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Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retisol-A)
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Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retisol-A)


Active Ingredients:
Tretinoin (0.01%), Parsol MCX (7.5%) and Parsol 1789 (2%) SPF 15.

Inactive Ingredients:
Butylated hydroxytoluene, carbomer 934, cyclomethicone, diisopropyl adipate, glycerin, imidurea/parabens, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, light mineral oil, phenyl trimethicone, polysorbate 60, purified water USP, sodium hydroxide 10%, sorbitan monosterate, and stearyl alcohol.

The list of ingredients above is provided for informational purposes only. Always check the actual product label in your possession for the most accurate ingredient information due to product changes or upgrades that may not yet be reflected on our web site.

Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retisol-A)

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Tretinoin (Retin-A, Retisol-A)

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Not Worth It
Reviewed on January 13, 2015

Tretinoin was prescribed to me after clindamycin which did absolutely nothing. Started with tretinoin .025% and then bumped up to .1% and still nothing. I think its not worth it

by BadgalG on 01/22/2015 04:45
My dorm perscribed clindamycin gel for the morning and tretinoin for night and it worked perfectly for me! your should try them together.
Dangerous and life changing!
Reviewed on January 11, 2015

Ok, I've been a follower of since my acne got really bad, and I decided to make an account just to review Retin A, which has been devastating to me face. First, a little background.

I'm a 27 year old Mexican male. When I started college I broke out really bad with cystic acne but got it quickly under control with minocycline and occasional facials from my dermatologist. Once the acne was under control, I washed with Cetaphyl, applied clindamycin foam (I got free little samples from my derm), and moisturized with Eucerin's SPF moisturizer. I got a facial from my derm about once a semester. My skin was perfect and after a little while, my complexion was even. This lasted for about three years. At some point I stopped using the clindamycin foam and solely did the Cetaphyl/Eucerin moisturizer combo, along with a facial twice a year, and my face was fine. I was also partying a lot, staying up late, and eating more or less unhealthily, but not acne!

Eventually I moved abroad, was faced with very little money, and decided to try honey as a face wash. Same thing: clear face, in fact, it felt even better. It was bright. I was still getting facials twice a year and this seemed most crucial. This lasted two years (and between two countries) and then I got my last facial and moved abroad, to another country, again. I was using honey as a face wash still. At some point at the 9 month mark I started to break out around my mouth. Summer was coming and I hadn't gotten my typical facial in march because I hadn't returned to my derm in the states. I moved countries again and started taking Minocycline, since I remembered how it worked. It cleared me up fairly quickly and I stayed on it for a whole 9 months in fear of breaking out. Once those same summer months came around again, I started breaking out in the same areas. I also let go of the Mino because I felt that it wasn't working, maybe I had developed a resistance, and I had started to read horrible stories about liver damage, etc... I started trying treatments like the Oil Cleansing Method, homemade zinc-mint facemasks, etc, but maybe it was to hot where I was living (no AC) and I kept breaking out around my mouth. Since I'm brown, I had pretty noticeable PIH.

For the summer, I moved countries again (where the derms were cheap) and decided to see someone about my face. She prescribed a really rough soap that I immediately abandoned, Bioderma Sebium Pore Refiner, which I also abandoned pretty quickly, a Clindamycin/Benzoyl Peroxide cream (like Duac) and Retin A. She claimed that my face was producing too much oil—and I wonder if it had to do with the oil cleansing? I was to use the Clindamycin/BP one day and Retin A the other.

I was pretty excited to use Retin A. I had only heard good things and hadn't read the reviews here. I thought, "Acne free and younger looking? Great!" I was prescribed .25% in gel and I started using it at night. My face immediately reacted and I started to feel red, tight, and irritated. My pimples would pop in disgusting ways and I noticed that I was starting to develop more on my face. I read about purging and thought I would keep with the procedure but I wish I would have abandoned the product instantly. Around month 2 my face started to develop cysts. I also got a bad sunburn because I was at the beach (even though I slathered on sunblock continuously) and at around month 4, while I was still breaking out, I had the stupid idea to switch to a .1% Retin A cream. I was living in another country again, this time where medicine was cheap and available without prescription. I had read somewhere on this forum that the 1% works faster, and that any purging would happen more quickly. I was also reading that it would take even up to 6 months for all purging to subside. Well, I went through months 5 and 6 with the worst acne of my life. I have never had some many cysts and pus filled pimples ever. I was using honey as a wash and doing everything to calm my face down. It was horrible and many of my friends, upon looking at me return from the summer, would do double takes. Some of the closer ones asked me what was wrong, what I was doing different, and my self-confidence drastically diminished. In fact, it vanished. I stopped going out. I stayed in all the time and made excuses.

