definitely true. You get an increase of blood flow to the skin – there are lots of positive things that you can say about Retinol.”

You need a prescription for Retin-A, so I called my derm and was off to the pharmacy. My insurance didn’t cover the prescription, so my cost was $125.  I carefully read the pharmacist instructions and soon came to understand why this product isn’t promoted more widely in the beauty industry. There are a lot of “rules” in how you use this product properly.

There are a lot of “rules” in how you use this product properly

Rule number 1: Always apply Retin-A at nighttime, before bed time. Tretinoin, the active ingredient in Retin-A, breaks down in sunlight.

Rule number 2: Wait until your skin is completely dry after washing your face before you apply Retin-A. If you apply it to damp skin it’s more likely to have irritating side effects like redness and itching.

Rule number 3: A little goes a long way. Use only a “pea sized” portion for your entire face.

Rule number 4: Start out slowly. When you first begin with Retin-A, use it every third night for the first 2 weeks. Then every other night for the first couple of months until your skin adjusts.

Rule number 5: Never layer Retin-A with benzoyl peroxide and don’t apply it when you also have acid products on your skin like vitamin C, glycolic acid or salicylic acid.

In addition to the rules, my dermatologist gave my quite a few recommendations when using Retin-A.

Recommendations for the Rules

Recommendation number 1: Retin-A treated skin is very exfoliated so avoid getting your face waxed for hair removal or dermaplaned.

Recommendation number 2: Anyone who is pregnant or may be pregnant should not use

Recommendation number 3: Other procedures such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels, dermaplane, or laser therapy may not be compatible with Retin-A. Talk to your practitioner. They may want you to stop using Retin-A for a period of time before your procedure.

Recommendation number 4: After applying Retin-A, wait 45 minutes and apply a good moisturizer. You want to let the Retin-A penetrate for as long as possible before diluting its benefits with another product.

Recommendation number 5: Daily use of sunscreen is vitally important. My dermatologist stressed that if the Retin-A treated skin isn’t protected from the sun, it could cause more damage than to untreated skin. She recommended a mineral zinc oxide based sunscreen, as they offer the most protection.

What Makes Retin-A So Great?

before and after skin care with Retin A

So what is this wonder treatment? In short, Retin-A Tretinoin is a type of vitamin A best known for its ability to help refresh and renew skin. It causes increased cell turnover and increased collagen production in your skin. According to dermatologists, age and sun exposure break down collagen in the skin, making it loose elasticity and firmness, resulting in sagging and wrinkled skin. Retin-A is a preventative measure against this process.

Retin-A works by causing damage to the deepest layers of your skin, triggering cellular turnover. The new cells eventually surface, resulting in younger looking skin.  “It actually works to remodel skin on a cellular level,” said Dr. Joel L. Cohen, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado.

Retin-A is not only a super anti-aging treatment, it’s exfoliant quality primes the skin for better penetration of products used during the day. Jessica Verma, leading aesthetician at Azure Med Spa in Texas says, “I consider Retinol a “must have” for most skin care routines. It keeps the skin exfoliated thus allowing other products to penetrate more efficiently. It is not only helping your daily skincare products work better but allows fresh new cells to make their way to the surface giving your skin a healthy glow!”

Why does Retin-A have a Bad Rep?

Retin a can cause dry skinSo why aren’t more people using this wonder drug? Remember the rules and recommendations? If they aren’t followed to a T your skin can have a bad reaction, and sometimes even if they are closely followed your skin can have a bad reaction. Retin-A may actually make skin look worse, with redness, flakiness and peeling, for up to eight weeks. “But by 24 weeks, patients will see dramatic, marked improvements,” said Dr. Min-Wei Christine Lee, a dermatologist in Walnut Creek, Calif. Patience is key.

If you want to try Retin-A yourself, make an appointment with your local dermatologist. You will need a prescription, but she can also evaluate your skin to determine which concentration level will work best for you. Retin-A comes in three concentrations, .025%, .050% and .1%. Some people make the mistake of starting with a higher concentration, thinking they will get through the hard part faster, and quickly receive maximum results. This can be a recipe for disaster and make you want to quit using the product all together. It’s much better to work your way up from a low concentration.

My Results for Using Retin-A

Upon following all the rules and recommendations, the first week my skin was pink and flakey. It looked and felt like a mild sunburn. As I continued using Retin-A, I realized the importance of the “rules”, especially ‘a little goes a long way’. If you use to much, you’ll wake up with peeling, red skin. I also found that sunscreen is a must. Gradually I “got used to” the product, and I was able to get to where I can use it every night.

I’ve been using Retin-A every night for over a year and I can unequivocally say it’s the best anti-aging treatment on the market. My skin looks better now than it did 10 years ago, and I get compliments on it often. However, from time to time, when I wake up in the morning my skin will be flakey in spots. When this happens, I use a wash cloth to gently rub the flakes off. I have a fair complexion, so my skin looks pink after I rub the flakes away, but it’s easily concealed with make-up.

My 10 year UPDATE of continual use of Retin-A

I’m using .050% concentration on my face every night and I love the way my skin looks. I’m well into middle age and I haven’t had any lasers or skin tightening procedures, and I don’t see any signs of sagging skin (the dreaded jowls). I apply a very thick moisturizer after the Retin-A has settled into my skin to avoid redness and irritation. The number one thing I’ve learned after using this product for so long is NEVER get it on your eyelids. It will make your eyelids dry up like the Sahara Desert and age you 30 years. Then it takes weeks to get your eyelids back to normal. I still stand by this product as the best of the best in anti-aging.


Here are a few testimonials from MakeUpAlley.com from people who have used Retin-A.

Definitely recommend Retin-A Tretinoin cream for aging skin. First recommend use low-tretinoin consistency 0.025% and after go deeper with 0.05% and 0.1% creams and gels. My skin became more youthful, without pigmentation, brighter, wrinkles and fine lines became less visible and its only within first 2 months of usage, I’m pretty impressed! Thanks. Retin-A!

If you have the patience and can put up with some flaking and peeling, get this ASAP. It is a game changer for your skin.

This product helps to speed up the fading and healing of my acne scars. New scars peel away completely within a week. Old scars are more stubborn though but definitely faded significantly.