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  1. #1

    Default Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    Any of my fellow Basenoters use Tretinoin or retinoid creams on their faces at night?

    I just started using Tretinoin on my face at night to help with my acne and skin texture. Now I see why they warn you against using drying cleansers. Since I have fairly oily skin, I've been using my regular blemish fighting cleanser, BHA, and benzoyl peroxide (and PLENTY OF SUNSCREEN!) during the day. You cannot concurrently use benzoyl peroxide and retinol, I guess that they interact badly or cancel each other out or something. Plus the drying effects of the two medications in tandem would be horrifying.

    Because it's so oily, my skin really needed the other acne interventions for the first couple of days of treatment. However, tonight it started catching up with me. My face is starting to flake slightly and feels tender, especially around my mouth. I'm going to take it really eaaaaasy for the next few days. I used a tiny dab (far less than pea-sized) of Tretinoin tonight, and I'll probably skip it entirely tomorrow to give my skin a rest. I think I was too zealous in my applications, and I think I was laying on more than the recommended pea-sized amount. Also, the other acne products I used were probably too drying, so I've gotta lay off that for the next few weeks at least. I also have to lay off the exfoliation, because retinol thins your skin and makes it more delicate. This is going to take some getting used to!

    They say you've gotta stick it out and keep soldiering on during the initial acclimatization period of using retinoids. Do any of you use Tretinoin on a regular, long term basis or can you stop using it after a while? How long did it take you to get results, are there certain pharma brands you'd recommend over others, do you have any great tips on how to maximize results while using them? I'd love to hear from people who loved retinoids and those who don't love them. I'm just curious to hear about other people's experiences with it (good and bad) since this is my first time using it.



  2. #2
    sameasalways's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I've used them for years. I stopped for a year because it started causing me to have a weird rosacea like reaction near my nose. But I still try to do it once in awhile. Absolutely you CAN'T use those products you are using w/it. The results you are seeing if you are using all of that are just the beginning. Your skin will start peeling off. And turn pinkish red. I would recommend you switch to cetaphil, drop all soap and AHA and benzoil peroxide. Be prepared for a skin breakout w/in the next six weeks. After that flare up things will start getting better. Or they should. You need to try it for about 2 months before giving up. Switch to using it every other day or every 3 days if needed. Use a good moisturizer w/sunscreen and no AHA's or peroxides in it. My skin at times got so bad I had to use Vaseline. Yes...I am not kidding. Otherwise, people would have to stare at dead skin peeling off my face. Ughgh. Good luck. Maybe not everyone has the same reaction as me. And yeah using more of the retina will only make the side effects WORSE, not make the acne better.
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    The first time I ever used it, after about 3 or 4 days, up to a week, my skin got so sensitive that for about 3 or 4 days I coudln't even let my face touch the pillowcase at night..because it felt exactly like sandpaper touching a sunburn.
    --------------------------------------
    Sorry keep remembering more. But really your Dr should have explained all this. You should not apply the retina w/in 30 minutes of washing your face. Anywhere there is moisture the retina is hydrophilic. And is attracted to the area. This is the reason you are told in the patient insert to not put it near your eyes or mouth or nares.
    --------------------------------------
    As you get used to it in about 3 months time you can play around a bit more but you will learn to quickly notice signs of irritation and back off at the first beginning. By the way the oil is not what causes acne it is bacteria getting trapped under pores. Retina tries to rush the sloughing process of the outer layer of skin to prevent anything from being able to build up under it. Acne is an inflammatory process..the body reacting to bacteria trapped under the skin and fighting a mini-war on it. There are plenty of people who have oily skin but no acne, and still plenty that have dry or combination skin that have acne, even in the normal or dry areas.
    --------------------------------------
    If you are concerned about oil and its "look" on your skin, start carrying blotting papers with you. Don't try to agitate it even more w/extra products.
    --------------------------------------
    sorry keep adding stuff. But think of a baby's skin. It's outer layer is thin and sensitive. You would never "exfoliate" a baby's skin. If you get my drift.
    Last edited by sameasalways; 1st January 2008 at 07:13 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
    Always remember you are unique; just like everyone else.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I used Tretinoin for a couple years and I finally took myself off of it about a month ago. I couldn't stand the dryness around the mouth that was mentioned and I still wasn't clear during stress or that-time-of-the-month. I was also on Minocycline (a pill), but that had weird side-effects and even with insurance it was $1 a pill daily.

    So, I switched back to over-the-counter 10% Benzoyl Peroxide for spot treatments and it's been alright. I guess/hope I'm finally starting to grow out of it.
    Last edited by bernat; 1st January 2008 at 07:56 PM.
    "Cleanliness and order are not matters of instinct; they are matters of education, and like most great things, you must cultivate a taste for them." Benjamin Disraeli

  4. #4

    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    Wow, such great information!! Thank you so much. And bernat...I'm 29 years old and still have acne. I think that some people do not grow out of it.

