Sunday, 26 February 2012

My experience with Tretinoin and Isotretinoin treatments

I've been MIA from this blog for a while, as I finally decided to drastically address my hormonal acne with tretinoin (generic form of Retin-A) since October 2011.

Five months later, I can tell you I've gotten to know my skin better, and also the products I use, in terms of sensitivity.

Before I start with my experience, if you have concerns, its best to discuss this with your dermatologist. I am by no means a professional, but I'm hoping my 'journey' will help those of you in doubt on the effectiveness of the treatment and also share a few tips and tricks that helped me.

I started off my treatment 5 months ago, with 0.05 tretinoin cream, which also contained Hydroquinone that kinda helped calm down the redness.

I was using it every night as prescribed, 15-20 minutes after washing my face, and NOT followed by any other product.

Initial reaction:

First 4 days I experienced no side effects whatsoever, I could even use my regular skincare products without feeling any sense of discomfort.

HOWEVER... On the 5th day into the treatment, my skin started acting up really bad, flaking, burning and all that 'pleasant' stuff that comes with it. I must admit that at that point, I felt so tempted to just give up and go back to using my drugstore acne treatments every now and then, but since I was determined to go all the way, I didn't stop and I'm glad I didn't...

So for a while I had to live with my "Retin-A" face, as I like to call it... orange tint and tons of small flakes, which was pretty embarassing esp. when I was out, regardless of how much moisturizer I packed on! lol

Products I used:

Now here's another point I need to address.

I had to change all the products I was using prior to my treatment, as the level of "burning" I experienced, gave off warning signs on the quality of my skincare!

What you will definitely need is a good non pore-clogging moisturizer paired with a full spectrum sunscreen for the day. Trust me your skin will thank you! ^^

A product range I can recommend, and that is every single product in that range, as it is paraben-free, yes even their moisturizers for oilier skin types is La Roche Posay (especially their Redermic [+] cream which I initially used and Cleanance K which I am currently using).

And the second one, which is also paraben free and relatively skin-friendly, is Vichy (I used their products from the Aqualia line).

To cover up any redness and possibly flaking, the only make-up product I can recommend is BB cream. I used the "Magic" BB cream by Etude House, for oily skin, since it had the best coverage out of the ones I had.  

Also use a PH balanced soap to clean your face, since your face will probably not tolerate anything harsh until it gets used to the tretinoin.  

Oh and if you have a clarisonic... take it from me and let it rest for a while! My skin HATED it! :(

Duration of side-effects:

I think I was one of the "unlucky" ones, as my skin took forever to get used to the treatment. I was flaking every-single day for almost three months. PLUS, I experienced a ton of purging, but that's a good thing cause it really helped unclog my pores and everything.

My eyes and sides of my nose were also burning and itching big time, but I found a good way to prevent that half-way through the treatment, using Bepanthol ointment around the eye and nose area. 

It was a scary experience because I had no idea how my skin would end up... but also my last hope since I had literally tried every single topical treatment available.

But in the end, I can assure you that it paid off and I'm not going to stop using it every now and then, as it has a "regenerating" effect on your skin. 


Currently my face is clear enough to be able to get away with not wearing any make up or even BB cream on some days. I had the type of face that required a decent amount of coverage to get through the day, due to scarring. 

Current status is by no means flawless, but clearly improved with less discoloration AND sunspots.

I do get occasional breakouts but only when my hormones are off balance (i.e. testosterone levels are sky high), which happens occasionally, regardless of how religiously I take my prescribed medication.


Now that my skin is somewhat more tolerant to retinoids, I am regularly using topical isotretinoin gel, which is milder, almost on a daily basis, on evenings. This helps keep vicious breakouts at bay and seems to work fine for my skin, as long as I don't overdo it. (once a day is enough xD)

Paired with my sunscreen and a good moisturizing, anti-aging cream for the day, I'm good to go.

Make-up wise, let me tell you... once your skin clears up, you'll be able to realize what has been clogging your pores all the way. One of the products that broke me out the most was in fact, my too-faced bronzer, followed by my highlighter (strobe liquid ;____;), some of my bb-creams (esp. Skin 79 in pink packaging) and blushes.

So for the time being I'm using Physician's Formula products for bronzing and blushing (non comedogenic ones) and loving them! :)

Bottom line:

Is it worth the trouble?? My answer would be yes... especially if you've tried every single acne treatment on the book. If you haven't tried tretinoin, I recommend giving it a go.

If you find the side-effects unbearable, you could try using it gradually, like once every three days, and eventually you'll be able to tolerate it.

Anyway, I hope my experience was helpful for some of you and don't give up! :)


  1. Really good.. Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. For Acne Treatment & Improves Skin Texture, Acne Scar Treatment – Acne Scar Removal you can use tretinoin in another form as RETIN-A CREAM 0.05% 10g so can buy from this link over counter sale and many more item concern

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This is a great product if you can continue using it through the initial roughness. When I was using it I was pretty discouraged with the amount of peeling and acne actually became a little worse. But I am glad I didn’t stop as afterwards it made my face look great. It took about 4-5 months to see a real difference but it was worth it. Best acne product ever in my opinion. I managed to find some online at a good price and it’s the actual brand.

  5. found a UK site that sells it here:

  6. Many people are seen to suffer from a very common skin disease known as acne. Not only teenagers and aged people but even babies can get affected by acne. tretinoin

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  8. Nooo. I knew that my Too-Faced Bronzer was causing issues. My suspicions have been confirmed! I have been using tretinoin for about 2 weeks now and have been applying a moisturizer afterwards. I read somewhere that you shouldn't apply any products after, but I can't be sure. Thanks for your post. It gives me hope that the tretinoin will eventually help my skin. :)


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