Beauty Chat: Retin A

March 1, 2013


Ladies, it’s time to talk beauty products for a little bit. I think that’s one of the best ways to kick off the (almost) weekend no?

I’m currently partaking in the crazy process that is establishing new doctors, hair stylists and dentists in our new city. This ranks up there as one of my least favorite parts about moving. Seriously. It’s worse than unpacking boxes. Thanks to a few lovely ladies (I’m looking at you, Katie, Cindy and Emily) I’ve been getting some great recommendations, which is helping to make the process a little less painful.

At the top of my list was finding a great dermatologist. Since skin cancer runs strong in my family, I have become particularly fond of sunscreen and yearly full-body skin cancer screens from my dermatologist. (PSA: Stay out of the tanning bed! I beg you!)

Let’s back up a minute. These days I think I have pretty great skin, but that hasn’t always been the case. I had horrible skin during college, so much so that my dermatologist put me on Accutane. Miserable experience, nasty side effects and fantastic results. That is another post for another time.

In the almost four years since, I have had great skin with minor break outs or issues. But lately I’ve noticed that my pores have been more clogged and the occasional smattering of small but annoying breakouts have found their way to my face, mainly on my forehead and along my jawline. Nothing major but enough to be a bother.

While my derm was checking out my moles and making sure I was skin cancer-free I took a minute to ask her about my skin questions. She looked over my face and prescribed Retin A to be used each night. According to her, and the research I’ve done online, it appears to be the wonder drug of skin creams: keeps skin breakout-free, reduces wrinkles, builds collagen, reduces discoloration and sun spots. I found this article informative if you are looking for a bit more detail.

I’m excited to document the experience (makeup-free photos included!) and share my results as I go along. I’m hoping to do a 1 month check-in and then occasional updates after that.


Week 1
Pre Retin A Treatment
Skin: Minor breakouts along jawline, some bumps on forehead, blackheads in t-zone
Skin Type: Combination with more dryness during the winter months
Routine: Trader Joe’s Spa Face Was with Tea Tree Oil, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, Clinique Eye Cream (at night)

Have any of you all had experiences using Retin A or similar products? What did you like/dislike? Was it that miracle prescription that some say it is?

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  • Reply Emily March 1, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I used Retin A for a while and really liked it. I have pretty sensitive skin so I definitely had to follow the “use a tiny bit, once a day” rule. It will make your skin pretty flaky regardless, but it’s gets better after the first few weeks. Also, it makes skin prone to sunburn so I had to be really diligent about applying sunscreen on my face.

    I’m interested to see how it goes for you! This reminds me that I need to re-up my prescription.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 1, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Emily, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. It’s SO helpful to hear what others who have actually used Retin A have to say. I’ll make sure to report back on my thoughts soon!

  • Reply Cindy Germann March 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Would you mind sending me the name of the dermatologist you found? I have never visited a derm and promised myself this was the year. I don’t have any family history of skin cancer, but as a (very) fair skinned red head I think it’s time to get checked out!

    Also? You are absolutely beautiful, with or without make up.

    • Reply Madison Mayberry March 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Speetzen at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park. She was fantastic. Forward thinking, took the time to talk with me about all my questions, super friendly, and she’s new to the MSP area so I think it should be fairly easy to get an appointment. Here’s the link!


    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Cindy, I thought that I responded to you earlier, but for some reason my comment is not showing up. If you already got my dermatologist comment, please disregard this. But I strongly suggest Dr. Speetzen at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park!


  • Reply Jenn Mietla March 1, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I currently use the Artistry brand intensive skincare anti-wrinkle firming serum which has Retinol (a version of Retin A that doesn’t require a prescription), peptides, and Vitamin C. I use it for my acne more than for anti-aging purposes, and I absolutely love it!!

    Like you, I had horrible skin in college (my dermatologist wanted to put me on Accutane (but I didn’t do it). I have tried about every product on the market for acne control and this has been my saving grace. I hardly break out now, and if I do, it’s very minimal. (I never, ever thought I would be able to say that!) It did dry out my skin a bit in January for a few days when the air was super dry and cold. I suppose it helps with wrinkles too, since I’ll be 30 in a few months and I don’t have a single line or wrinkle on my face yet.

