Is Retin A Safe? Why I Stopped Using Retin A

March 04, 2019 4 min read 0 Comments

Is Retin A Safe? Why I Stopped Using Retin A

By Kali Kushner

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 forAccutane. 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 meRetin A for acne in case it came back.

What is Retin A?

Retin A, also known asTretinoin, isasynthetic form of vitamin a. It is aprescription cream that encourages skin cells to exfoliate and shed faster, clearing up acne, superficial scars, and evenwrinkles. It's known to be great for anti-aging and revealing a clearer, brighter complexion.

I Didn´t Purge on Retin A


About 15 days after my finished course ofAccutane I began using my prescriptionRetin A (cream form), at a .025 percent! At first, it seemed to work amazing, I had a love affair withRetin A. I used a small pea-sized amount every other night, gradually building up to 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 ofaccutane) my skin never purged.

For months it was great, my skin was completely clear, and if it did flare up with little whiteheads theRetin 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 so using the Retin A for acne was starting to sensitive my skin.

For example, I went ice skating for a few hours once and ended up with a windburn, and it wasn't evenTHAT cold! And another (basically everyday) activity thatreally 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 break out 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 Using Retin A For My Acne

As if this wasn't reason enough, there are few moreHUGEfactors that finally convinced me to throw that tube away.

Top 3 Reasons I Stopped Using Retin A For Acne

  1. Higher Mortality Rate With Retin A. In a Retin A trial against a placebo, it was found those who appliedRetin A .01% topically once a day had a muchhigher mortality rate 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.
  2. Retin A interferes with your body’s ability to use natural sources of vitamin A.When vitamin A isingested it turns itretinoic acid and binds toour retinoid receptorswhichhelp with our eyesight, skin, brain, andour liver (among various other bodily functions).Retin A is already retinoicacid, meaning that once applied it binds directly with retinoid receptors which can interferewithmany different bodily functions.Because our skin health is a window into how our body and mind is functioning, this suggests that the longer you useRetin A, the worse your results could get
  3. 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 afterAccutane my acne returned) I decided thatRetin-A just wasn’t for me. It was only masking the issue like a Band-Aid, without addressing root causes 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 justwantclear skin, so it's great to have an option likeRetinAto help you out with that.

But I didn't like relying onRetin 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.

Did you try Retin A for acne?  Let me know your experience in the comments! 

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