I started using Retin-A or prescription vitamin A, about 15 years ago when I was introduced to it by a dermatologist. He basically said, “Here’s a cream that’s called Zorac. It’s 1% vitamin A- put it on your face every night and it will work miracles.”
I was all but 35 and I didn’t have any wrinkles, but I thought it was a great idea for me. I had lots of sun damage on my skin and pigmentation, but once I started putting it on my face, my face literally peeled off. It was a disaster. It was very strong and my skin wasn’t prepared for that intensity, so it became red and flaky. I didn’t have enough knowledge to know that I wasn’t doing it properly.
However, over the past few years I’ve been able to experiment more and I now have a foolproof method of using prescriptions vitamin A where I get great results without all the pain and suffering.
Based on my own research and experience, I wanted to share with you some commonly asked questions and answers about retin-A cream, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to use it.
Why should I use a prescription vitamin A?
Dr. Davin Lim, a board-certified laser dermatologist, calls the most important results of a retinoic acid vitamin A cream the 4 P’s: pimples, pores and pigmentation are all reduced while it provides powerful anti-aging effects.
Here are some more of the incredible benefits it can have on women over 50:
- It purges old skin cell and helps new ones form
- It stimulates cells to produce collagen
- It increases blood flow
- It reverses sun damage
It’s an all-over wonder cream for mature-aged skin! Even if you don’t start using prescription vitamin A until you’re already 50 years old, you can still get these incredible benefits.
How do I use prescription vitamin A cream?
- Wash your face: Make sure it’s super clean and dry. It has to be very, very dry.
- Apply a pea-sized amount of your retin-A: The retin-A that I use is a first generation retinol called Stieva-A and it’s .05%. Dab the pea sized amount all over your face and rub it around. Apply the cream everywhere, even on your eyebrows. However, be very careful with the areas around your nose and mouth because that’s where you’ll get the reddest and peel the most if you apply too much and avoid applying the cream to your chest and neck, as it will burn. After the cream is pat in your face, it will go dry.
- Apply Epionce Medical Barrier Cream: This is an optional step, but I have found it to be so helpful. I use two products to avoid irritation.The first product is called Epionce Medical Barrier Cream. All I do is apply a small amount and press it in over the top of the vitamin A cream. I’ve found that since I started doing this, the peeling has reduced so much. I can still tell that my skin is being rejuvenated- but I just don’t have the irritation and the redness and the itchiness. If you’re just starting to use vitamin A cream, I definitely recommend using this. Shop for Epionce Medical Barrier Cream here.
- Apply Cacay Oil: This step is also optional, but it helps to ease redness and irritation that could be caused by the vitamin A cream. I was actually introduced to this by Natalie The Beauty Diva on YouTube. I use the cacay oil on my face and on my chest. It’s a natural source of vitamin A sourced in the Amazon and it’s cold-pressed, so it doesn’t irritate your skin. You can even add a bit of it into your moisturizer and use it for the daytime. Shop for Cacay Oil here.
- Remove the retin-A cream in the morning: This step is really important. When you wake up in the morning, it’s essential that you wipe everything off because you can’t go out into the sun with the retin-A on your face. So make sure you cleanse really well- even double cleanse to get it all off.
- Apply sunscreen: The last step is the most crucial. If you haven’t used a high prescription vitamin A before, when you start using it and go out into the sun, your skin will get very tingly and light-sensitive so a really good sunscreen is vital.
How often should I use prescription vitamin A?
Well, I was using it- as I said- every second day at 1% and my face fell off, so I don’t suggest you do that. What I have found out since from my doctor is that you should start very slow-. If you’re new to retin-A cream, start at .25% once a week and see how your skin goes.
If your skin’s going great, start using it twice a week and then if your skin’s still great, start using it three times a week. And when you’ve run out of that .25%, go up to .5% and then trial the same way. If you like, you can go up to 1% but you must get your skin ready for this. Otherwise, it will go crazy and you’ll just be irritated and frustrated.
When will I start noticing results from my retin-A cream?
I started noticing results quite quickly because I was using such a high dose very frequently. So all of my skin was peeling off and then the new skin was regenerating underneath. If you’re going slower and less aggressively- which I recommend- your peeling will be a lot more minimal, but results will take longer to achieve.You should start to notice results anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months.
What am I going to notice?
For me I just notice that my skin glows a lot more; it’s more radiant, tight and refreshed. I won’t say that using vitamin A gets rid of wrinkles, because I still have some very deep wrinkles. But what it does do is smooth out the skin around your wrinkles so that skin is more tight and plump. It does help get rid of tiny wrinkles and fine lines, but not the deep wrinkles.
What is the difference between a first and third generation vitamin A cream?
First generation vitamin A creams, like Stieva or Retrieve were invented in the 1990’s. They do still work, but there are differences between this generation and others. Second generation vitamin-A creams include Differin, which causes less irritation. However, there’s a paradox. Third generation retin-A creams, like Zorac, provide the best exfoliation but the worst irritation.
Why should I mix first and third generation retin-A creams?
Different retinoids bind on different retinoid-activating receptors, which means that they create unique DNA transcriptions and provide collagen. By using different retinoids from different generations, you can work with different RAIs.”
I hope that you found this guide to using retin-A helpful! I know that using retin-A cream regularly has made a drastic difference in my fine lines and wrinkles, overall complexion and my confidence. If you’re thinking about trying it out for yourself, I say go for it! Just make sure to do it safely and slowly.
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Many thanks for this interesting article on Retin A. I’ve started using it again recently.
Checked both the sites you recommend to get the cream and the oil but they are out of stock.
I was wondering if using my usual ordinary night cream would fit as well, on top the Retin A.
All the best for 2021!
Winter time I am using 0.2% retinol – Night Ritual Vitamin A™ cream. I mix a small amount of the cream and almost the same amount of ” Honey skin”- Ultimate body and face cream right before applying on the clean face and neck. No irritation, no red spots with that combination.
All the best