Once the 6th month came around, I finally let go of using Retin A but this was too late. My cheeks have PIH almost everywhere. Once I stopped using Retin A, I kept up with the BP, and while my face drastically calmed down, I was still irritated and breaking out, though they weren't heavy cysts. I continued researching and began a very healthy diet. I had actually been eating healthy and exercising for quite a while, 3 years or so, ever since I finished college. I was practicing yoga 3 times a week, running, eating mainly salads, quinoa, fish, and slowly trying to get my life back. I took a probiotic supplement, milk thistle, dandelion root, and tried to get my liver back in order from a whole year of Minocycline. I was thinking that that was the culprit. I started taking 15000 grams of Vitamin A a day too. While I was traveling, I found some argan oil and introduced it to my regimen. At this point I was washing my face with Sebamed Antibacterial Cleansing Foam and applying a few drops of argan oil and then a squirt or two of Cetaphyl Dermacontrol SPF 30 moisturizer during the day and washing with Sebamed and applying the Clindamycin/BP cream at night. I was still breaking out but not as much, and it looked like their were still residual clogged pores from the Retin A that were surfacing.

This December I moved countries again and decided to let go of the Clindamycin/BP cream because I decided it was irritating me. Well, I bought a glycolic acid 30% peel, as well as Tepezcohuite serum, and for the past three weeks I've given myself a peel weekly, which is drastically helping with my PIH. I was washing with Cetaphyl cleanser again, applying the Tepezcohuite serum, and finishing off with some argan oil drops. During the day, I'd add the same Cetaphyl sunblock I've been using the the past 6 months so I can avoid darkening my spots.

I just moved countries again and I found a really good natural product for washing my face that's called Aloevida facial champú. It's made of 70% aloe vera, and I've now switched out my Cetaphyl cleanser for this. This same brand also has an SPF cream that's 60& aloe vera and I've switched out the Cetaphyl moisturizer for this too.

Currently, I apply an organic honey mask to my face in the mornings for 30 minutes, then shower and apply the Tepezcohuite serum and argan oil, following up with the aloe spf. In the evenings I wash with the aloe facial champú and apply the Tepez serum and a little more argan oil than the mornings, since I don't apply the aloe spf. My face is starting to clear up and while the glyoclic acid peels have brought some white heads to surface, I'm only breaking out maybe once a week in comparison to the horror of Retin A.

I really recommend that only people who are very desperate and who have sever acne, try it. Before I started Retin A, I was breaking out as often as I do now. But because of my idiocy and misplaced desperation (once on Retin A I finally KNEW what desperation is), my face is completely changed. I have a few scars but thankfully I mostly have PIH, some of which is is close to purple/black. Now I'm just waiting things out. I'm going to finish 6 treatments and then break for a month. My goal is to hopefully let go of the Tepezcohuite serum. While it's nice, it has a lot of ingredients (good ones nonetheless), and I'm trying to have as minimal a regimen as possible.

3 months of terrible break-outs
Reviewed on January 7, 2015

I've been on .05% Retin-A for 3 months now... 3 months of consisten break outs! Just when I think it is getting better, BAM! acne all over my face again. My acne is hormonal and even though I'm on birth control pills, nothing is working. About a month ago my derm suggested using 10% benzoyl peroxide on the opposite time of day I use Rein-A; the acne goes away quicker but 3 more show up where one dissappeared. I'm waiting for my .1% to get in so I can use that for a month or so, but if that doesn't work I'm just going to use Accutane.

Has anyone else had Tretinoin take this long to work? I am a pretty healthy person, drink lots of water, wash my face twice a day every day and try not to touch my face as much as possible.

by Jimbo913 on 01/10/2015 23:39
My skin was getting too sore so I started applying jojoba oil after the retin a is absorbed. It is very good for acne prone skin and I never dreamed of using oil on my face since I have oily skin but this product is so close to human sebum it fools the skin to reduce oil production. I also take biotin, fish oil, vitamen A, zinc, and eat as low glycemic as possible and acne is improving. Oh I also reduced dairy 90% and increased water as high as possible 40-60oz day
some helpful hints. ROUGH start, insufficient alone, but SO WORTH IT in the end.
Reviewed on January 3, 2015

After thousands of dollars, derms, and years, FINALLY found a routine that works for me, and tretinoin is a necessary part. 7 mos ago I started using tretinoin 1%. My mom had used it and I knew how rough the start was - peeling, dry, sensitive, red- but was desperate, willing to stick through a few really bad months b/c I already feel terrible about my appearance so what's a few months feeling a little worse- I'll give it a last ditch, full on effort. Well, it was a REALLY rough few months, but I achieved my goal. Here's what worked for me.

