RETIN-A / Tretinoin For Wrinkles: Review & Before and After!


Does Tretinoin/Retin-A work as an anti-aging / anti-wrinkle cream? I’ve been using it for more than 16 years now, and I’ll tell you all about my personal experience with photos of the before and after! But first, a bit of knowledge about tretinoin: what it is, what it does, how to use it correctly, and much more. Read on!

What is Retin-A ( Tretinoin or Retinoic Acid), And How Does It Work For Anti-aging?

Tretinoin is a derivative of Vitamin A (same family as Retinol and Retinal but stronger) and is mainly used to improve photoaging by modifying cellular differentiation programs (1)

  • 1) Increase of epidermal proliferation leading to epidermal thickening
  • 2) Compaction of the stratum corneum
  • 3) Biosynthesis of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)

GAGs are important for several reasons:

  • Hydration: GAGs, particularly hyaluronic acid, have a remarkable ability to retain water, which helps keep the skin hydrated and plump, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Tissue repair: GAGs participate in tissue repair and regeneration by interacting with proteins, growth factors, and enzymes.
  • Collagen support: GAGs play a role in maintaining the structure and stability of collagen, a protein that provides strength and support to the skin. By binding to collagen, GAGs help to protect it from degradation, thus contributing to the skin’s overall health.

In English: Tretinoin makes the skin thicker, helps with the formation of new collagen (and reduces the degradation of the old one), reduces or erases wrinkles and fine lines, as well as smoothing the skin surface, giving it a glowing and youthful look. It is also one of the most effective topical treatments for acne and scars due to its ability to regenerate the epidermis’s top layer with a quicker cellular turnover rate.

(1)Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H. C., Roeder, A., & Weindl, G. (2006). Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: An overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 1(4), 327-348.

The difference between Tretinoin and Retinol:

Retinol is the weaker derivate of Vitamin A, and converting it into Retinoic Acid (Tretinoin) requires 2 steps (losing part of its power in the process). That’s why it’s widely used In cosmetics and doesn’t need a prescription.

Here is an article where I talk more in-depth about the differences between tretinoin/Retin A and Retinol (Soon available in English as I’m translating it from Italian. Subscribe to be alerted when the post is up!).

My Experience with Tretinoin / Retin A as anti-aging ( after 17+ years of usage)

This is an example of the effects of Retin-A after constant use for 11 years (when the second photo was taken). Sure, I’ve aged. It is not the absence of wrinkles that makes a face look young. But when it comes to wrinkles, I had remained the same as when I was 25. I don’t have any yet.

I have used 0.1% tretinoin cream, the highest concentration (not available in most of Europe), since age 29. So, to date, I’ve used it for 17 straight years, and I can say with certainty, supported by scientific evidence, that:

Tretinoin / retinoic acid (the active ingredient in Retin-A) is the only pharmaceutical cream with real anti-wrinkle and anti-aging properties on the market. There are dozen of studies about its efficacy and safety.

Here is an interesting Harvard study, Do retinoids really reduce wrinkles? (spoiler alert: Yes, it does 🙂 )

Excuse the light, but I took the photo tonight to show the frown lines we all naturally have.

When I say that Retin-A has erased my wrinkles, I don’t mean I have a mummified face.

I have dynamic wrinkles like anyone else if I’m surprised, laugh, or get angry, but they’re not as pronounced as they used to be. That’s thanks to tretinoin, which made my skin more elastic, similar to younger skin.

When my face is “at rest,” the wrinkles leave no permanent signs (yet), and at 46, it’s quite remarkable, given that I do not use Botox on my forehead. I tried once at age 30, and it gave me a heavy sensation in my eyelids, so I never did it again.

That’s why I swore eternal love at Tretinoin and even took it to the Namibian desert. I never skip a night, not even when I had malaria! (Yep, no kidding!)

I could go into even more scientific details about why Retin-A (retinoic acid/tretinoin) is so powerful in fighting and preventing skin aging.

However, I prefer to refer to scientific articles supported by decades of studies and by clinical trials, which have definitively proven the effectiveness and safeness of Retin-A if adequately used. Bottom line: you don’t have to trust me. Search for tretinoin academic studies on Google. There are plenty of them!

