How to Start Using the Anti-Aging Gold Standard

How to use Tretinoin Cream on your skin to help with fine lines and wrinkles.

“Forty isn’t old if you’re a tree.” – my friend’s Dad’s bumper sticker in high school

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, scientist nor claim to have any medical knowledge. Most of this research comes from the web, and many conversations with my doctors and aestheticians, along with my personal experience! Please ask your doctor for info and advice prior to using any retinol.

Retinoids should also not be used while pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

What is Tretinoin?

Tretinoin is a general name for medication used to treat acne and sun-damaged skin. It works to help improve the look of surface wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and all the fun aging issues skin has! You can find Tretinoin sold under various different names.

Difference between Retinol and Tretinoin

RetinolTretinoin
a natural form of vitamin Aa synthetic version of vitamin A
milder and less irritating to sensitive skinstronger than retinol 
available without a prescription only available with a prescription
found in many over-the-counter cosmetics and skin care productsnot as well tolerated by sensitive skin 
Source: HealthLine

My Skincare with Tretinoin

My skincare regime includes using Tretinoin cream. I’ve worked up to using .1%, which is the highest strength available with a prescription, but this took many years. I started slowly and with the smallest strength just like I’m recommending here.

Tretinoin works by affecting the growth of skin cells and making them turnover faster so you get new skin cells faster. It’s a superpower exfoliant! Tretinoin does not repair sun-damaged skin or reverse aging due to sun exposure, though it sure doesn’t hurt.

I use this cream three-four times a week depending on how my skin is feeling to help with the inevitable aging! Every time I see a woman with beautiful skin I ask her about her routine. Sometimes it’s genetics – lucky ducks! But often time I’m told they use Tretinoin like products. They tell me to start now and never stop!

Obaji Tretinoin in .1% strength. This is the strongest Tretinoin strength they make.

Recommendation for Beginning Usage

Many people start using Tretinoin and stop due to redness, peeling, flaking and increased acne. Yes, all of this can and will happen. In fact, it should happen – that’s how you know it’s working! It’s de-gunking your skin and increasing the cell turnover! Tretinoin is a superpower exfoliant. It’s getting rid of the dead cells faster and bringing in new cells. So you have to give your skin time to go through this initial process.

Do not stop. Suffer through those early weeks/months of not looking so hot. The beauty is on the other end! The key is a slow and steady increase. This is my suggestion of what has worked for me.

My Weekly Recommendation for Beginning

Month OneUse Tretinoin once a week. 20-30 minutes after applying, top it off on a light moisturizer.
Month TwoUse Tretinoin twice a week. Apply the moisturizer again 30 minutes.
Month ThreeUse Tretinoin once a week with no moisturizer.
Month FourUse Tretinoin twice a week, but not two days in a row.
Going ForwardAdd days as your skin will tolerate. Continue as your skin dictates. If your skin is still very dry, back off using it to one day a week but do not stop using it.

Note, I removed moisturizer. This is up to you. I prefer to use the medication fully leaded, and not risk deluding it, but my skin is different than yours. There’s no right or wrong way.

Areas to apply Tretinoin

  • Forehead
  • Temple for Crows Feet Lines
  • Cheeks
  • Forehead
  • Bridge of nose
  • Chin Area
  • Temple for Crows Feet Lines
  • Top of Hands
  • Neck
  • Chest/Decolatage
Why I use Tretinoin for anti-aging skincare and how you can start using it.

Important to Note

  • Avoid delicate areas like nasal folds & eye area. Retinoids need to be applied at night. In candid honesty, I do apply the tiniest bit to my eye area just below my eyebrows, and under my eyes. I also put some just over the top of my lips below the nose, but again, I’ve built up a tolerance. Ask your doctor about this.
  • Apply at night. Do not wear during the day! The chemicals break down when exposed to the sun, so the impact will be greater if on the skin all night.
  • Wash hands after using.
  • Do not use if pregnant, or trying to become pregnant.

Retinoid Tips:

  • Moisturize the heck out of your skin! Every morning, wash your skin with the softest cleanser possible. I use Cetaphil Skin Cleanser (not the face cleanser – I find the skin cleanser gentler on my skin.)
  • At night, wash your make-up off with a moisturizing cleanser. I love, love, adore, adore the Clinique Take the Day off cleanser. I use this and a warm washcloth. The washcloth gives a soft exfoliation and the cleanser removes makeup gently and leaves your skin supple and ready for the Tretinoin.
  • Ditch your Clarisonic. Too abrasive. Your skin will catch on fire!
  • Go easy on any other exfoliants. Remember, Tretinoin is an exfoliant. So baby your skin. This is doing a ton of work so you don’t need more exfoliating!
What's the difference between Retinol and Tretinoin and how to start using tretinoin.

Where to Buy Tretinoin

I get mine from my dermatologist, but plastic surgeons have access to them. You can also find high levels of the retinoid in products from Obaji. During Quarantine, you can call Dr. Kavali’s office and she’ll ship you some!

OTC Retinols I use (lower potency than Tretinoin)

Obaji Retinol | Differin Gel | The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid

Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

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