    Sameasalways, wonderful info. I will switch to Cetaphil. I've been applying the Tretinoin after drying my face, so I will wait 30 minutes and see if that helps. You're a doll, thank you for such a great post.
    Last edited by linnea; 1st January 2008 at 08:06 PM.



  5. #5
    sameasalways's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    your welcome ! I hope i helped. If this all fails, there are two things that have helped for me in the absence of RetinA (BTW I am 32 and have never outgrown acne..although when on the pill or pregnant my skin cleared up). The only other two skin care regimes that worked for me since I have combination skin and sensitive skin, are these two options (I promise I'm not trying to sell skin stuff..if I were I would advocate much more expensive products, LOL)...:

    Wash w/cetaphil
    Use TOPICAL clindamycin (it requires a prescription but its a better alternative than the systemic effects of an oral antibiotic and a lot less side effects).
    Apply 2% hydrogen peroxide the face...everywhere (not just where you are breaking out).
    Let all of that dry and moisturize w/whatever your fave moisturizer is.

    The other option I used when I ran out of my clindamycin while moving was:

    Wash w/cetaphil (the one for normal to oily skin not the original that is white/creamy/and non-lathering ..I forgot to mention to you that there are two different types of cleocin for washing).

    Then apply the stridex benzoyl peroxide wipes (they are individually wrapped little wipes and they come in a cardboard box) Not the easiest to find but usually they are at Walmart or Walgreens.

    Then after that dried, apply Oil of Olay total effects antiblemish moisturizer.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Tho se are the only two other methods that have worked for me...I still sometimes have a breakout or problems w/them and if it continues I have to switch up my routine...as in, I have to start using one of the other routines. Sometimes this is seasonal the change I notice. December and January/FEB, all the very late winter/early spring months seem worse for me. Not sure why??? maybe its the holiday stress? The other thing i've noticed is if my sugar intake is really high (i have a tendency to do that during holidays)..or premenstrually...my skin will react badly to it. Either way...Those give you some other ideas if the Retina doesn't work in the long run...or is too harsh. The topical clindamycin will or can for the first week cause some dryness/flaking but that is about it..it will quickly adjust to it whereas the Retina seems to take longer...
    Always remember you are unique; just like everyone else.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I had acne for years as an adult and tried many treatment combinations, including Retin-A. For a long time I used a combo of Retin-A once a day (before bed) and 500-750mg (2-3 pills) of tetracycline per day along with a mild cleanser/exfoliant in the mornings to remove the effects of the Retin-A. This worked fairly well (better than any other routine) for several years until the Retin-A took its toll on my skin and began to frequently burn me. Yes burn me. Areas on my neck and the sides of my nose began to frequently resemble sunburns that would eventually crack and peel, no matter the amount of moisturizer I applied. (By-the-way, DO NOT waste your money on Proactive)

    I found out a little late in the game that long-term antibiotic use (cyclines, etc.) can cause other serious and/or chronic problems because they don't just kill the bad bacteria, they also kill the good bacteria. Incidentally, I was once prescribed azithromycin for a resilient respiratory infection and my skin became clearer than it had been in years (temporarily). Azithromycin is a very strong antibiotic that is commonly prescribe for resistent bacterial infections. It is not prescribed for the treatment of acne.

    Anyways, when I could no longer tolerate the Retin-A, I switched to Differin Cream .1% (adapalene). It is similar to Retin-A in that it is a vitamin A derivative but it is much milder on the skin yet produces the same or possibly better results. It also happens to be cheaper. (use the cream, not the gel)

    I continued the Differin/tetracycline combo for a few more years until a couple years ago I decided that I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes, including my reliance on big pharma's poisons.

    I cut out all junk/fast-food, SUGAR, dairy, grains, and most fat from my diet. I eat only fresh veggies, fruits, (homemade probiotic soy) yogurt, nuts, and ocassional meats (I REALLY miss Doritos and Taco Bell ). I eat as little processed food as possible. And I run 3+ miles, 6 days a week. As for my skin specifically, in my morning shower, I use a mild, non-drying, non-soap exfoliant (Neutrogena Face Scrub for Men); after shower, I apply Complex15 moisturizer with a little tea tree oil (natural antimicrobial) mixed in. At night, I wash my face only with warm water and apply the moisturizer again.