Important Premises:

I haven’t started using Retin-A for anti-aging purposes. A doctor prescribed it for me to treat a heavy episode of nodulocystic acne, which has disfigured me for more than a year (more on this in a separate article).

The side effect I wasn’t aware of was that it cured my acne and set my skin’s biological clock back years. Tretinoin erased the wrinkles I had and prevented new ones from forming. The more you use tretinoin consistently, the more remarkable the results will be.

Retin-A is a drug, not a wrinkle cream to spread on the face. You can’t use it lightly. There are contraindications and side effects that you need to be aware of. Remember that it should not be used if you are pregnant and do not plan to use sunscreen every day.

Tretinoin is also an excellent ally to prepare the skin for strong peels, such as TCA and other chemical peels. You can read related articles by clicking on the links.

Tretinoin: The Before And After Photos after Using it for 17 Years

Recently I was trying to organize my old photos, and, to my horror, I found these from when I was 30 years old (before a procedure where I injected a small quantity of hyaluronic acid into my under-eye area).

Please note that on the after photos, there is no trace of it anymore, as it’s been more than 16 years after this procedure, and the Ialuroinic acid lasted around 2 years under my eyes.

Tretinoin-Retin-A Before-and-after-photos-for-anti-aging-and-wrinkles

I had just started using tretinoin and was over the purging/flaking stage, but I still couldn’t imagine what Retin A would have done for my face more than a decade later! See for yourself in these before and after photos! I showed them to my husband recently, and he couldn’t believe his eyes.

I confess I was also a bit in shock because I only saved the most flattering photos of when I was younger and totally forgot how bad my skin was before using tretinoin!

I Can’t believe how much my skin has improved over the years thanks to Retin A! The texture at 30 was terrible, and after years of sunbathing without sunscreen, I had extensive photodamage, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin even when using foundation. For my age, terrible.

Now I can go out with my favorite sunscreen, a bit of blush, and under-eye concealer (tretinoin can’t do much for dark circles), and I’m good to go!

Here, age 42. After four years of daily use of Retin-A, the two horizontal wrinkles in the forehead disappeared around age 33, and no other significant wrinkles have formed. The complexion is now rosy and healthy. I have no makeup, botox, or filters in this photo.

The Drawbacks Of Using Tretinoin/Retin A: The “Retinization” Process

Tretinoin is indeed effective, but its potency comes with side effects:

  • Initial dryness and flaking
  • Purging (an increase in acne for a period of time)

These side effects are very common if you use tretinoin properly (more on this later), and they are now referred to as the “retinization process”, meaning the skin is getting used to tretinoin.

Here is an easy and interesting study about it: High-Strength Tretinoin for Rapid Retinization of Photoaged Facial Skin

On top of this, even if tretinoin helps the skin to thicken and get better, it compacts the stratum corneum (the upper layer of dead skin ), so you need to take extra measures to avoid sun damage.

If you are serious about using tretinoin, you can forget that beautiful natural tan on your face. Exposing yourself to the sun without sunscreen is dangerous, even if it is cloudy or inside the house near the windows.

Tretinoin, once started, becomes a “way of life”, so think carefully if you want to start it and be consistent with it. If you don’t think you can handle it, don’t start tretinoin.

There are ways to reduce the retinization process and the side effects if that’s stopping you from using tretinoin. I speak about it later in the article and in a more detailed one, I’m currently working on.

How Long does it take to see results from Tretinoin?

It depends on many factors: How consistent you are, the strength of the product, and how long the Retinization process will last. Also, it largely depends on what you mean by “seeing results”.

How long does it take for tretinoin to help with wrinkles and hyperpigmentation?

If you use tretinoin for deep wrinkles and expect them to disappear or get reduced visibly in just a few weeks or months, you are up for disappointment. Tretinoin takes time to work. Especially when the photodamage is extensive, you might use tretinoin for years before seeing concrete results.

In my case, it took around 3 years to get rid of the two horizontal lines on my forehead. Please note that this was my experience. Every skin is different, so you might see results in a shorter or longer period of time.

For Hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), it depends on your starting point. But overall, it takes at least 4/8 months (or more) to see clear changes in your skin.

How long does it take for tretinoin to help with Acne?

