' The Retin-A Uglies' My One Month Tretinoin Update : Over 40 Style

Hey lovelies,

So I've mentioned a couple of times in previous blog posts that I was revamping my anti-aging skincare regime. And today I want to update you on my progress, focusing on the gold standard of skincare Retin-A and my journey so far. 

Woman portrait in garden

What is Retin-A?

Retin-A and it's medical name Tretinoin is the only skincare cream clinically proven to reduce the signs of aging including lines, pigmentation and enlarged pores. Initially developed as an acne treatment, Retin-A is derived from Vitamin A and works to combat breakouts and also the signs of aging by speeding up the turnover of skin cells.

Tretinoin gel 0.1%


As skin ages, the turnover of skin cells slows down, leading to the uppermost layer of skin being composed of older, coarser, dehydrated cells. Retin-A speeds cell turnover backup and as a result younger, plumper cells are brought to the surface, and collagen fibres in the lower levels of the dermis are strengthened. 
 
Retinoid is the general term for all products based on vitamin A, and are available as over the counter Retinols and prescription Retin-A. Retinols replicate the action of Retin-A but the body has to convert the active ingredients first, and that reduces the effectiveness. So if you really want the gold standard of anti-aging skincare ,Retin-A (aka Tretinoin) is the way to go.
 
You can get Retin-A on prescription in the UK or via an online pharmacy that will run through a medical checklist for you. Dermatica will prescribe you the appropriate strength for you after an online consultation. 

Starting My Retin-A Journey & the 'Uglies Phase'

I'm documenting my Retin-A journey so join me on the video below to see how I'm getting on! 


 
It's important to build up to using Retin-A, so I've been using Tretinoin strength 0.1% for 4 weeks now, once a week. And I have to say I'm amazed at the results so far!
 
My pores are visibly smaller, my skin looks and feels plumper and more resilient and the hyperpigmentation patches I have from chloasma are fading. Over time, the collagen in the deeper will start to replenish and lines and wrinkles will reduce...that's the plan!
 
But, along with these benefits comes the 'Retin-A Uglies'. As the skin adapts to faster cell turnover, new users often get a range of side effects.
Skin can experience redness, peeling, flaking, irritation and increased breakouts known as 'purging' as it adapts. These side effects are temporary but can last for a few weeks or months. So don't begin your Retin-A journey just before a big event!.
 
Lockdown has been the ideal time for me to start using Retin-A as I'm working from home and doing much less socialising. And I have experienced some side effects, well let's face it, I'm shedding like a snake! My skin hasn't felt red, dry or irritated but it is definitely flaky in the days after application. 
 
I've been applying on Sunday nights, by Wednesday the flaking starts and Thursday & Friday I see the most peeling. A gentle exfoliation gets rid of the worst. And by Saturday/Sunday I'm pretty much back to normal, which is when I tend to film for Youtube, take blog pics and socialise. So time your application initially,  depending on when it's most convenient to have the side effects.
 
I have tried Tretinoin before a couple of years ago and it really didn't agree with me. I got terrible breakouts, and everyone told me this was the 'purge', that spots lying dormant under my skin were coming out, but this went on for 4 months with no improvement and I was getting the breakouts in areas I'd never had blemishes such as my cheeks. I don't normally suffer from breakouts so I couldn't understand where this acne was coming from. I've realised now it was the actual cream causing the breakouts and not the Retin-A during that first experience. This time around I'm using a gel formula, and bar a couple of blemishes in areas I tend to get them, I haven't had any acne response. 
 
So choose the formula depending on your skin type, gel seems better suited to combination/oily skin, and the cream formula if you have dry/sensitive skin.
 
In terms of flaking, I'm just living with it, gentle exfoliation with a makeup removing microfibre cloth seems to get rid of the worst. And on the days I'm not using Retin-A I'm hydrating my skin with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid with Oliveda F07 Anti-aging Face Cream, plus a couple of drops of BYBI Bakuchiol Booster. 
 
One other point to remember is that those plump new skin cells are much more photosensitive that your 'old' skin. Think of it in terms of a child's skin, we know it's much more sensitive and easily burnt by UV rays, and we'd never allow a toddler out in the sun without high factor protection and shade. Be vigilant in applying high factor sunscreen every day, I'm using the fabulous ZO Sunscreen and Primer under makeup.
 
In terms of makeup, I'm living without my favourite Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation for now, it's impossible to apply on my flakiest days. Instead the best foundation I've found for the peeling days is the Makeup Revolution Conceal & Hydrate foundation with hyaluronic acid. Followed by a very light dusting of face power just to keep shine at bay without emphasising the peeling.
 
But to be honest, for most Retin-A newbies it's a phase you just have to go through. And I can already see a lessening of the side effects each week. So over the next few weeks I'm going to up my usage to twice a week, probably Sunday and Wednesday and see how I get on. Might mean a few flaky photos on the blog and the need for soft focus on Youtube but I'll be sure to update you on my progress! 
 
Much love,
Bridget x
 



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