    I'm not sure how much my diet has helped my acne specifically because I didn't try just going off the differin/tetracycline alone. But acne is an internal problem. If you're body cannot keep up with the expulsion of toxins and waste by the usual means (liver, kidneys, etc. --> intestines --> urine, bowel movements), it will resort to the additional use of the largest organ - your skin. This leads to excess sebum in your pores which harbors bacteria, inflaming the skin and causing acne. It cannot be cured or very effectively treated from the outside.

    Acne (and other skin conditions) is mostly a function of the body's inability to efficiently expel toxins and waste by other means. Stress (and consequently, hormone imbalance) is also an indirect cause because it lowers the body's immune system while at the same time, produces harmful chemicals (free radicals, etc.) that must be eliminated. Treat the cause of your problems, not the symptoms.

    One of the worst poisons for your body is refined sugar. Stop using it, period. Some natural and safe alternatives to sugar are eurithritol, xylitol, stevia, wheylow. Splenda and Equal are both man-made chemicals that are not safe either. The "pink stuff" - saccharin - has actually been around long enough and been through enough scrutiny that it is considered safer than the other two artificial sweeteners mentioned.

    Do some searching on the net (like Amazon.com) for books about eating to improve your skin. Contrary to what you have been told by corporate advertising and the US Gov't Inc. (and other gov'ts), dairy and grains are NOT good for you. Our digestive systems are not designed to use these substances efficiently. Yes they have nutritional value, but there are other foods that provide the same nutrients which our bodies ARE designed to use.

    Eat right (and I mean RIGHT, not just "better"), exercise, and learn how to deal effectively with or eliminate stress in your life. I know, believe me, this is easier said than done.

    Barring all of that though, keep your skin clean and moisturized. Use a mild exfoliant every day (containing non-abrasive beads and/or low percentage of fruit acids like alpha hydroxy). Use a clean washcloth any time you use one to wash your face and use a clean towel every time you dry it. And you're probably better off using Differin rather than Retin-A. If you do use Retin-A, it is still very important to exfoliate but you will have to be careful as to how aggressive (ingredients, frequency, etc.) you do it.


    Good luck!


    Disclaimer: I have no medical training and am not a certified expert regarding anything I just said above; it comes from experience and extensive personal research.
    Last edited by MadScientist; 1st January 2008 at 10:39 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I want to back everything Mad Scientist has said, and also add - if you are looking for natural, safe and even healthy acne specific treatments that have worked for many, try the following:

    Eat a couple of cloves of raw garlic before you go to bed. Garlic is excreted through the blood, through the skin and pores. It's an extremely strong germicide and fungicide. You can also squeeze fresh garlic juice and dilute it in water or lemon juice, and then apply this topically. At first, be on the safe side and go for heavy dilutions - as pure garlic juice can cause severe burns to the skin.

    Also, I suggest taking oregano oil internally. This is also another extremely effective anti-bacterial/anti-fungal agent. I never had acne on my face, but did have quite a few pimples on my upper back and shoulders, and since taking this every day they've all but vanished. I personally take this brand: http://www.vitacost.com/NSI-Oregano-Oil as this store has all of my other supplements, and that oil is high quality (standardized to 70% carvacrol, the active ingredient in the oil) and is also inexpensive. That bottle there will last me a year or so.

    Whatever you choose, I hope it works for you. I've got a friend dealing with acne and I know how much it sucks (and how much big Pharma's 'cures' can suck, too.)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I can appreciate all your suggestions, and I'm sure that modern lifestyle affects us deeply. There's not escaping the cloud of engineered substances that we come into contact with every day. There are a million things to worry about. Our water treatment systems can't filter out all the crap that we put into our bodies and then excrete into the municipal wastewater - I read something that was scary about declining male fertility and the estrogen that gets dumped into the water supply by women taking birth control. Not to mention the rivers of other pharmaceutical and illegal substances whose metabolites are excreted into the wastewater system every day, and we don't have specialized systems to clean them out of the water.

    Unless you can afford to buy organic, you're surrounded by additives, preservatives, and God knows what in your food. Unless you live on a small farm and raise your meat, dairy, and eggs yourself (or if you are Vegan, or if you're an omnivore who can afford to buy organic) you're exposed to unknown levels of hormones and antibiotics (and the animals are subjected to unspeakable cruelty) thanks to factory farming.

