If you have been following my blog for a while now, you know I have been battling acne for about two years now. I have moderate acne, ranging around 10-15 active spots at a time, most of the time. I did get my acne under control for about six months right after I started using my Clairsonic, and I was down to 1-2 active spots at any given time (it was amazing!). That ended up not lasting and for the last six months or so I have been on the battle field again, and I haven’t found anything that really changed my skin.
After trying a slew of products, going off/on the Clairsonic, using a washcloth, using oil cleansers, using balm cleansers, using acid toners (the list of what I have tried goes on and on) I decided to take this issue to a professional. My doctor recommended a retinol product. The one I got a prescription for (this is a prescription product, you can’t get it over the counter) is a 0.025% cream which has the active ingredient of retinoic acid, a form of Vitamin A that is slightly chemically different from the retinol you can get in products over the counter (which have the same parent of Vitamin A, but the prescription version is a more active chemical compound [aka has more bonding sites, let me know if you want me to get all chemistry nerd on you in another post] and much stronger).
I have only just started using this, so its hard to say if this has made a big difference in my acne for the long haul. It is very harsh and drying on the skin, which is why my whole skincare routine has changed lately. I have also been easing my way into using this product, I started by only applying once every other or every third night and now I use it every night in a very thin layer all over my face.
The first thing I have noticed (besides my peeling skin, which is a very common side effect) is that any active acne I do have passes much more quickly than before I started using this product. It is also helping clear up hyper pigmentation more quickly. Both are a product of the retinoic acid, which increases cell turnover rate. You basically get snake skin on your face, the cells die and regenerate at a higher rate due to the retinoic acid, so acne turns over and dark spots fade more quickly. Its been a hard start, I have never had to deal with seriously dry and peeling skin (with my same oily skin under the peeling top layer, its been a real trial, my biggest tip would be to use less of this than you think and start slow).
The routine I have now has balanced my new skin, I’m not peeling or dry much anymore (thats also due to my skin adjusting to the product). I’m using more gentle products on the whole, since this cream really does a number on my skin, and for the first time in a long time my skin needs pampering and hydration.
This kind of a product is really one I wish I didn’t have to use. It is very harsh, and I would much rather be able to pick up a nice cleanser at Sephora and never have to worry about a prescription or the prospect of my chin peeling if I used too much product the night before. This is also a product you need to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about (clearly as its a prescription), and it is not a solution for everyone. Heck, I don’t even know if its my solution yet. I can see that its helping my acne, but I don’t yet see less acne. I wanted to clue you into what is going on with my skin, and I will be keeping you up to date on my progress with this product (sorry for the mega long post) but I wanted to let you guys know what has been going on with my skin, since it greatly affects how I review products. I still have oily skin, it just has a tendency to dry and peeling patches now (which is greatly improved and mostly under control, so were back to just oily now).
A big caution is that a product this harsh is really only for people with acne that has not responded to over the counter treatment and is something more than average. If you get some spots here and there, this is not for you. Its harsh (and my skin used to take all kinds of harsh treatments, it was the antithesis of sensitive), and getting used to it is no fun at all (speaking from experience).
If you made it this far into the post, thank you for reading my ramblings. Let me know if you have ever tried a retinoic acid, or if you just enjoy retinol products (I know I loved retinols before this, and heck I still do).