First, tretinoin. I jumped right in w/ the 1% (the strongest Rx, I think). IMPORTANT TIPS FOR STARTING T! - for the first while you'll want to use the gentlest cleanser possible - for me, PUPROSE. OTC, cheap, my derm recommended. She also told me to start using a cleanser with salicylic and glycolic acids in the AM when possible (but don't rush it). PAT skin dry, not rub, as it will be super sensitive soon. When using T(or any retinol product) know benzoyl peroxide and retinols counteract each other-don't use them at the same time of day. Also, give your face plenty of time to dry after washing and before applying T, because water increases the penetration of the T. Accoridngly a good moisturizer before T is critical- give it time to soak in esp in the beginning b/c T is so drying. Derm recommended CeraVe PM (OTC, $10). Use lotion liberally and T sparingly!

Effect of T: first week, dry, no real change in acne. 3rd/4th, started getting much more acne, and very dry skin - I had to carry lotion to apply during the day. It was embarrassing - certain spots would get flaky during the day despite looking OK in the AM. Occasionally I would take a day or 2 off from T for this, especially if I had an important day coming up. Use a pea size amount for the whole face - dab in quadrants, then rub in. Best to do this at night so you can get some of the dead skin off in the AM before work. For daytime lotion, my derm recommended Cetaphil for oily skin (even though my face was now dry). I put some in a little travel tube and carried it in my pocket. Sometimes used hydrocortisone. It was really rough until about the 12th week. Then I started noticing gradual but real improvement in the acne (dryness started improving around week 8). I would still get some acne occasionally but much less frequently and went away faster. Small tube was expensive - $50 or $70 - but I still have more than 1/2 the tube left after 7 mos. It takes only the tiniest amount. Also- derm is NOT KIDDING about sun. I went from being able to be outside in a Louisiana summer all day without getting burned (maybe a bit pinkish) to getting sunburned literally in 2 hours from 10-12 am, sitting in half-shade under a tree on a day I skipped the sunscreen/lotion. Don't skip the sunscreen, or you'll be in pain AND throw your whole routine off for several days!

During this time I was also taking spironolactone. Started with 50mg/day in AM, then progressively upped to 100mg in am and 100mg in PM. W/ this, I noticed decreased oiliness in my hair and skin. I posted a review of my experience w/ spiro on that page... but in short, 1) do get your potassium levels checked as recommended by dr., esp if you're taking high doses and 2) it works wonders (at least for me) for monthly flare ups if I increase my dose the 3 days before and 4 days after my period starts 3) nice unexpected side effect, I wash my hair only once a week now, instead of e/o day- it's not oily, but not dry! Perfect.

Even w the T and spiro (and BC, and morning/pm lotions/cleansers) I was still getting periodic cysts (small whitehead every 1-2 wks, a large one 1x/mo). I'd tried minacycline before (bactrim upset my stomach too badly) and the M helped, I always took full rx, but acne came back shortly after stopping. So I took an extra long course of M - 6 or 7 weeks. Finally total success. I have not had any acne for the past 2.5 months, even though I have been traveling and not great at keeping up my normal routine. NOTE: don't forget that antibiotics mess w/ intestinal bacteria! Take probiotics or eat yogurt w/ live cultures, etc. I neglected this twice and paid the price after meals including lots of veggies/fiber. Seriously important.

So... for the past 2.5 months ZERO ACNE! Also overall much nicer complexion! Still have scars fading slowly , but my face doesn't get shiny in the middle of the day; neither is it too dry. Pores are much smaller (still a little visible on nose, but no blackheads. I can live with that!). SUCCESS.

I still try to be vigilant. It was too long a road to backslide now, especially given how terrible the first few months were w/ acne and dryness.

here is my current routine:


1. wash face with skinceuticals LHA cleansing gel for oily / problematic skin (recommened by derm, OTC but I can't find in stores, have to order online. Expensive but worth it - derm stressed importance of LHAs / glycolic acids to help get rid of scars more quickly).

2. pat dry (new towel e/o day)

3. Apply a cream with benzyl peroxide, preferably also w LHA. My derm recommended Effaclar Duo - 5.5% BP, 0.4% microexfoliating LHA. OTC, 15-20$. HOWEVER also at one point to try to get rid of the last of the acne I switched this out for Rx erythromyzin / BP cream. This was effective and non-drying but expensive and HAS to be refrigerated. I'm back to the Effaclar duo which is sufficient.

