Skincare Sunday – Retinoids

Happy Sunday, everyone! I am actually blogging on a Sunday. It’s crazy, right? I actually decided to start a weekly series and post every Sunday. I get a lot of questions about skincare, and it is a subject that I feel pretty passionately about. I’ve done a ton of research and I have going to the same dermatologist since I was a young teen dealing with acne. She has always given me great information and education on skincare that is proper for my age, and what ingredients to look for in products.

I am one of those people who believes in simple, effective ingredients. I don’t like using a million of them, either. I refuse to pay tons of money for a product that claims to do something when I can find the active ingredient of that product for a fraction of the price. I have done such extensive research on all sorts of skincare aspects – whether it’s cleansers, serums, moisturizers, acne treatments, and I have begun to dabble in the world of anti-aging products. I have a lot to share with what I’ve found, so it only makes sense to break this down once a week for you guys to share my infinite knowledge and wisdom. Ha. Hence, Skincare Sunday!

Just as a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to be. Please take what I say and consult with your doctor/dermatologist before purchasing and using anything I recommend.

Skincare Sunday

Today’s topic is going to be the most important product you’ll probably ever need ever. All About Retinoids. My holy grail skincare product. Intimidating, yet awesome. Hey, go big or go home with this first post, right?

You’ve probably heard the terms “Retinol”, “Retinoid” , or even “Retinyl” before, and they all sound pretty scary. Basically all of these are skincare treatments that are derived from Vitamin A. What’s the difference between them all? Retinoids are the highest concentration and can only be obtained through a prescription. Retinols and Retinyls can be found in over-the-counter skincare products, and are commonly seen in anti-aging products. It really is a lot to discuss for one post, so if you’d like to research more of the differences in these products, I suggest you take a look at this page. Or google it.

Which one is best?
In my opinion, Retinoids are the way to go. The brand name of that is usually called Retin-A. You should be going to your dermatologist once a year anyway, just to get your skin checked for any abnormalities. While you’re there, you should ask if you may be a candidate Retin-A/Retinoid/Tretinoin prescription. Chances are you probably are if you are wanting to fight the signs of aging and/or acne.

What are the benefits?
It is one of the only products available that has significant proven results with anti-aging. It also is great for acne prone skin. It really rejuvenates the skin. This is particularly a great product for women like me in their thirties, who are dealing with adult acne but are also wanting to fight a little aging as well.

What does it do?
It gets the skin to rapidly exfoliate, hence why it is great with aging and acne prone skin.

What are some of the side effects?
Since your skin is constantly exfoliating at a pretty rapid rate, your skin can be fairly thin. With that, it is absolutely imperative to wear a sunscreen at all times during the day. It is also a bad idea to wax any hair on your face. If it is improperly used, you will also dry up and flake quite a bit. Your skin may be a little more sensitive feeling when you are adjusting and getting used to it.


This is my prescription of Retin-A. Well, technically it’s a generic brand, and called “Tretinoin Cream”. You can usually get this in a cream or gel form, with concentrations of 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1% (the highest concentration). As you can see, I have the highest concentration available. It is some crazy strong stuff. My dermatologist has always said that it’s better for me to start with the highest concentration because you can always use less and build your way up. It took me a while to get used to it. It’s lasted me well over a year, and it was cheap.

Now, to the important part. And the part that took me a long time to learn. How to use it. I used to have a love/hate relationship with this stuff because it seemed like every time I would use it, I would just get super dry, sensitive, and flake and it took me so long to get back to where I was I never wanted to repeat the cycle. Now I have a love/love relationship because I have figured out what works best. This took a lot of trial and error and a lot of research that is not readily available.

My routine with my Retin-A is this:

  • I only use this product at night and I wash it off in the morning.
  • I do not use it every night. This is crucial when you are starting out on this prescription. Start with it once a week. Then once your skin is used to it, add in another day (spaced out, of course). I’ve been using it for years now (off and on), and I cannot use it every day. I can mostly tolerate it every other day or every two days.
  • After I wash my face, I wait at least thirty minutes before applying the cream. For some reason, if I do not wait, I will always peel and get extremely dry and sensitive. If I can wait longer than thirty minutes, then I will.
  • I apply the tiniest amount. Literally smaller than pea size. Start super duper small. It is also safe to apply it (very sparingly) under the eyes, down the neck, and even the back of your hands.
  • Oftentimes I will follow up with a moisturizer. It’s not a necessary step, but if you are dry it may be a good idea. No need to wait for the Retin-A to sink in.
  • This product does fine with every salicylic acne cleanser I use, but I keep it very simple with the products I layer on over it. No anti-aging serums or creams over it. A lot of times I’ll even use extra virgin coconut oil. It’s never a good idea to have too many products on your face at once. Usually the Retin-A and maybe some coconut oil (I also make sure to apply it under the eyes, too) will do the trick.
  • On my “off” nights, I will use a hyaluronic acid serum (all about that stuff coming up soon!) and a Retinol cream, so I am still getting a weak derivative of Vitamin A. Right now I’m using Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Night Total Wrinkle Plumping Care (gosh, that’s a mouthful) and I love it.

How does my skin look when I am consistent with Retinoids?
My skin is a lot brighter, toned and much clearer. My post acne marks fade very quickly. If I do get a break out, it clears faster. My faint lines seem less deep.

I know this is a lot to take in at once, but I highly encourage you to start researching Retinoids to see if it will work for you. Obviously this product may not work for everyone, but I highly encourage you to check it out and talk with your dermatologist about it!

p.s. Do you subscribe to any beauty boxes or other fun monthly subscriptions? Do you like to blog about it? Be sure to come back on Tuesday and link your posts up with me for Subscription Box Share!


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