I recently visited my dermatologist to get a prescription for Retin-A. I wanted to eliminate some stubborn blackheads once and for all, and minimize some fine lines that I’ve developed in my mid-30s. I knew it was a pretty aggressive drug with some unpleasant side effects, but nothing could have prepared me for what actually happened! So I decided to share my experience with Retin-A and offer some tips for first-time users.
First, my dermatologist explained that many insurance companies do not cover Retin-A for adults. So she recommended a mail-order pharmacy called Valeant that offers Retin-A Micro 0.08%. She called in the prescription, I then called to give my information and pay the $35, and my prescription arrived two days later. It couldn’t have been easier… or cheaper.
I decided to use just a tiny amount of Retin-A only on my forehead and chin to start. I’m so glad I didn’t go overboard! Within 20 hours, my skin had become red and started peeling on my chin. My forehead had a different reaction and became thick, bumpy, and itchy. I looked pretty awful. Since my chin was almost to the point of being raw, I decided to lay off the Retin-A for the next few days.
After a couple weeks, I had it pretty much figured out. My side effects had subsided and my skin had become more tolerant. Looking back at what I did right and what I did wrong, I can offer these 5 tips for first-time Retin-A Users.
5 Tips for First Time Retin-A Users:
- Avoid any products containing benzoyl peroxide or alpha/beta hydroxy acids for a week prior to starting Retin-A treatment. Benzoyl peroxide dries out your skin and alpha/beta hydroxy acids make your skin more sensitive (whether you realize it or not). Retin-A is aggressive enough on its own. You don’t want compound effects of multiple products.
- Choose a test area of your face to start. The initial side effects can be quite hideous and uncomfortable. Do yourself a favor and choose one area to try first to see how your skin reacts.
- Use LESS than a pea-sized amount. The package insert will tell you to use a pea-sized amount but I can promise you it will be too much for your first couple times. Use about a third of a pea-sized amount. I know that sounds laughable and you’ll feel like it’s not enough, but you’ll thank me later.
- Don’t use it every night during the first week. Not only do you need a couple days to see how your skin will react to this drug, but your skin also needs to build up a tolerance to it. Use it every other night or every third night for the first week or two.
- Buy a nice hat. Since wearing a paper bag on your head or a ski mask are not realistic options, a hat is the next best thing to disguise your skin. At least that’s what I told myself. Plus, you’ll need to protect your skin from sunburn and a hat is good for that too!
Have you tried Retin-A? Leave a comment below and let us know how it went!