5-Year Retin-A Results ~ Before & After for Wrinkles & Anti-Aging

In today’s post, I’m doing a 5-Year Retin-A Update showing results on wrinkles in Before & After photos.

I started using prescription Retin-A 5 years ago when I turned 50. I did updates at 9 months, 2 years, and 3 years, but after the 3-year update I got a Fraxel Dual Laser treatment done so I wasn’t going to do any more Retin-A updates. In my mind doing a procedure like Fraxel would “blur the lines” between what Retin-A was responsible for and what the laser was responsible for. But, I had so many requests to do a 4-year and more recently a 5-year update that I decided to do it. . .

So, just to be clear, this update is for those who want to see my Before & After pictures even though I’ve had the laser treatment (and sometimes use Botox and/or fillers), it’s for those who understand that I’m a real person and I use other skincare and procedures. This is an at-home experiment, not a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. I use my YouTube filming equipment to take the pictures and I try to use the same lighting when possible but I can’t match everything exactly.

Retin-A 0.1

Retin-A is a brand name of tretinoin (like Q-Tips is for cotton swabs).
I refer to it as Retin-A even though I use the generic tretinoin product.

Retin-A is considered the gold standard of anti-aging topical treatments. It’s been studied for 30 years and has been proven effective on reversing the signs of photo-aging like wrinkles, age spots, sagging, and dullness by increasing collagen production deep within the skin. It thickens the deeper layers of the skin and also thins the outer protective layer (the stratum corneum). Because of this, Retin-A should be used along with sunscreen daily.

Retin-A is a strong drug that’s regulated by the FDA and approved for use as an acne medication and for sun-damage. It should be used sparingly and with caution since there are side effects like peeling, redness, dryness and irritation. Those who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should not use Retin-A.

I was able to acclimate my skin to using 0.05% Tretinoin cream by starting out slowly and taking over a year to work up to using it every night. I didn’t apply it around my eyes, by my nostrils, or around my mouth to start. I did follow it up with a serum and moisturizer and by rubbing those products onto my under-eyes and eyelids most likely transferred a small amount of tretinoin to those areas. In my 3rd year of use I increased to the 0.1% strength and have been using that every night since. Now that my skin is fully acclimated to it, I don’t have any peeling and I apply it directly to my under-eye area but I still don’t apply it onto my eyelids or below the brow bone.

I’m 55 now and I think that using Retin-A has dramatically improved my skin.

Any botox and/or filler I’ve had in the past is worn off so my face is injectable-free in the after pictures. If I had known I’d still be using the original “Before” pictures 5 years later I would have taken better pictures but these are what I have to work with. I’ve tried to match the lighting and facial expressions in the “After” pictures to the “Before” pictures.

The following pictures have not been retouched. The first group shows my “Before” pictures on the left side which were taken in January of 2013, the “After” picture on the right side was taken in January of 2018. 

Three Quarter Face BA 5 Yrs

At first glance I thought my wrinkles looked the same in these two, but I noticed my smile is bigger & upturned in the After picture while the Before is a downturned smaller smile… with a bigger smile usually comes bigger wrinkles, but the crow’s feet are actually less deep and shorter
and the skin of the eye lid looks firmer.

Three Quarter Face Close Up Before to 5 Yrs

Close-Up of eye shows firmer looking skin, wrinkles smaller (when I’ve aged 5 years)
and pores look reduced as well.

Right Side 9 Mo to 5 Years

Retin-A doesn’t keep you from smiling or making facial expressions that wrinkle the skin
but it does help the skin to release the wrinkle when the face is relaxed.

Right Side Close Up Before to 5 Years

The photo above shows the difference between the “etched in” wrinkles of the “Before” picture and the smooth more youthful looking skin in the “After” picture.

Left BA Before to 5 Years

I got a pretty good match of facial expression in this picture and it shows
an overall improvement in wrinkles, skin tone, and firmness.

Left Close Up Before to 5 Years

The close-up shows the difference in the crow’s feet when smiling the same amount.

In the next group of pictures the photos on the left is from October 2013, 9 months after I started using Retin-A and the photos on the right are from January 2018 (4 years, 3 months apart). I took better pictures with more consistent lighting and better facial expressions.

Front Face BA Pic 9 mo to 5 Yrs

The first thing I notice in this picture is how much more lifted my eyelids are,
plus the general “healthy glow” to my skin overall.

Front Face Close Up BA Pic 9 mo to 5 Yrs

The close-up shows the difference in the wrinkling below the eye and in the crow’s feet.

Three Quarter Face BA 9 Mo to 5 Yrs

Left BA 9 Mo to 5 Years

In the next group of pictures the photos on the left side are from January 2016 (after 3 Years of Retin-A use), and the photos on the right side are from January 2018 (2 years later). This group is to show whether there was significant improvement due to increasing strength from 0.05% to 0.1%. In these photos the lighting is exactly the same.

Front Face BA Pic 3 Yrs to 5 Yrs

I had the Fraxel Dual laser treatment done shortly after taking the 3-year pictures.

Three Quarter Face BA 3 Years to 5 Yrs

In the “3 Year” picture, I still have some cheek filler left.
In the “5 Year” picture the cheek filler is worn off completely.

Three Quarter Face Eye Close Up BA 3 Years to 5 Yrs

I also started using NuFace in 2017 and I think it helps improve my eyelids as well, but I can’t say for sure how much is Retin-A and how much is NuFace (review).

Right Side 3 Years to 5 Years

After using Retin-A for 3 years and not seeing much improvement in age spots (left side pic),
I had the Fraxel laser treatment.   

Right Side Close Up 3 Years to 5 Years

This age spot is darkening while using Retin-A, but there is more improvement in the crow’s feet between the 3rd and 5th year of use.

Left BA 3 Yrs to 5 Years

Overall I’m happy with my results and I will continue to use Retin-A (hopefully forever)!

I think it’s best on reducing deep expression lines like the crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles, and helping skin to regain firmness. I feel like it’s just ok on my pores and texture… I see a bit of improvement in the “After” pictures but my skin texture and enlarged pores still bother me. I don’t find it effective on fading discolorations and I still get breakouts while on it.

I hope you found the post helpful and informative!

Here are links to related posts I’ve done on my use of Retin-A:

How To Use Retin-A Without Irritation (This will answer questions on how to get started, which strength to choose, and tips to avoid irritation)

My Fraxel Dual Laser Treatment

My Evening Anti-Aging Skincare Routine (To see how I apply Retin-A now + my entire evening routine)

My Morning Anti-Aging Skincare Routine


FTC: Not Sponsored. All opinions are always 100% honest and my own.
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