So my skin was looking shitty, but in the past two weeks it has really turned a corner. I went back to my derm who agreed that for 13 weeks for retina my skin looked pretty terrible. He highly recommended my starting accutane, but after three months of side effects I wanted to stick with the retin a for three more months before quitting, hell maybe my skin would get better and I could avoid accutane. He changed my retin a from a .1% gel to a .05% cream and wrote me a perscription for doxycycline (100mg for 10 days) and clindamycin phosphate solution.
I immediately liked the .05% cream better than the gel, it didn't feel as immediately caustic and rubbed in to my skin like lotion unlike the gel which was noticable on my skin after I put it on. I took the oral antibiotics and but only used the clindamycin once before tossing it because it was sticky, didn't moisturize, and I just didn't want it on my face in the morning/couldn't use it under makeup.
Its been about three weeks and my skin looks way better. I have had ZERO new pimples in the past week for the first time ever, which is even more surprising as I have an exam tomorrow and normally my skin is a mess of scabs and pimples. My skin is noticably clearer and smoother. The peeling has stopped to the point where I can wear loose mineral powder foundation. I think that cerave and vaseline have both really helped with the dryness as well. My face still has a ton of little red spots of PIH but I swear they are looking better everyday that goes by. I'm feeling optimistic you guys. Hopefully this is a long term improvement and not just a short "good week". I"ll keep you all updated.
For anyone else out there on retin a, do not give up. Sometimes it takes longer for it to work, the effects are largely long term. Three weeks ago I was going to switch to accutane because I was so fed up and now I am glad I stuck with it. The change in the past three weeks for my skin has been more drastic than all of the time before that. My skin went from totally shitty to toally clear in about a week, so even if your skin looks terrible now you never know when it will turn a corner!
12 Week update: A couple of weeks ago I started using Cerave moisturizing cream (the one in the big tub). My skin was so dry I was putting on two thick layers before going to bed at night and one more in the morning. I stopped using aloe and any of the oils because honestly I just felt like they were making my breakouts worse. In terms of dryness and peeling the Cerave cream saved my face. It moisturized in a way nothing else I have tried has, better than coconut oil, aveeno, or the regular Cerave am/pm lotions. The difference in moisture in my skin is unbelievable. I only use it once a day now in the mornings because honestly by the time I remember to wash my face at night and then wait 30 minutes to put on the Retina I don't feel like waiting another 20-30 to put on lotion after, plus I really havn't needed it. For anyone using retinoids who is struggling with dry skin/peeling I cannot say enough about this. The big downside is it is far from all natural, and has parabens, but honestly I do not think I could have kept up with retin a without it and best of all I CAN WEAR MAKE UP AGAIN PRAISE THE LORD!!! The general statement is you should start seeing improvement in your skin by 12 weeks. I am not breaking out as much as I was several weeks ago, though I still get pimples in the exact same spots. The overall quality of my skin compared to starting retina however is much worse. The past 12 weeks have left my lower cheeks/chin with a landscape of hyperpigmentation (hopefully temporary and not forever scars eeep?) that have lasted much longer than any mark a pimple left before I started using retin a. I do have really bad dermatillomania and Retin a did not help that, maybe those who don't pick will have better luck. For anyone else who picks, I found that putting some vaseline on the open wound works better than honey when your skin is this sensitive, it has helped my sores heal much faster. While I am bummed that my skin doesn't look better, I knew going into this that Retin a takes FOREVER to show actual results, so I'm sticking with it. I'm meeting with my derm next week to discuss my progress, but the current plan is to stick with this for the full six months before deciding if I should quit or not. Now that my skin isn't as peely I can actually wear make up over my atrocious skin, which makes it easier for me to be in public without feeling like a freak. I wanted to thank everyone who reached out to me after my last post, it means so much to have support from people going through the same thing and knowing its not the end of the world. Thank you all so much for your advice, and encouragement. Peace, love, CeraVe
I am almost two months in, and I am having an absolute melt down. My skin is so much worse than it has ever been. After a week without too many new breakouts but deep flaking and constantly redness stinging and blotchiness I started doing coconut oil twice a day under my aloe vera and washing with sunflower oil instead of face wash or honey. I will say it helped with the blotchiness and peeling alot, and helped center myskin back to normal in terms of dryness. However, for the past couple of days I have had the worst clogged pores ever, and inflamed cyst like pimples EVERYWHERE on my face. I have never had so many pimples and clogged pores at once and in places I don't normally break out as much, my face, the upper parts of my forehead, my upper lip, and all of my pores look clogged even those that aren't actively red as pimples.