    I think you’ll get great results from the Retin A, just be sure to use lots of sunscreen with it. I have sunscreen in my moisturizer and I use an additional sunscreen on my face every day because I burn really, really easily. I can’t wait to see your results! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to share, Jenn! I can’t say I blame you for not going on Accutane. I am happy that I did, but the process was not any fun. Hoping that this process is a little more pleasant. I love that Retin A also seems to have plenty of anti-aging benefits, too. I have a little furrow line near my brow that I could stand parting with. šŸ™‚

  • Reply Kristen March 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    My advice is to stick with it! It took about 3 months of hardcore dry flakiness and revamping my routine (gentler face washes, better moisturizer, etc.) to make it work. I’ll still get a few blemishes her and there and some dryness, but overall I am really happy with Retin A.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks, Kristen! It’s great to hear your perspective. I’ll make sure to keep it in mind when my skin gets all dry and flaky. You’ve got me inspired.

  • Reply jamie March 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    this sounds interesting! i have a tube of retin a that a fried gave to me to try, but i’ve yet to give it a go because i’m afraid my face will become intolerably flaky! all the research and testimonials i’ve read/heard have been so promising, though, so i’m excited to find out your take.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry March 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Jamie, I had a little bit of the same fear. And I still do! But I’ve been using the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream that comes in the round tub and it is SUPER thick, so I’m hoping that it will be enough to ward off the dryness. It’s a little too thick for my skin now, but I’m thinking it might be just right while using RetinA.

  • Reply DessertForTwo March 2, 2013 at 4:36 am

    Hey sweetgirl! I just wanted to say that i have the exact same skin concerns lately, and I realized its the eye cream! That thick eye cream moves from your eyes to your jaw line on your pillow as you toss and turn in the night and clogs pores!

    • Reply Madison Mayberry March 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      My goodness! I never even thought about that. So what are we supposed to do about that. It makes for quite the problem, right? Wrinkly eyes or breakouts? It’s hard being a girl! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Amy March 3, 2013 at 3:29 am

    Hey thanks for this post- I don;t remember having this many breakouts before (in my teen years or early 20s) but recently even my hubby has noticed just and ongoing slew of zits! I am 26 and thought I would be past this. I am about to make a derm appt (for the first time in probably 10 yrs) but I was on Retin A as a teen but don’t remember the results or if they were noticeable (I think I stop using it because I hated the dry feeling). good luck, you are gorgeous, love the “real” makeup free shots!e

  • Reply LindsayH March 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    It helped me to start out just using it every other or every second day (I do it in the evening before bed).

    • Reply Madison Mayberry March 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      I am just now finding that out, Lindsay! My face could not handle every day (major dry, flaky skin going on right now!) so I’ve switched to every other day until my skin adjusts.

  • Reply Amanda March 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I have been using Retin A for two years – a few things I’d suggest from my own experience. Try push through the flakiness barrier if you can (skin can also get a bit red and itchy) because it definitely passes. I use it only at night, and I am currently putting on at least a teaspoonful (at the suggestion of my derm). And if your skin is still dry, wait until all the Retin A is absorbed and then put on a good night cream as part of your nightly routine. And dont forget to use it on your neck and hands. In the morning, I dont wash my face – only rinse it, and gently rub the flakiness away with a towel or a face cloth. Since I stopped washing my face twice a day, the skin has improved dramatically. Try a really moisture-rich moisturiser – although I live in a very warm, humid climate, I am using an intense moisturiser and that has improved my skin’s overall look and feel. You can put Retin A under your eyes to target the fine wrinkles but be aware that it may cause some sensitivity because the skin is very fine and thin. But it will pass. Dont expect overnight miracles with Retin A – it takes a good 6 months to start showing any permanent results. And it isn’t really going to fix deep wrinkles or frowns. But what you should see relatively quickly is an improvement in the brightness of your skin as all the old skin is sloughed off.

    • Reply Madison Mayberry March 26, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Amanda, thank you so much for the tips and advice! It’s helpful to hear the experience someone else has had with Retin A. I am most certainly experiencing the whole “dry, flaky skin” thing right now and not loving it. But I’v heard from so many that I need to just power through the first few months and I will really start to love the results. Looking forward to getting through this phase!

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