Gladly, a lot less than to see any anti-aging properties. I had a serious case of nodule cystic hormonal acne, and (also taking hormones for a few months) it took at least 4 months for me to clear my acne. But as I said, it was bad. To give you an idea of how bad, this is how my skin looked before the treatment (the photo is not mine because I was so horrified that I deleted all of them).


Source: Daily Mail

How Long Does it Take to see skin texture improvements from Retin-A/ Tretinoin?

Here is the good news! Tretinoin compacts your skin, making it smoother and quickly improving its texture. No more dullness, but a healthy complexion in just a few months (after the retinization process is completed).

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How much does Retin-A cost:

Prices (and Brand Names By Countries)


Tretinoin Prices may vary by country. I lived in Mexico for three years and bought 0.1% Retin A at about $ 20-30 for a 40g tube (which lasted about a year).

In the United States, Retin-A / Tretinoin costs $ 50 to $ 100 depending on the type of cream prescribed; in Canada slightly less.

If you want to buy Retin-A online, you must find a safe pharmacy, and it’s not always located in your country, so you should know the commercial names used abroad. Here is a list:

US Tretinoin commercial Names:

  • Renova
  • Avita
  • Retin-A /Retin-A Micro
  • Refissa
  • Altreno
  • Atralin
  • Tretin-X

UK Tretinoin Commercial Names:

  • Retin-A
  • Tretinoin (generic tretinoin medication, identical to Retin-A)
  • Iso Tretinoin gel (Slightly different molecule but with comparable results. I tested it at 0.1% and personally found it stronger than regular Tretinoin, not sure if it’s still available in the UK as of 2023). Not to be confused with ORAL ISOTRETINOIN or Accutane/ Roaccutane.

Canada Tretinoin Commercial Names:

  • Rejuva-A
  • Stieva-A Cream/Forte/Gel/Solution
  • Vitamin A Acid

Spain Tretinoin Commercial Names:

  • Retin-A
  • Retirides (Until recently, they sold the medicine without a prescription in Spain, try to ask people who live there or have bought Retin A in Spain in the past few months)

Italy Tretinoin Commercial Names:

  • Tretinoina Same crema/gel
  • Isotrex (Isotretinoina)
  • Airol crema

Where To Buy Tretinoin Online


Important Notice: Only evaluate online pharmacies if you are fully aware of this medicine’s risks and side effects.

Due to abuse by irresponsible consumers, it is now very difficult to find Retin-A online. I advise you to consult your family doctor/dermatologist and read carefully about how to use Retin-A correctly.

It’s easier to find Retin-A / Tretinoin in online pharmacies in Canada, America, Asia, and Spain, but check if the companies are legitimate and consider the shipping costs.

Considering the durability of the product, I think it is still worth it, but the price goes up. Check the user reviews first and read the dedicated forums.

Tretinoin is a strictly controlled cream used for medical purposes (mainly for acne) and is usually not prescribed if you ask for it as an anti-wrinkle.

When you find your favorite pharmacy, online or not, do not change it because you are sure of the seriousness of the seller.

Bonus Advice:

If you go to Mexico (or know someone who lives there), take advantage of it! Retin-A costs much less than other places, and the quality is top-notch (I’ve tested it myself). You don’t need a doctor’s prescription if you pay a surcharge (which costs $ 10 to $ 20, depending on the pharmacy). You can find it in almost all pharmacies at low prices in tourist areas.

Advice on Online Pharmacies:

Be very careful and be patient. The online pharmacy business is a jungle full of scams! To find a serious pharmacy, follow these tips:

They should require a prescription:

Sometimes, they make it for you from their certified doctor for a higher cost. These are the sites, in my opinion, where you have a better guarantee, even if you spend a bit more.

Be wary of companies who don’t ask for a prescription

A serious online pharmacy will not sell potentially harmful drugs without a prescription. That said, some sell legitimate products and are trustworthy.

How to Use Retin-A, Reducing The Side Effects & Getting Results Faster?

No redness, irritation, and other adverse effects. Photo October 2019 = 42 years old)

I remember the first time I had to apply Retin-A for acne. I was terrified by online reviews about inflammation, flaking skin, redness, heavy peeling, and worsening acne in the first few months. It took me two weeks to find the guts to apply it (and luckily, I did).