I'm not sure if its because I had my period (which does usually make me break out more but usually its whiteheads around my chin), the cerave (which may have caused the redness/peeling since it was new to my routine) or the coconut oil which I had dailed back a bit on prior, but I can't afford to have my skin look like this. My skin has not looked this bad for years, I'm not even sure it was this bad the last time I used retina 4 years ago. I look terrible, I have pimples everywhere and none of my old pimples totally heal. They heal incredibly slowly and leave behind long lasting dark red marks, and the rest of my skin looks dull and peely. My compulsive picking has gotten worse and my forehead looks like I have measels again.
Its starting to have a HUGE affect on my self confidence. I used to be able to largely ignore the fact that my skin looked terrible, but now its been going on for so long and just getting worse that I no longer want to leave my house. Before I started retina I had breakouts, but I could cover them up and as a whole my skin was clear. Now my skin looks terrible all the time, with and without make up. I am not going to give up, I know it can take up to six months to see the full effects of retin a, but I will say if I were ever going to give up it would be now. My skin hurts, is broken out on every part of my face, is red and angry and flakey and scaby and pimply, and as I look back on pictures taken two months ago I wish I had never started using retin A at all. At this point though I can only move forward so might as well stick with it....
Oh PS one thing I did find about the aloe vera: in the morning after I wash my face I will put on a thick moisterizer with sunscreen, let it soak in for 10 minutes, then put a layer of aloe vera on top as a primer for my foundaiton. The aloe will make skin look less flakey under liquid foundaiton if applied carefully, but if you accidentally peel off part of the aloevera it peels off with the skin and can make flakes look worse.
So its day 50, the human snake continues. I tried using aloe vera at night and in the morning before my usual moisturizer and then applying cerave on top after it set in. The aloe stings alot, I don't think its the fault of the aloe but more my face being sensitive. I like to pretend its healing and pray that it is. The first and second time I did this my skin looked way better, the peeling was less noticable and my make up went on smoother and stayed on for almost the whole day without flakes. However now after a few days my skin is flaking agin but MUCH more, with larger thicker flakes and my face is much redder and blotchier. I can't put make up on at all now. Has anyone had any experience like this with aloe vera, did it improve, or what mistakes am I making?
Day 46- Retin A oh the struggle. I have been using my retin a everyday for over two weeks and damn is my skin peeling. I am the human snake. It is not particularly red or irritated looking but I wake up with flakes, scrub them all off, moisturize, put on light make up. By mid afternoon my skin looks alittle dry and my make up looks alittle uneven and by nighttime you can tell the entire top layer of my skin is flaking off and shedding. My skin is cycling unbelievably fast, I cannot understand how my entire face is ready to shed off twice a day but it is. It makes wearing make up challening and no manner of moisterizing helps. It would look alot better without make up ( you would notice the flakes less) but I do have alot of red spots and scars that are fresh and need to be hidden. I have stopped using honey twice a day simply because my bathroom is very cold so the granules crystalize making it a great exfoliator but also a bit abrasive to be used twice a day when my skin is this thin. Usually I'll wash my face with neutrogena ultra gentle clensor or sunflower oil at night, moisterize all over with cerave pm and alittle coconut oil on super dry spots. In the morning I'll wash my face with honey, leave it on for 10 minutes, then moisturize with cerave am and put on my make up.
As I have mentioned before I have a pretty bad compulsive skin picking problem. Med school has made this much worse and if you pick like I do you have to be VERY careful with Retina. Retina will help your scars fade and give you a more even skin tone eventually, and its not that the purging stage is that bad at this point, but my skin is very thin. If I pick at even closed comedomes on my forehead I will leave ulcer like lesions that stay red for a while. I have really struggled not to pick but before my last test I did pick at some spots on my forhead and it looked so bad my mom asked if I had measles The bright side is pimples that do form will cycle quickly and go away if you COMPLETELY leave them alone, which is borderline impossible (I have never had a zit I didn't pick). But if a pimple almost has a head in the morning, if you make it all day without picking by the time you wash your face at night the pimple will open with your scrub and you can gently drain it. There have been some big suckers coming up on my cheecks and chin lately which is also my main site of peeling.
Honestly, my skin does look way worse than when I started retin A. It looks awful. But I have done this before and I know you just have to keep on trucking and I can't wait to hit that 6 month mark.
