Retin-A Is Worth It, But Makes Your Skin Peel. Photos and a Video of My Experience.

Tags: woman age 25-34 acne photos insurance cystic acne dark spots hyperpigmentation blackheads

Overall procedure rating

Practice & Staff

  • 5 -
    Ease of scheduling an appointment
  • 5 -
    Office environment, cleanliness, comfort...
  • 5 -
    Staff friendliness and courteousness

Overall experience with the procedures

  • 5 -
    Level of trust in provider's decisions
  • 5 -
    How well provider explained procedure(s)
  • 5 -
    How well provider listens to and answers questions
  • 5 -
    Amount of time provider spent with you

Procedure specific satisfaction rating


Performed 2016

Zwivel Rating

I first started using Retin-A Micro .1% in 2011 to help keep my acne-prone skin under control (blackheads, whiteheads, cystic acne, and everything in between), and even my skin tone by reducing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots) left behind from breakouts. At the time, I was using the brand name pump version of Retin-A micro. I worked up to using it almost nightly and my skin adjusted after about 6 weeks. I experienced some peeling along the way but nothing too bad. I also experienced a small initial breakout (it probably lasted about a week) where my skin was purging. I was relieved it wasn’t as bad as what some people seem to experience.

Within a few months, my skin was the best it had been in many years. My skin texture was smooth, even-toned, some small fine lines had dissipated and breakouts were completely under control. It looked very youthful, healthy and had a nice glow to it. I had to quit using it when I got pregnant in 2012 and was not able to start Retin-A micro again until the end of 2015 (after two pregnancies and many months of breastfeeding).

This time around, my insurance only covered generic brand Retin-A micro. It seems similar but I miss the old pump bottle that protected the cream from the air. I worked up to using it twice per week and was seeing great results but had to stop in preparation for a ProFractional treatment. I waited several months after my ProFractional treatment to start using Retin-A again. My skin is having a hard time re-adjusting to it. Even with once-per-week use, I get very dry, red, and flaky & I even had a couple of little breakouts. Around week 4-5 is when I really started noticing a difference in my skin, the quality of my skin is better and it is firmer.

When applying it, I make sure to have a clean face that is completely dry (I let it dry for 10 min. after washing it). I have tried various methods to help with the flakiness and peeling I am experiencing - applying moisturizer before Retin-A, applying moisturizer a few minutes after, and mixing Retin-A with moisturizer. I'll have to keep experimenting with different modes of application. Otherwise, I might need to start using a less potent version (maybe a retinol product from the drugstore) and work back up to more frequent applications.

I still think Retin-A is wonderful and has a lot of great benefits - especially for temperamental, acne-prone skin. However, sensitive types (which I guess I now have, at least for the time being, might need to work up to it slowly). It’s also crucial to remember to wear sunscreen every day since Retin-A can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. You do not want your skin to get sun damage, so please make sure you wear sun protection every single day!

I'm hoping I can eventually work back up to my previous regimen. Between how great it made my skin look and all the years of science behind it, I believe Retin-A is an extremely beneficial part of taking care of my skin. I firmly believe it is one of the best anti-aging products on the market and should be part of your daily skin care regimen, but only if you don't suffer from sensitive skin and can handle it.

Dr. Cynthia Hart

Ashland, WI