Topical Retin A – The Holy Grail of Anti-Aging

Retin A youthful skin
Photo taken on Christmas morning with no makeup

I get a lot of questions about why I look younger than my age.   What products do I use?  What’s my skin care routine?  What foundation do I wear?  Who is my cosmetic surgeon?  To be honest, all these things matter and factor into the equation as do genetics but there is one thing that I believe makes the biggest difference when it comes to anti-aging.  Many of you are going to cringe but here it is:  Tretinoin (AKA Retin A).  This is my secret and I know you just threw a virtual tomato at me but let’s discuss it first, ok?

I spend 15 minutes in the morning and 20-30 minutes in the evening taking care of my skin using different masks, creams, and treatments.  So, yes, I use and test a lot of different products.  No matter what I’m using, there is one thing that is always a constant in my skin care routine and that’s Retin A cream.  Retin-A (tretinoin) is a form of vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself.  This product is your best bet to maintaining youthful skin and it’s success is backed by many years of research.  I know you may have tried it and it has probably irritated your skin.  Maybe it burned your skin and made you peel?  If that’s the case, you’re not alone and if you gave up on it you’re not alone.  I did too, several times.  However, nothing has had a more positive impact on my skin or come more highly recommended to me by more doctors.  As a matter of fact, during 2015, I saw three dermatologists and two cosmetic surgeons seeking new progressive advice and every single one of them pointed me to Retin A.  I’m not exaggerating.  Five professionals last year told me that is the best non-invasive recommendation they could offer for anti-aging.

What does Retin A do for your skin?

Retin A has been around since the 1960s and there is extensive scientific research and clinical studies that have been conducted with the product.  Retin A is the most common brand but the actual medication is Tretinoin. These are the benefits claimed from using Tretinoin according to Drugs.com and various dermatologists and medical sources:

  • Reduces, reverses, and prevents wrinkles.  The younger you begin using it, the greater the benefits.
  • Lightens and prevents mottled skin (age spots).
  • Promotes building of collagen to thicken and increase the structural strength of treated skin.
  • Smooths rough skin and helps reduce size of pores.
  • Decreases risk of developing skin cancer on treated areas.
  • Reduces and treats acne.
Tretinoin Cream Retin A
My current and well used tube of Tretinoin .05%

Tips to minimize side negative side effects of using Retin A

  • Obtain a prescription from your doctor for the medication.  Discuss other skin care products you are using that may have ingredients that could exacerbate negative side effects. (Glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide are products that can cause irritation if combined with Retin A).
  • Apply only at bedtime.  The sun breaks down the product and can cause irritation and skin damage.
  • Apply to dry skin.  After cleansing, wait 15-20 minutes before applying Retin A.  It is more likely to cause irritation if applied to moist skin.
  • Apply a very small amount (size of a pea) and begin using two or three times per week.  Do not increase frequency until you build up tolerance to the product.
  • If skin peels or becomes warm, scaly, or irritated check in with your doctor but it’s likely normal.  I know, this part really sucks.  Just slow down the use until your skin returns to normal and start up again slowly.
  • If after several weeks of slowly increasing the frequency of using the product still causes redness and irritation, request a non-irritating cleanser or face cream from your doctor to help soothe your skin.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes for the product to be fully absorbed and use a non-irritating high quality moisturizer to help avoid your skin from getting dry.
  • Do not wax treated skin.  I’ve done this and I’ve suffered.
  • Always use sunscreen.  Products with zinc oxide are very good sunscreens and should always be worn on treated skin.

Retinol based products are available over the counter and are not as powerful as Retin A but anything with Tretinoin is not advised during pregnancy.  It’s best when making any changes to your skin care routine to seek advice from your doctor.

How am I using Retin A in my skin care routine?

All the pointers I’ve given above are exactly how I go about using Retin A.  It took me over a month to get to a point where the product no longer made my skin red and flakey.  At times, my skin felt warm when I woke up in the morning and I’d look in the mirror and my skin was red.  Super unpleasant!  Each time I experienced the side effects, I would wait several days before I used the product again.  Finally,  the side effects went away.  You just have to be patient and stick with it.  Now, even if I was to apply a liberal amount of the product, I won’t experience any redness or irritation.  It took a while and some ugly flakey skin but I got there and you can too!

I am able to apply the product without irritation right up to my lower lash line where the skin is very delicate.  It has made a huge difference in the skin texture underneath my eyes and my skin is very smooth.  I apply glycolic acid and vitamin C in the morning with a moisturizer.  At night, I apply Retin A and Cellex-C followed by an eye cream and moisturizer.  Cellex-C can also cause irritation so to be able to use it with Retin-A took time and patience.  I experienced redness for a couple of days when I started the Cellex-C but I just kept backing off until I adjusted.

Cellex-C Advanced-C Skin Tightening Cream

So, there you have it.  This is what I believe is my biggest secret that I can share with you for anti-aging.  Retin A is not something you are necessarily going to see a difference after using a couple of weeks but over several months and years, the benefits are profound.  If you have tried and given up on it, it’s worth trying again.

Tretinoin Cream

Youthful Skin Retin A treatment
Untouched photo wearing makeup

Are you using Retin A today and have any other tips on how to get through the rough initial period?  I know it can be tough but good things don’t come easy!

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8 thoughts on “Topical Retin A – The Holy Grail of Anti-Aging

    1. Congratulations! It one of the most proven things for anti-aging. If you get red or flakey, just slow down a few downs and keep going. Most people stop because of that but you will adjust and over the long term I’m convinced there are profound benefits. Thank you so much for the compliment on my skin! Much love to you and Happy New Year! xoxo

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