    While I commend you for your admirable lifestyle choices, I can say from personal experience that it didn't help my skin one iota. I was vegetarian for 14 years, and I was a hardcore vegan (90% raw) when I was younger for over a year, and rode my bike at least 10 miles a day, and yet it did not help my acne in the LEAST. I was a barista at a juice bar, and I was doing wheatgrass shots several times a week. I also tried the garlic trick, and it was TERRIBLE - I sweated garlic for 2 weeks after taking a chopped up raw clove of garlic. In fact, my acne actually worsened during my yearlong experiment with rawfoods veganism, and I remember being accosted by a woman in a health food store who admonished me to get a "colonic to help that terrible acne" and to put zinc oxide on the blemishes to help clear them up! Sorry lady, that is not my scene. I also took garlic supplements once daily until I thought I was having a heart attack from the stomach pain they gave me. I will not take colloidial silver, as that shit is snake oil "natural antibiotics" and will turn your skin permanently gray. Working in the natural foods industry really gave me some insight into our ideas about health and what natural means. In addition to working the juice bar (there are some crazy Howard Hughes types who would come in to get things like juiced Romaine lettuce and bitch that we didn't clean the juicer frequently enough), I also stocked vitamins, attended lots of classes, and had people come up and ask me bizarre questions that they should have been asking a physician, not some college kid getting paid $7 an hour to stock the damn vitamins.

    For my skin, taking birth control pills helps, as does using Paula's Choice BHA/benzoyl peroxide regimen. I'm hoping that the Tretinoin will help.
    Last edited by linnea; 2nd January 2008 at 01:52 AM.



  9. #9
    sameasalways's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retinol, Tretinoin, topical retinoids

    I have to agree. I have tried all sorts of dietary things and I am also a vegetarian for the past 7 months. I have long periods of time where I have been highly physically active...(which by the way, I found that lifting weights a lot increased my acne). I do believe there is time and place for natural remedies, but there is also a reason for the science, which often times begins by using these natural things. The birth control pill is highly effective at combating acne and I can explain that to you as well (btw I read the same stuff about the estrogens being dumped into the system because of it...but I think it is the least of our worries compared to the other things being dumped in this world). Your ovaries and to a small extent your adrenal glands are responsible for producing testosterone. Free testosterone that is unbound can and often does cause an increase in acne (one of the reasons teenagers are so infamous for having skin problems as their hormones are so erratic). The birth control pill shuts your ovaries down. You are no longer producing any hormones w/your ovaries due to this. The amount of estrogen and progesterone are supplements for the the fact that your ovaries are shut down and no longer producing this (because if you didn't have these hormones you would go into menapause) But they are also the reason your ovaries are shut down...thinking you are pregnant they know not to develop anymore follicles/eggs. So there...you no longer are producing testosterone via the ovaries. Your body can still produce some from your adrenal glands. However the high estrogen levels increase another hormone called SGBH and testosterone binds to that. When the free testosterone produced from the adrenal gland is floating around and encounters the high SGBH levels, then it becomes bound and your body no longer can use the testosterone.........thus a major decrease in acne once your ovaries are shut down. (BTW a frequent side effect of birth control pills is loss of libido........gee I wonder why???). However, Sometimes I have to resort to that method as well (like I said when I have the flare-ups). I do believe simple sugars can somewhat increase our likely hood for inflammatory reactions in our body, and since acne is an inflammatory state, by having high simple sugars in our diet, we make it more difficult for our body. But other than that, simple carbs are not the best because it means you are lowering your fiber intake, you are also increasing the speed at which your body has to react to the high sugar level, and release high amounts of insulin to counter it. Since the simple sugar is immediately released into the blood stream and the insulin comes to take care of it, your blood sugar drops lower than it did before and you feel weaker with less energy than before. sometimes even drowsy. (one of the major reasons that the whole "sugar makes kids hyper" wives tale doesn't hold true).

    As far as my opinion is concerned, benzoyl peroxide, REtina, Cleocyn (topical clindamycin), sometimes oral antibiotics or if severe acne then Accutane, and even birth control pills are PROVEN over and over again to drastically help with acne problems. I believe if all these cosmetics companys (the big department store brands....clinique, Elizebeth ARden, ect) were truly worth the dollars they charge the consumer than all the pharmaceutical companies would stop making these drugs as the production of these drugs would be a major loss of money for them. And I think we all know pharmaceuticals are all about making money. Over the counter drugs might work for some...and good that is awsome for them. But I am not one of them. BTW Differin is interesting. I have tried that as well and the first month it was like a MIRACLE. Then the next 2 months my skin began a full assault..it was horrid. For me, Differin was like a snake oil cure. Take care of your skin with RetinA...it does alter the skin and it can set you up for problems if you don't take care of it...like the poster above mentioned regarding the redness...similar thing to me (rosacea like). Also remember, no matter what you use, you will always likely have the occasional zit... But I know for myself I would much rather suffer that and deal with that then a face full of them..especially at my age. If REtina doesn't work or is too harsh you can try Differin. There is also a gell formulation of Retina that is supposed to be less harsh. And 3 different levels of REtina. At one point I was using the highest one daily...pretty harsh stuff
    Always remember you are unique; just like everyone else.

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