My First Month On Tretinoin For Acne

Hey everyone. I wanted to share my experience using tretinoin so that others can know possibly what to expect. I decided to go to a dermatologist a month back because I felt the zits were getting a little out of control. It kinda came outta nowhere months back and I could not pin point why it was happening.

I’ve always been fairly lucky to have good skin. By that I mean I mostly had clear skin but possibly one or two small ones occasionally that I could easily cover up. Well at 29 years old I had developed some random giant cystic ones and they just weren’t going away anymore. The lower half of my face was covered with bumps at all times, and while makeup covers discoloration, it doesn’t cover the bumps. I started feeling more and more self-conscious about it and began trying to use everything to kill the pimples…and then trying to do the opposite by using nothing, going makeup free on weekends to see if improvement would happen. I hated my skin. I felt like the years of spending hours in the sun baking and lack of having a very specific skin regime was to blame. I had my good years….this was it. Shit skin. I felt ashamed….and even worse because I know I don’t have the worst case of it ever–and here I was complaining. Well, I had to do something—I didn’t care what it was going to cost–I just needed to find out some solutions, I wanted pretty skin again and knew it was possible.

Atralin tube Tretinoin

My new skin care program was completely different from now on.

At the end of my appointment I was prescribed to use a tretinoin cream on a nightly basis, along a 5% benzoyl peroxide treatment (I used the DDF version), a gentle soap-free cleanser (Cerave), neutrogena’s oil free acne wash for alternating days, and then a oil free moisturizer. I got a ton of samples from the office, which I thought was kind because I was NOT there on insurance.

I decided to document my progress each week with photos so you could see.

I have to say that it was the first week of using tretinoin and the BP gel where my face “hurt”. I knew there was going to be some irritation but hoped it wouldn’t be too bad. I could see that my skin was started to turnover more quickly, the skin looked fresher but stung like hell when I used moisturizer. I was warned that using too much would cause my face to peel a lot and if used properly my face would have minimal if no peeling. my face peeled…and peeled….and peeled more. I felt like the bearded lady except with dry , sensitive skin that I now had.

That had to be the most difficult part of this whole new routine. Figuring how much of everything to use. It’s suggested to use a pea sized drop of each to cover the entire face. Over the course of the first month I have to skip using the BP gel on my chin and reserve it for my cheeks nose and temples only. I use the tretinoin gel all over my face (excluding my eyes) on most nights. I skip two days a week whenever I feel necessary. I still peel from time to time but have incorporated a new Caudalie Lip Conditioner for when I accidentally swipe over my lips and dry them out, and Avene Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream for my chin that needed extra moisturizing. Hallelujah for those two products there because I felt like they saved my from having my lower face peel away. My face is now comfortable. I can also wear makeup without it peeling over my skin halfway through the day.

Here are my starting point pictures. You can see I had some embarrassing giant ones calling my name.

Here I am after one full week of using everything. You can see that the old ones are healing but that new ones are cropping up. Fun. As much as I hate this process I know it’s all for the good. I can expect new ones that have been waiting to resurface to come out and say hello over the course of the next couple of months. Yes, my skin was congested and as my skin keeps exfoliating away, its bringing all the deep ones out. You will also notice the peeling that is showing to the side of my mouth. The corners of the mouth should be completely avoided (I forgot as I would be rubbing all over my face). I also put moisturizing lotion near the corners of my mouth to help too.

One week after using tretinoinOne week after using tretinoinHere I am after two weeks on Tretinoin. Pretty much the same thing is happening. What I am noticing is how quickly pimples now crop up and how quickly they come to the surface. If you are a picker–beware! Tretinoin makes your skin more sensitive so if you try to pop and pick your pimples will feel sore. They will pop more easily–but at this point we really gotta cut that crap out because it isn’t helping. Do you best to let them go..I’m still trying to refrain.

Two weeks after using tretinoin

Two weeks after using tretinoinOk, so by now I’m starting see more improvement overall. In general, any pimples that are working their way to the surface are smaller in size. Week three shows there are less and what is there is healing. So here is after three weeks using tretinoin.

Three weeks after using tretinoinThree weeks after using tretinoinFinally it has been a whole month using the treatment. I visited the doctor on Friday and we both agreed there is improvement, but that I can expect more to work there way up to the surface over the next couple months. I don’t get the giant ones really, just those “under the surface” little bumps over my lower cheeks. I suspect those will be the last one to leave. My forehead is clear but I still like to use the tretinoin because it has helped with fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead. I wonder if it will help lessen the cover of sun spots that are starting to show around my eyes also. I’m excited to see..

