A few years ago, when my acne was at its worst and I failed miserably after trying just about every acne fighting product on the market, I decided it was time for Accutane. Six months later and my skin was the clearest it's ever been since my pre-teen days. Not a single pimple. Like everyone, I was terrified coming off of the drug- would my acne come back? Was it only temporary? What can I do to manage my results? And thus, my dermatologist prescribed me Retin A.
What is Retin A?
Retin A, also known as Tretinoin, is a synthetic form of vitamin a. It is a prescription cream that encourages skin cells to exfoliate and shed faster, clearing up acne, superficial scars, and even wrinkles. It's known to be a great for anti-aging and revealing a clearer, brighter complexion.
I Didn´t Purge on Retin A
About 15 days after my finished course of Accutane I began using my prescription Retin A (cream form), at a .025 percent! At first it seemed to work amazing, I had a love affair with Retin A. I used a small pea sized amount every other night, gradually building up full usage to every single night. I saw immediate results with my scarring and pores but because I didn't have any acne at the time (coming off of accutane) my skin never purged.
For months it was great, my skin was completely clear, and if it did flare up with little whiteheads the Retin A would calm down my breakouts in as little as a day or two. However, after about 8 months my skin was so irritated. No matter how much moisturizer I slathered on, my skin was nonstop flaking off and sensitive to even the smallest everyday things.
For example, I went ice skating for a few hours once and ended up with a windburn, and it wasn't even THAT cold! And another (basically everyday) activity that really irritated my skin was kissing my husband, which obviously wasn’t something I could just quit doing. Beard or no beard, it was like sandpaper against my skin and would turn my skin bright red, cause excessive irritation, and make my skin breakout in little bumps that resembled acne and would last for about a week or more.
I powered through the irritation, dryness, and warmness a few months longer but, after 8 months it was no longer working; my cystic acne returned full force. I think, as with most skincare products I use, they work for a few months until my body decides to build up a resistance and generally becomes less responsive.
What Finally Convinced Me to Quit Retin A
As if this wasn't reason enough, there are few more HUGE factors that finally convinced me to throw that tube away.
- In a Retin A trial against a placebo, it was found those who applied Retin A .01% topically once a day had a much than those who did not. I don't know about you but, if I would've known that a prescription acne cream was increasing my chances of dying, I probably wouldn't have started using it.
- Retin A interferes with your body’s ability to use natural sources of vitamin A. When vitamin A is ingested it turns it retinoic acid and binds to our retinoid receptors which helps with our eyesight, skin, brain, and our liver (among various other bodily functions). Retin A is already retinoic acid, meaning that once applied it binds directly with retinoid receptors which can interfere with many different bodily functions. Because our skin health is a window into how our body and mind is functioning, this suggests that the longer you use retin A, the worse your results could get.
- Retin A isn’t a long term fix (or at least wasn’t for me). I got to the point where I realized that if I really wanted to treat my acne I needed to start looking at the root cause and treating it internally rather than relying on creams and lotions that only worked temporarily.
I Made the Decision to go Natural
After countless treatments only working temporarily (yes, even after Accutane my acne returned) I decided that Retin-A just wasn’t for me. It was only masking the issue like a Band-Aid, without addressing root causing I truly felt that my acne would never fully heal.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, at the time I felt that I needed it for clear skin. And there are certain days like birthdays or anniversaries where you just want clear skin, so it's great to have an option like Retin A to help you out with that.
But I didn't like relying on Retin A as a long-term solution. I couldn't see myself staying on it for years. Instead of relying on it to keep my acne at bay or treat existing pimples, I wanted to start working on prevention and permanently improving my skin through diet, exercise, natural skincare products, and my overall health in general.
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Kali Kushner, known as the Instagram alias myfacestory, is a natural beauty advocate in the greater Cincinnati area who is passionate about using organic skincare and holistic remedies to heal acne from the inside out. Her dedication lies in her own chronic acne struggles as she continues to restore herself while helping those around her.