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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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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
kind of clearing up
Reviewed on December 16, 2014

already been using tretinoin for 9 weeks and i get lesser pimples now and they go away much faster. nonetheless, i still get pimples and it sucks. my hyperpigmentation scars are lightening up so that's good. although i now have oily skin, i don't know if it's because of my puberty and my androgens acting up or because of the tretinoin.

so if anyone could help me with the oily skin problem please do comment. thanks! will update after a month

by olivia smith on 12/18/2014 21:18
I have had oily skin all my life,but since using retin a is more,oily, than I can imagine, only in the nose section, plus my nose is lighter than the rest of my face,which I hate,but don't quit,it's a process, and it will get better
by tashadabest on 12/22/2014 19:00
switch to dans regimen to acne. org TRUST ME! i honestly almost gave up until i decided to give dans regimen a try. depending on how bad your acne is, it would clear your skin within two weeks
4 Months of scarring and frustration
Reviewed on October 30, 2014

*Advice or comments are encouraged.

I have had mild-moderate acne since I was 13 and I am now almost 21. I decided that I want to have completely clear skin. I was previously only using soap in the mornings and my face had maybe 3-5 pimples at a time. On tretinon, it took me back to my middle school acne where I have acne all over that I am trying to hide with hoodies, collars, etc. I saw the dermatologist and he put me on .025% tretinoin and told me to use a benzoyl peroxide wash in the mornings. I can't say I went through an initial purge. A constant purge is more appropriate. I went from have pimples to having zits and cysts, some of which had to be injected to remove and left scars. My skin would look like it was starting to clear and then it would erupt with acne-so depressing to be so close. I was boosted to .05 in month 2 and same thing. My skin broke out and cleared up super-fast, but it was a continuous thing. Today has been month 3 and I have been using .1% for a week with the same results. This stuff makes your skin look smooth, but it also makes you look like you have been out in the sun and your skin is dried out. It is frustrating to get new zits where you have dry skin. Anyway, this has been a last ditch effort before accutane. I will use for another month with my fingers crossed. I have followed the instructions completely and have maintained a healthy diet.

Read the reviews here, but IGNORE the people that said they have used it for a week or two and their skin cleared. It does not work that fast and they have yet to go through the initial purge, which lasts much longer! Also, ignore the reviewers who were prescribed an antibiotic at the same time. It is more likely the antibiotic clearing the skin rather than the tretinoin.