Everything I read was more or less accurate, at least in the first few months. But, and that’s a big but, you can minimize the side effects of tretinoin (detailed article coming soon) and get through the weeks your skin needs to adapt (and could look not exactly pleasant) without any issues.

Here’s how!


Patience is key. Retin-A is a marathon for the skin, not a sprint. In Italy, the concentration on the market for both cream and gel is (in 2023) 0.05%.

When I started, there were lower concentrations, but we can get around this issue if you don’t find a lower % in your country.

The one I use now after years is 0.1 % and is the strongest ever, but it is not sold in Italy or Europe. Don’t worry; when the skin is not used to tretinoin, a lower % is OK. If you have never applied Retin-A, start with the lowest concentration you can find.

I don’t advise mixing a higher strength of Retin-A with moisturizer; you won’t know how much you’re applying and can’t control the process to accustom your skin to it.



Almost everyone is wrong in thinking that the results will come sooner if you use more product. Wrong! It is also counterproductive because it creates irritation, and it is necessary to leave the skin alone for a few days, disturbing the continuity of the treatment.

I use a small amount all over my face. Retin-A, if stored well, lasts up to a year or more. The results will come, don’t worry!




These areas have the most delicate and thin skin, so you should not apply Retin-A to them initially.

Some people never apply Retin-A to the eye area. I try it sporadically, but I am hesitant because the result is not nice initially: The skin under my eyes gets very dry and wrinkly.

I first apply a light moisturizer around the eyes to avoid this side effect and then massage the Retin-A closer to my under-eye area. It will not have the same strong effects, but I can see results. Initially, however, you should avoid the eye area.

Another solution I’m currently testing is to apply either retinol or Bakuchiol. Retinol is weaker but still poses a risk of irritation, so I’m testing one eye with Retinol and one with Bakuchiol. However, remember that they are NOT in the same category (let alone compared to tretinoin). Anyway, by trying these solutions, I might avoid stressing my under-the-eye area. I will keep you posted about the results.

I’m preparing a few posts about Retinol and Bakuchiol creams I’m testing, and they should be ready soon! If you don’t want to miss them, you can click and subscribe to my newsletter!


Again, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t use it every night. Test how your skin reacts; it takes several days to see it, even after just one application. So if you don’t immediately see your skin reddened/irritated or flaky, don’t apply it again because “it doesn’t do anything to me.”

In the first month, try two times a week if your skin can handle it (minor or significant flaking is there at first anyway, which means the skin is adapting and the Retin-A is doing its job).

The following month increase the applications to 3 times a week until your skin can tolerate it every night without side effects.

I have been applying it every day for years and have had no (visible) flaking or redness because I have gradually become accustomed to it over many years.


Despite all precautions, it sometimes happens that the skin is more sensitive or dry and gets irritated with the use of Retin-A. In this case, I stop for about two days and let the skin rest while I pamper it with the Connettivina Plus to avoid infection if the skin splits at the corners of the mouth.

See it On Amazon

Connettivina is AMAZING. It is pure Hyaluronic acid and helps the skin regenerate quickly, leaving it moisturized. It’s THE only thing I use, along with COSRX 96 snail mucin essence, if I have performed heavy procedures like chemical peels or when sometimes tretinoin irritates my skin. It is sold in pharmacies or on Amazon. Click on the Image to see and buy the products.



You know what they say: You get worse before you get better. This is a valid concept when applied to Retin-A. Except in rare cases, with skin that will endure anything, yours might worsen for around two weeks to 2 months.

Dry skin, which flakes more or less markedly, preventing you from using foundation and powders without it being noticeable, and also a sudden worsening of acne. This is what you have to expect in the first few months.

Why does this happen? First, the skin is becoming accustomed to much faster cell turnover than usual, is more exposed to the elements, sun, and pollution, and tends to become irritated.

The surface layer of the skin is exfoliated daily, and for those with oily skin, there is also an acne problem. All the “dirt” covered by that layer of dead skin comes to the surface, giving you unsightly pimples and cysts.

Fortunately, tretinoin has the incredible power to speed up the healing process of pimples and blemishes. After a few weeks of “pizza face” you won’t even need to put on foundation if you don’t feel like it. The skin, when past the pimples and flaking phase, is almost perfect.