After one month on tretinoinWhile I still don’t have perfect skin yet I do see that my skin is getting better. Were these pictures embarrassing to share? Hell yes. Who wants to show their zitty photos? No one! But I do hope that it helps someone who is wondering about this stuff. It will take time and that means patience. Know that your face is still gonna have zits throughout the beginning of the process. Know that if your face hurts or is peeling to stop for a day or two. Your skin has to HEAL at the same time so give it a breather if its asking for it.

I’m going to continue to track my progress in hopes of showing you even better results.

I know this stuff isn’t for everyone. Some would say it’s too strong but when you feel like nothing else works, it’s time to get some professional advice and give it a shot. I tried reading about people’s experiences on the web and all I read were people who had severe cases of acne and how it didn’t work for them. Well, it seems to be working for me. And I’m willing to give it more time to see clear skin.

Is there some product or skin care regime that you would swear by? Has anything wowed you and continually wowed you over the months of using it? I’m curious to know what really works, because before this I was considering the Baby Quasar or the Tanda lights to help…..

15 thoughts on “My First Month On Tretinoin For Acne

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with Tretinoin. I believe that is also what I was prescribed but a different brand. I didn’t see any improvement and it gotten worse at week 2 so I stopped using it. I may give it a second chance and see if it helps. I guess I have to just wait it out and stop complaining. I was prescribed with cleocin T for my mornings and I believe it’s salycic acid instead of benzoyl peroxide. Wish me luck!

  2. Claudia it is really working! Results in a month is great. I have heard about the DDF wash, unfortunately, I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide.

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  4. Hi Claudia, Mark here from the Philippines! When I was a teenager (14 I guess) I had gigantic gross pus filled pimples. It took me a while to figure how to clear it. Try washing your face with hot water. And I mean hot (something you can tolerate and may turn your skin and hands a bit red after washing BUT not boiling point hot that might burn you) It took me less that a month and the pimple subsided. I did get larger pores though but it’s better than pimple breakout. I 27 now and working here in Saudi Arabia, Again I’m getting some zits, maybe because of the extreeeme heat. But not terrible, like 1 or 2 pimples in a month. I still have problems with my pores and blackheads. So I’m googling stuff to fix it. And then I came across with tretinion. It’s just my 1st week and the pimple bumps has turned brownish red and the pus is gone! It dried really fast! I’m going to continue it until I go vacation by June next year. Hopefully this product will clear my acne issues. Keep posting your improvements too! Best of luck for us!

    Twitter: mckewlit

    • Hello Mark! Thanks for the message, i definitely plan on posting more progress….the second month on tretinoin looked terrible! I didnt take pictures each week but have at least 6 weeks of photos saved up to post. Thank you for your interest, it sucks dealing with pimples as an adult!

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  6. u sure its working?,…maybe after u used that it will be back again after it works and u stop using that i think it will be back normal

    • it works with consistant use. If you stop, your skin reverts back to how it previously was before using atralin. At this time I dont use it often.. Only when I feel I have a flare up that needs to be cleared faster. My skin has normalized since this post was written and I only rely on atralin a few times a year—even though they indicate it for daily use. If my skin doesnt need it, i dont use it. Its very expensive for me without insurance

  7. You should never use benzoyl peroxide with tretinoin! The interactions are very bad. Read the interactions/side effects on the instructions.

    • well according to a dermatologist with proper use its fine and always was. Bezoyl Peroxide can severely dry out the skin along with tretinoin if use improperly. Used sparingly and the be fine, at least in my case.

  8. What I am thinking???
    You are a big LIAR!!!!
    It’s all photoshop!
    Can you explain how could you manage to keep your hairstyle EXACTLY the same for one month? Every single hair thread in exactly the same position!!!
    Seriously???
    Why are you trying to fool the readers?

    • Actually, it is the same EXACT photo but with different lighting when you see two photos above and below each other. Look at them again. I guess I should have explained that before hand …but I thought it was pretty obvious when looking at the photos that yes, they do have every single hair exactly in the same place its only the lighting that changes. If you read through the post you will see when I say they are before photos, and which are AFTER photos. Sorry for the confusion, but honestly if I were to photoshop my face and remove pimples, I would have done a much better job! Sorry you felt I was trying to fool you.

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