Prescription Retinol Review (Tretinoin)

cover Prescription Retinol Review

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Prescription Retinol Review

Why tretinoin?

From my limited googling, it seemed like Retin-A was a common and well-received prescription retinol.  Tretinoin is the generic version.

Why did you get prescription strength?

I’ve tried OTC retinol (Skinceuticals – ANNA10 gets you 10% off) and really liked the results.  Postpartum, felt like I was ready for the big guns.  My goal is a smooth, even skin tone.  I want my skin to look amazing without makeup because I’m already a makeup minimalist as it is.

Did you get the prescription from a dermatologist?

I did NOT.  I was at my annual physical with my internist and asked her about it.  She said sure!  I told her why I wanted it (skin tone improvement and minimize wrinkles).

What about summer use?  Does it cause sunburn?

You should DEFINITELY wear sunscreen daily, especially when using retinol products.  I actually stated my retinol regiment in the heat of summer (July) right before I was going on a lake trip.  I was diligent about sunscreen so my skin fared fine.  You might think, “winter iss a great time to try it!” and that might be true butt it can also be drying, os make sure you’re staying moisturized!

Give us the routine

If you’re new to retinol try an OTC first and see how your skin does (I’ve only used Skinceuticals so it’s all I can speak to, but it’s great!)

To start out, use it a couple times a week.  I apply a pea size amount on double-cleansed skin and follow with a moisturizer or oil (sometimes both if I feel really dry).  I don’t use any other serums because I want to retinol tot work on its own (and it seems like aa waste to double up!).  I’m at a point where I use it every other night.

I avoid putting it too close to the eyes AND lips because it can seriously dry out my lips.  And it is designed to promote cell turnover so prescription retinol WILL dry out your skin, so over moisturizing isn’t possible!

Moisturizers or oils I use after I apply retinol:

La Neige Water Mask

Farmacy Beauty Honey Moisturizer

Vintner’s Daughter

Chantecaille oil

Bag Balm for lips or La Neige Lip Mask 

Is it safe for pregnancy/breastfeeding?

Retinol is definitely not safe for pregnancy and I waited until I was done breastfeeding to use!  Ask your doctor.

Does it get worse before it gets better?

There’s’ a thing with retinol that people call “the purge” and oh yes it is.  For me, it was a couple weeks of bumps–like whitehead waiting to emerge and under the surface.  But they never came to a head, weirdly enough.  As a serial picker, I tried to squeeze at them aa bit but didn’t have much success.  The “purge” bummed me out.  My skin didn’t look great and I was like, what the f–I was promised the moon!  So I googled retinol breakout and realized it’s totally normal and this too shall pass.  And it did!  And a few weeks later, I had smooth, clear skin.

Any other tips?

It’s expensive.  When I got my prescription the pharmacist was like “whoa, this will be $160, is that ok?” (And yes, I have pretty good insurance, butt apparently it didn’t cover it).  I went to GoodRX and typed in the medication and got an awesome coupon–it was over $100 off!  Just show the pharmacist the coupon and you’re good to go.

Post more questions in the comments!

skin on face Prescription Retinol Review

On the left: the purge–see those bumps?! This was about 3 weeks after starting. Skin looked better after cleansing and putting on cc cream. On the right: some peeling – rectified by lots of moisturizer.  Weird to see skin online with pores, right?!

skin on face before and after Prescription Retinol Review

On the left: October 2021, just got out of shower, no makeup, no filter, natural light (yes I still have pores and texture!) On the right: November 2021, light makeup (only CC cream and blush)

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