I remember my bad phase lasted four months because I already had horrible acne, then almost suddenly, the skin became so radiant that several people pointed it out to me. Never in my life had anyone made positive comments about my skin. EVER.


Essential action, often forgotten. Why use tretinoin/ Retin-A only with super-dry skin? Because moisture residue causes more of the product to be absorbed, irritating the skin and making flaking more visible. This still holds true despite the new ways of using tretinoin I read on various forums (“sandwich method”, using a moisturizer with tretinoin, and more. See chapter below).


Forget the wild tan if you use Retin-A (and your skin will thank you anyway!) You can always use great self-tanners!

Premise: I give you this advice based on my experience.

Some people apply moisturizers or serums before tretinoin, then wait about 20-30 min to completely absorb it, and then use their anti-wrinkle cream or moisturizer. This is called the “Sandwich Method.”

I carefully avoid it for a couple of reasons:

1) I have skin that tends to be oily, and although I initially feel that the Tretinoin is drying out my skin, as soon as I put it on, my skin balances it out by producing enough oil to compensate during the night. In the morning, I wash my face well with lukewarm water, removing any flaking, and treat my skin well with the creams and serums I talk about in the article about the best anti-wrinkle cream after 40 years

2) I don’t want to minimize the effect and benefits of Retin-A:  Although the skin has absorbed it all, adding other products (depending on what you use) could affect the cell regeneration work that Retin-A is doing. So to be safe, I avoid mixing products.

I only do this when I put the cream in the eye area before the Retin-A. NEVER AFTER: I did this once, and some of the product migrated into the eye area, giving me beautiful, wrinkled skin the following day. But if it happens, don’t worry. It is a transient effect.

However, if your skin is truly irritated and can’t tolerate tretinoin (not even by reducing the applications), you can certainly use these alternative methods: a lightweight moisturizer 20 minutes before and then (if TRULY necessary) apply a moisturizer/cream/serum after.

The results will be a bit slower to show, but you’ll also have less irritation. I chose the hardest road because I wanted to get over the retinization process and reap the benefits as soon as possible. And it definitely worked!


This step is the most important one. As already explained, Retin-A and the sun do not get along. I dare say they are bitter enemies. Remember that when you use Retinoic Acid, you are missing a layer of skin. (The “stratum corneum” gets thinner and compacted ).

Sun sensitivity increases exponentially, putting you at risk of burns, irritation, and more severe problems. So I highly recommend finding a sunscreen that is broad spectrum (blocks both UVA and UVB) and with a high SPF.

Any sunscreen is better than none until you find the right one for your face. ALWAYS use it even if it is cloudy or raining. The harmful rays, UVA, always come through the clouds and windows even without the sun. If you don’t feel like using sunscreen 365 days a year, then you better not use Retin-A.

You would do more damage to your skin than anything else. Using Retin A takes patience and dedication. It is a medication, not just any beauty cream (which is why, as an anti-wrinkle, Retin A is the unbeaten queen of anti-aging)

So Who Doesn’t Have Wrinkles at 40/50 Years of Age Uses Retin-A


Ok, the makeup and the proper lighting, but you can see that this woman’s skin is in excellent condition. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure that out.

When you see Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston still with fabulous skin at 50, their REAL secrets can only be listed below. In combination or individually:

  • They won the genetic lottery (it’s rare, but it happens, lucky them, I have bad skin).
  • They use Botox & Fillers (more or less extreme, in some cases not noticeable, in others terrifying).
  • They have been using Retin A, probably for decades, with admirable consistency, every night.
  • They undergo procedures like TCA peels, Lasers, Radio Frequency, Microneedling, PRP, and more.
  • Consistent use of broad-spectrum sunscreen even in cloudy conditions or in winter.
  • They had a facelift in combination with the previously mentioned points.

What About Other Anti-Wrinkle Creams & Serums? Don’t they work?

I didn’t write the article to tell you what to do or not in terms of creams or procedures. I know people who truly don’t give a damn about wrinkles and are even proud of them (okay…maybe the only believable one was my grandmother). Still, some women are not particularly concerned by them.

While others, like me, care about keeping their skin in good condition, as much as nature and genetics allow ( because sooner or later, we all get old, let’s face it :)) Why did I make this premise? Very simple.