4. Cetaphil SPF 30 lotion for oily skin; especially generous on drier areas. Give time to absorb *once I switched this out on my own for CeraVe am, but for some reason this did not mix well w/ the rest of my routine - flaky in day even if skin did not feel dry. Cetaphil is cheaper anyway, and derm recommended

5. Makeup - bare minerals, wash brushes at least 2x/month; use q-tips should any problematic areas occur - no double-dipping a potentially acne-bacteria-laden brush into concealer! Fortunately not a recent prob.

6. 100 mg of Spiro. Off to work. Stay well hydrated. Try not to touch face.

Plan: Should cyst start to occur, immediately start mina. also, for 1 week. take w food but no dairy.


1. Wash face (gently) with PURPOSE cleansing gel (OTC, very gentle, $5-10, can find at any CVS).

* once every 2 weeks, I now use clarisonic sensitive head, and SKIP the T

3. Liberally apply CeraVe PM. Wait 10-15 mins

4. Thinnest possible layer of T

5. Switch pillow case frequently; wrap hair in satin hair scarf to prevent transfer of oil / product (my fave: littleblackscarf). Heard silk/satin pillow cases also idea (absorb less oil) but I don't use.

6. Take BC, also take spiro if 3 days +/- mense.

This is prob the longest review ever on this site, but hopefully some of this info will be helpful to someone - adult acne can seem hopeless, and first months of T can be the PITS - and T may not be sufficient alone- but once you get to the other side, it's so worth it. Best of luck, everyone!

different experience than most
Reviewed on January 3, 2015

Ok, so I have combination skin, but mostly oily. My backstory: I got on birth control and it started to clear up, other than the few days before my period, id start to break out a little, but that was it.. then randomly my BC stopped working and my skin turned...... absolutely horrible. I had two large cysts on my face (they were super painful and about the size of a large pea under my skin) and i had dozens of blemishes, where i would usually have like one or two before. I was getting super worried bc i don't want scars! and nothing was working! I was pretty reliant on just washing my face with St. Ives Apricot Scrub. And that was all good until my BC stopped, then nothing worked at all. I went to the doctor and got prescribed Retin-A. I started my treatment December 15th. I was suuuper worried because i read all of the reviews of "its going to get a LOT worse before it gets better! just hang in there!" and i was freaking out bc i thought "it's already bad enough, i dont want to go thru more, even WORSE stuff." but i tried retin-a anyway.... with little expectations..... and here's the weird part. My skin is almost completely clear. after like 3 weeks of using it... ? I guess I'm still waiting for the 'awful' phase but like ??? my skin was getting progressively better within a week. I asked a friend who uses it too and asked how long they were using it until the "purge" phase came around and they said like 4 days. So im confused, but i guess this is good ??? Idk. I use it every night . I do a light layer on all my face then dab it on thicker on my trouble areas. It dries my skin out pretty bad ( warning to everyone who uses liquid foundation - moisturize before you put on your foundation or your skin will look like its peeling after you put your foundation on.) but yeah, i still have hyper-pigmentation, but thats no big deal to me bc 1) its better than not having acne 2) i use foundation anyway when i go out 3) my boyfriend understands my skin issues and he's super sweet. i just didn't like having painful acne. so yeah. i read something that said "don't trust anyone who says their acne got better in 2 weeks... they're lying.." but mine basically did. I'm still using it religiously, (every single night after i shower) and my skin just looks healthier. i don't know if this will help anyone but i wanted to share my experience, bc almost everything i read before i started using it said "it's gonna get so much worse before it gets better!!" and that wasn't the case for me. PS- im a 17 year old girl. thanks! (also: email me if you want to see my skin before and after - mai l,c om ( wouldnt let me put actual link )

by Jimbo913 on 01/10/2015 23:53
Try jojoba oil, it works great as moisturizer along with retin a. It is so close to human sebum it fools glands into reducing production. Buy cold pressed organic. I use Leven Rose brand and very happy.
No better than otc
Reviewed on December 31, 2014