Ok so alittle over a month in. My skin is less dry flakey all the time but still alittle peely. My biggest problem is the stress of medical school is making my face picking really bad and I am giving myself scars picking at very small or nonexistent clogged pores. The honey really helps heal my face wounds and keep my skin plump and hydrated even with the retin a. This is my second time breaking my skin into retin a and so far nothing has worked as well as a gentle clensor as this raw honey!
Ok! So a brief history. I was a late bloomer with acne, it started getting bad my senior year of high school and peaked my freshman year of college. I had pimples all over my face, mostly on my cheeks, around my mouth, and my chin. They were those nice inflammed suckers with a white head you just want to pop. I assume the stress of going away to college had alot to do with it but I was a mess, and had a ton of scars. I started retina around november that year as a last ditch effort. My doctor had tried prescribing it for years and I never felt like keeping up with it/ I love to tan so it would never work. I finally said yes to it and committed. It was miserable for a long time, my skin burned, was flakey, broke out worse and was flakey, was red and ugly until finally it got better about six months later. When it got better it got WAY better, and my skin looked fabulous for several years while I used retina sparingly like once a week ish. It helped with my zits but what it did for my acne scars saved my face.
Flash forward. I got lazy. I wanted to tan. went off retin a, my skin got worse. It wasn't horrible like it was freshman year but I had occasional breakouts and my skin was never consistently clear. The summer before college I stopped taking birth control and I started to get cysts on my forehead. I also started washing my face with coconut oil and sunflower oil. My skin gradually got horrible. I started medical school this year and my skin looked just terrible. I decided enough was enough, its time to bring back my bff retin a, round two, and hopefully stay on it the rest of my life because I cannot handle this.
9/14 Started Retin A Micro .01%. I used it once a week, then twice a week, and took atleast two days off between applications for the first three weeks. I have heard contradicting opinions on whethor to ease your skin into it as slowly as possible or try to get upt to using it once a day as soon as possible. I have very sensitive skin, so I chose the former. The first two weeks even with light use my skin started flaking like a mofo. I was washing my face with neutrogena super gentle face wash everyday and moisturizing with aveeno's radiant lotion in the mornings, and washing my face with sunflower oil at night. I started applying coconut oil to my skin at night for extra moisture and some on top of my lotion (it has spf so I have to use it in the morning) on the dry spots of my face in the morning. After the first two weeks I shed alot and still do. As for the purging, it is not great. At first a few small pimples with a head would pop up when I woke up in the morning, but they didn't even need to be popped they just scrubbed off when I washed my face. Then Clusters started forming as some nasty stuff came from deep inside my face. They were not cysts but they weren't normal pimples either, and not picking at them was the bane of my existance. over the course of a few days they would slowly get larger, then I would pick at them and they would look terrible. Then they would slowly heal and a few days would go by where my skin looked great untill another cluster would appear and they cycle would repeat. Every two weeks I go from looking like a disgusting freak to semi normal and back again. I have had a few days inbetween with really smooth skin though!
Even the super gentle neutrogena wash made my skin feel dry and tight after washing, I did not have that experience with the sunflower oil but with acne prone skin I have never really trusted the OCM and wanted to use it sparingly. OCM as a face wash tends to make my forehead break out/clogs my pores but I love the moisture, while using coconut oil on my face just as a moisterizer doesn't clog my pores as much and really helps with the flaking (DO NOT USE ON FORHEAD THOUGH).
One week ago I started using trader joes raw honey on my face as a cleansor in the morning and at night, sometimes still using sunflower oil if I had heavy eye make up at night. To anyone on Retin A, Raw Honey is the answer. It is the only face wash that didn't leave my skin feeling dry and tight, it helped heal my breakouts, it is lightly exfoliating to help get rid of that shedding dead skin. I mean its a godsend. I usually just wash my face with it like it was a normal face wash, sometimes I'll leave it on like a mask for 20 minutes. I also use it as a spot treatment for my wounded acne. I cannot stop picking at my face and leave huge wounds which the honey helps heal.
4 weeks in: The dry skin has gotten better, I can finally wear foundation without looking stupid, but its still happening.I am starting to use retin A every day finally, still loving the honey as a wash and coconut oil as a moisturizer. Anything else stings my skin. I am currently recovering from my last cluster which left some lovely red marks all over my chin but no new pimples. Aside from the area around my mouth though, my skin is unbelievably smooth and soft and radient.
I have used retin a before, so I know the breaking in period can be brutally long, feel hopeless and you want to give up. I had to keep using it last time for six months without seeing any real results. Then without me even realizing it my skin became really really great. Can't wait to get there.....