I’ve been using Retin-A for 3 years now and it’s time to check in with before & after pictures to see if I’m still getting good results! I decided to start using Retin-A (tretinoin) after I turned 50, when I started seeing the visible signs of aging in the mirror every morning. I was kind of freaking out about all the sun-damage I’d done to my skin “back in the day” and figured it was time to try something new.
I’d read that Retin-A is considered the “gold standard” topical treatment for sun-damaged, photo-aged skin because it’s proven to stimulate collagen production, fade age spots, reduce wrinkles, smooth roughness, improve firmness and brighten skin overall. Retin-A/tretinoin cream is only available by prescription.
I started with generic Tretinoin 0.05% cream 3 years ago applying it only once a week to start. I worked up slowly to every night over the course of a year to avoid irritation and inflammation. I saw some promising results at my 9-Month Update and even better results at my 2-Year Update.
After the 2nd year I decided to switch to a higher strength tretinoin cream. I asked my dermatologist for a prescription for 0.1% which is twice as strong as 0.05%. While still using 0.05% Retin-A every night, I started using the higher strength cream one night a week and a year later I’m up to 5 nights a week with 0.1% and 2 nights with 0.05% without any irritation, peeling, or redness.
Even though most of the research says that using 0.05% is as effective as 0.1%, I wanted to see for myself if the stronger medication would provide improved results. In addition, I read a study from 1996 that said that pretreating sun damaged skin with 0.1% tretinoin resulted in prevention of collagen degradation. If it can protect my existing collagen from breaking down, then I’m all over it!
I love the science of skincare, but please keep in mind that I’m not a scientist so my before and after pictures aren’t taken in a clinical setting. I try to match the angle and expression from year to year because the amount I smile really affects those crow’s feet. I didn’t have studio lights for the before picture so the lighting in the first picture is more shadowy. From 9-Months on the lighting is the same. I’m not wearing any makeup in any of the photos and they are not re-touched.
In this image, I see continued improvement in the depth and length of my crows feet, and in firmness of the skin along my jawline.
Even accounting for the differences in lighting, my skin is overall smoother, tighter, and less wrinkled than it was 3 years ago!
Last year, I felt like my under eye wrinkles were losing a little ground, but bumping up to 0.1% strength seems to be reducing them again!!
Now that I’ve been using tretinoin for 3 years I can apply it above my lips without any irritation, so I’m seeing a slight improvement in my upper lip lines!
Looking at the other side of my face (the driver’s side window side) I see an overall more youthful appearance with improvements in the crow’s feet, naso-labial folds, eye-lid, and overall clarity.
I’m especially pleased with the difference in the amount of sagging on my eyelids. I don’t put the cream directly on my eyelids, but it seems to find it’s way there and give some improvement without irritation.
Click here to learn how I started with tretinoin to avoid irritation and many of the side effects that cause many people to stop using it. It’s important to start slowly with Retin-A to avoid irritation so it can be used over the long-haul because it takes 6-9 months to start seeing results.
In the next group of pictures, I took a new set of “before” pictures at the 9-month check-in so going forward, I’d have better photos with matching lighting etc.
Most people want to see results from their wrinkle creams in 4-weeks, but using Retin-A takes a shift in mind-set. It’s best to throw out all the cosmeseutical marketing claims and think of Retin-A as a long-term commitment. I’ve heard from many readers who’ve been on Retin-A for over 20 years that their skin looks at least 10 years younger than it actually is!
So the goal is to stay on it for the long haul which is a commitment of time & effort, but based on what I’m seeing in my pictures and in the mirror, it’s a commitment worth making. It also requires a commitment to using sunscreen every day because the sun caused all those age-spots in the first place. It doesn’t make any sense to work at getting rid of them while encouraging new ones to form at the same time!
Now that I’ve bumped up to the stronger cream, I’m finally seeing an improvement in discolorations, especially across the bridge of my nose.
In the past I’ve gotten Botox and Juvederm but I let them completely wear off before taking both the “2 Year” and “3 Year” photos. I did get Voluma, a filler for the cheeks 6 months before taking the “2 Year” pictures. That’s been in for 18 months now and is supposed to last for up to 2 years, so it may be worn off a bit. (Voluma 1-Year Update post)
The thing to keep in mind with all the B&A photos is that the clock keeps ticking and I’m 3 years older but my skin looks better!
**I use RapidLash to grow my eyelashes and eyebrows**