Because all the miraculous creams, lotions and serums advertised as miracle cures for the wrinkles, they DO NOT CANCEL OR ATTENUATE THE ONES ALREADY PRESENT. FORGET IT. Only Tretinoin and good formulated retinoids can do that. That is, if the wrinkes are not too deep and the skin not irreparably damaged.

I know women who spend a fortune on expensive creams that promise to erase wrinkles and pull up the skin (seriously?!), maybe in a 15 mg chic vase, for “only” 150 euros. And then perhaps criticize those who have Botox. I find the reasoning behind this very hypocritical.

If you don’t love your wrinkles and a proven method (Retin-A and/ Botox/ lasers etc.) gives you proven results, why spend hundreds on “anti-wrinkle” creams and criticize those who use methods that work according to science? In the end, you spend MUCH less and get what you want.

Anti-aging creams and serums, the good ones, do work, and I recommend them to improve the appearance of the skin and prevent further damage/ wrinkles to appear. But they don’t erase anything, unfortunately. Better to buy a few targeted, but effective products to tackle other skin concerns.

Exaggerated combination of fillers on the cheeks (not Botox, that is not done on the cheeks! And he certainly went overboard with the latter as well, but it has nothing to do with the “hamster” effect given instead by the Hyaluronic acid injected into the cheeks.

And here we come to the end of this article. I wanted to post the Most frequently asked questions about tretinoin, how tretinoin helps clear acne, and the most common myths about retinoids, but I thought I would prepare separate articles to delve deeper into the topic. Otherwise, I risk confusing/ boring you!

Again, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter, to receive an alert when they are up!

Have you ever tried Retin-A? If yes, leave me your experience in the comments, or if you have any doubts, leave a comment below, and I’ll try to answer you as best I can!

Thank you!


Further reading:

Best mineral sunscreens I use for younger-looking skin



  1. H Clelia!!I just discovered your blog and love reading it. And you look amazing 😍, I have some expensive glycolic acids I want to finish using. Should I alternate them on nights when I’m not sung Retin-A? I can I use Retin-A at night and my glycolic in the morning?

    Also, what brand of Retin-A do you use? (I live in the US). I’m going to order some after reading this article & use it religiously from now on. And should I buy one that requires a prescription?

    And what sunscreen do you use, and which level of spf? I like La Roche Psay anthelios spf 50.

    I’m so amazed that you have no wrinkles and your skin looks amazing. You inspire me!

    1. Author

      Hey!! Thanks so much for your kind worlds, it truly means a lot to me to know I am helping people as much as I can!
      So, for your questions, let’s go in order:

      1) Should I alternate them on nights when I’m not sung Retin-A? : Try but not regularly in the beginning. You are already exfoliating your skin and adding a new exfoliating substance sometimes might create strange reactions, but it’s rare. So I’d try a couple of times first and then if it works, cool! Finish up your glycolic acids and then go back to just tretinoin .

      2)I can I use Retin-A at night and my glycolic in the morning?: Nope! I wouldn’t do it. Once per day is more than enough exfoliation, you risk compromizing your skin barrier if you over exfoliate and when that happens is not good and you need to stop everything and go back to a healthy skin barrier, which can take even months. Not worth it. One product is more than enough, even if the other seems to be mild, never use 2 exfoliating acids in the same day.

      3)What brand of Retin-A do you use? (I live in the US), and should I buy one that requires a prescription?: I traveled all around the world and I used every possible brand of pure tretinoin. From the classic Retin A, to tretinoina Same, Isotrex and many others. They are ALL the same to me of they have the same %. The only slight difference I found was that the gel consistency I got once from Retin A was better for my type of skin as it’s mixed/oily, but the cream work just the same. So don’t worry about the brand as long as you purchase it in a reputable Pharmacy and yes, always with prescription. The only exception i made was in Mexico where they sold it to me without prescription and it was a good product but they let you pay a lot more without prescription. I just bought my Italian brand as I was running out and I paid around 18 euros. And lasts for almost one year for me, if I only ise it for the face. Now I’m using it for the arms as I had some spots I wanted to remove quickly and on my knees, to keep the skin more compact. In that case it lasts me 6 months maybe? I put very little.