Fairly expensive. Smelled like dream cheese. Goes on smooth and left little to no dryness. Used every day for 6 months with minocycline twice a day and my skin stayed smooth but still a lot of acne

tretinoin and coconut oil.
Reviewed on December 30, 2014

So as of today I am on week 6. My derm told me it would take about 6 weeks to see a BIT of improvement...he sure was right. My skin is so soft now and I can see my dark scars and acne slowly fading away. The first couple weeks I was using this was HELL. I don't have zits or cystic acne I just have crazy black heads that cause lots of swelling and I pick at my skin like crazy. On this it caused me to have zits and cystic acne and EXTREMLY dry and sensitive skin (I have extremly oily skin). I was really upset during these weeks and my face literally hurt when I put mosturizer on it or smiled. I went crazy!! But I have found a solution. I still use it every 2-3 days and during the days I'm not on it def the morning after, I wash my face with coconut oil. I just lather a bunch of coconut oil (organic; extra virgin) and get a wash cloth, soak it in hot water.. ring it out and wipe it off. This adds lots of mosture back into my face and it feels so good. I apply cetaphil moisturizing cream or muraid intense moisturizer. I do this every pm/am till the night I have to use the tretinion. Than I just wash my face wil cerave and apply it. My skin is so smooth and soft now, no tiny little bumps that I usually have. Black heads are still there but I'll be patient. Also good for removing full face and eye make up for you girls out there. Just do as I explained up there and after you wiped and is dry do the step over again.(Do your research in coconut oil before trying it out)

Time for a change?
Reviewed on December 28, 2014

I've used this product for 2 years and counting. Nothing has improved AT ALL and I'm sick of knowing I'm not pretty enough or good enough because acne just ruins everyone's lives. Don't use this, honestly I want to stop but somehow I still have hope that it will work

by LW175 on 01/03/2015 21:55
maybe you need to combine it with some other techniques. wasn't enough for me alone, but i also use sprionolactone (using more during days before and after my period starts), benzoyl peroxide + salycilic acid face wash and treatment in the AM, 1x / week gentle exfoliation w/ clarisonic, change pillow case e/o day, and wrap hair in satin head wrap at night to keep the oil/product off of my face... and minacycline for a week when I can feel a cyst starting to form. Took a long time to get here but so far 4 mos acne free. I'm 30 y/o female. Tretinoin is a necessary part of my routine but insufficient alone.
Made my skin sensitive to everything!!
Reviewed on December 20, 2014

I've battled with non-inflammatory acne since I was about 21 (am now 25). I have always had oily skin and always get hormonal spots around my chin but various forms of hormone and non-hormone contraceptions disrupted my skin even further, giving me more and more blocked pores and some aggressive cystic acne.

Clean and clear, clearasil, neutrogena - nothing was working so I decided to get retin a a try. I heard it was great for anti ageing purposes as well. I followed all of the instructions and waited at least fifteen minutes after washing my face before app,ting a pea sized amount gently to met face. I avoided any face washes containing salycilic acid or peroxide. I started off using it three nights a week and then started using it every other night and then to every night over a period of about two months.

I didn't really notice any improvement to my acne at all. The skin by the sides of my mouth became immediately flaky and dry and always looked quite sore so I avoided this area and then I noticed the overal flaky stage. At no point did my spots disappear or even improve - certainly not any faster than they would have just if I had just left them. My skin was always slightly red looking and became so sensitive to pretty much everything: pillowcases, mild face creams, aqueous cream and even cetaphil. I lowered the dosage back down to three times a week but it still didn't do anything other than make my face sore.

I stopped using the retin a about five months ago and now my face still reacts to EVERYTHING. The products that I used before trying retin a no longer work at all, most of them feel too harsh and abrasive. I have developed MORE blocked pores and MORE cystic acne, this time not just on my chin but also on my forehead. My acne is worse than it has ever been. Whilst retin a May not be the cause, it certainly did not help me at all.

This is just my personal experience with retin a, I have heard that many people absolutely swear by it. I did some research before using it and there are hundreds of YouTube videos singing its praises so it seems that I a, unfortunately one of the few that it really just didn't agree with!!

Just started using it..
Reviewed on December 17, 2014

I am going into my third week with using Retin-A and I am having the hardest time pushing through with this. I am 21 years old and have been battling acne since I was 15. I am reading all the reviews on how it needs to take roughly 6 months to be effective and to see results, but I am fearful that it will continue to make me break out in these purges which is resulting in these left over red spots.

People that have cleared up.. is your complexion clear of the red left over spots that these purges create?

by olivia smith on 12/18/2014 21:14
Hello,my name is Olivia,I have had acne since the age of 15,as well,I am now,55,I love this retin a,don't stop,it will get better, and better, it starts off bad,and then better,yes it a long process, but you will love it,you will look in the mirror, and smile