      4) What sunscreen do you use, and which level of spf?
      : Interesting question as I have literally A MASSIVE BOX filled with sunscreens of all kinds 🙂 I need to take a photo of it ahah. Right now I’m testing korean sunscrens and Oh my God, I’m in love. They are super light weight, it seems I am putting a moisturizer, they don’t dry the under skin area like others do, and most importantly they don’t sting my eyes. I also have among others, La roche posay spf 50 and it is a good product but compared to the korean is a bit more sticky and incredibly it also stings my eyes after a while. Given that you need to apply 4 full fingers of product.. I am going to finish it probablu ising it for my hands, neck and decolte’ avoiding the eye area.
      For the SPF is not THAT important as long as you use at least SPF 30 and reapply (many people forget this step or don’t want to be bothered but it’s important!) and , also important, it has to be broad spectrum as the SPF is only measuring the protection against sunburnt , so mainly UVB rays, which are also dangerous but not as the UVA. For the UVA in Korea they have the symbol + to inform about the protection against UVA. I only buy the ones with the max protection, so four pluses. You should see it in the front as ++++

      Right now my favorite brands are Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun, SKIN1004 – Madagascar Centella Hyalu-Cica Water-Fit Sun Serum SPF50+ PA++++ and many others (I have in my to do list a new one with the sunscreens I am testing, mostly koreans). You can also find them on Amazon if you need them immediately, but please be careful and read the reviews because some people say they are not authentic. I always buy either from Stylevana (they have better prices, discounts for buying it in bulk, and more). It takeds more to arrive but the shelf life is 2025 for the ones I have so I’m definitely good and I can wait more. Rarely I buy on amazon for emergencies, with my fingers crossed. I use Amazon a lot for other things, but for my sunscreen I’m more careful 🙂

      Touching wood I still don’t have wrinkles at almost 47 (ugh) and people think I do botox on my forehead but I do not, just tretinoin, Peelings and Sunscreen 🙂 My skin is better now than when I was 30, that’s for sure. I can’t imagine how much better it would be if I started earlier than 29 and I never sunbathe without sunscreen or smoked for years, ah well!

      I hope it helps!
      If you have any other question, let me know and I’ll try to help. I’m going to live in Mexico for a few months now so I’m filling the suitcase with ALL my sunscreens. They are going to finish very quickly 😀 (and when it’s super sunny I don’t care what people think and I go out with a sun umbrella too, but that’s me! plus it helps with the heat too, so win win)


  2. Hi Clelia,
    Have you tried Tazarotene? third generation of retinoids which seems to be giving very good results. What are your views? Thanks

    1. Author

      Sorry for the late response Noemi, busy days! I replied to your question on the other comment! 🙂

  3. I have just received 0.25 and started using it as the instructions say which is every night to my face , I will reduce this if I start to feel dry or stinging . I wanted to ask I also have sun damage on my neck and décolletage area I know you said don’t use it on your neck but would it be ok on the décolletage area ?
    Thanks Louise

    1. Author

      Hi Louise, even with a 0,025, every night is a bit too much (in my opinion). But see how it works for you. Consider that in the beginning, you will experience some irritation and flaking, it’s normal, but it should go away within a month or so. So if it were me, I would start 2/3 times per week and build up from there slowly. It will still work.

      As for your question, everyone is different, so for example, I can not put tretinoin on my neck (and I am experimenting with using retinol at high concentration and Bakuchiol (which is a “natural alternative” to retinol, even if they are two completely different molecules).
      But I know of women who have no issue applying on the neck. I would try once per week first and see if you feel stinging, highly inflamed, and irritated skin, I would find an alternative or use a moisturizer before and after applying tretinoin.

      The décolletage area, in my experience, is so variable! For example, mine is not sensitive at all. I even put TCA peels on it, and I have no issues, but I know of people whose area is super sensitive, so here again, I would go slow and see how your skin reacts.
      My mantra is that the skin tells you when it’s too much. Listen to it.

      I understand it’s tricky for tretinoin because, in the first few months, you will experience dryness, etc. But it’s transitory. I would use it slowly for 2 months and then decide whether you tolerate it on your neck and chest or not.
      I hope it helps, and if you want, let me know what you think and how it is going!

  4. Hi,
    I’m from Italy and here I can find TRETINOINA SAME 0.05% CREMA.
    Is this as effective as Retin-A in reducing wrinkles and photodamage?

    Thanks in advance for any answer.

    1. Author

      Ciao Ste! I’m Italian too, I’m replying in English so other people can understand.
      Yes in Italy there is only the tretinoin same 0,05% which is ABSOLUTELY ok, it’s exactly the same as Retin-A (a commercial name for tretinoin), and the molecule and the efficacy as anti-wrinkles/ anti-aging and photodamage is the same 🙂

      1. Hi Clelia,
        Have you tried Tazarotene? third generation of retinoids which seems to be giving very good results. What are your views? Thanks

        1. Author

          Hi Noemi,I’ve heard about Tazarotene, and seems promising but I tend to be old school and for now I stick to Tretinoin, as there are tons of studies spanning decades about its safety. Not saying that Tazarotene is not safe, but I didn’t read as many great study as for Tretinoin. For me safety is crucial and since I know for sure that it works, even if Tazarotene might give better results (not proved yet), I stick with the old but good 🙂

  5. Hi,
    I’m from Italy and here I can find TRETINOINA SAME 0.05% CREMA.
    Is this as effective as Retin-A in reducing wrinkles and photodamage?

    Thanks in advance for any answer.

  6. I’ve love d reading your article, very informative. I wanted to add something to a lady’s question about applying Retin-a to her thighs. As a medic I advise caution as you can overdose on vitamin A.

    1. Author

      Hi Sam

      Thank you for your comment. I can’t remember which lady asked about the leg specifically but I also wouldn’t advise unless is like ONE spot or a very limited surface, plus I never read anything about using it on other parts of the body, to be honest. So I’d definitely trust your advice on this.

    2. Hi,

      I have been using Tretinoin for about 5 years. I have quite dry skin and lots of wrinkles. I cannot see any improvement and keep getting more wrinkles each year, particularly on my cheeks and lower face. Please could you offer me any advice.

      Thank you


      1. Author

        Hi Katy

        Thanks for your message! To be able to understand why is not working for you, can you give me more details? (What concentration do you use? do you have any flaking? Or have you had flaking when you first started? Do you buy the product from a reputable source? Do you suffer from other skin conditions like rosacea? What are your skin type and your skin routine? Do you use sunscreen every day and reapply?) All these factors can contribute. I hope it helps!

        1. Hi Clelia,

          I use Tretinoin 0.05. I buy it from America from a lady whose husband is a Pharmacist. I had a lot of flaking and red skin to begin with. I get a bit of Rosacea around my nose and have a lot of lines/wrinkles. My skin is quite dry. I have a cousin in Brazil and have asked if he can buy it there, he says they have Vitanol A. Is this the same as RETIN A?

          1. Author

            Hi Katy, the Vitanol A ingredients are tretinoin combined with some moisturizing ingredients (glycerol), silicones, parabens and cetyl alcohol, so not exactly a great formula on paper. By looking at the INCI, technically is not the same as Retin A, maybe a weaker version of it, as when you combine pure retinoic acid with other ingredients, it loses some of its potency. If you can’t get the pure version it might be worth a try, but I honestly don’t know if it’s truly efficient as anti-age as Tretinoin is. Do you know if you need a prescription for that? If not, it’s definitely a weak formula, not comparable to Retin A.
            Hope it helps 🙂

            1. Thanks.

              Do you have any tips how I can get the tretinoin to start working on my wrinkles, I went through the peeling and red face but it feels like it was for nothing as my lines are worse than ever 😣x

              1. Author

                May I ask how old are you and for how long have you been using tretinoin and what percentage? All these factors are of paramount importance to understand why you feel the product is not working for you. If it has been less than one year or two, you will not see real improvements in the wrinkle department )depending on how deep they are and your age and tretinoin strength. To give you an example, it took me 3 full years at the max strength to erase 2 medium deep forehead wrinkles at age 29. Tretinoin’s constant use throughout the years is the key to obtaining results, in addition to using sunscreen. If you were expecting immediate results then that might be the reason. I’m sorry I can not give you a straight answer but the data I have are not sufficient to have an idea… please feel free to reach out again with more info and I’ll do my best to help you out!

                1. Hi,

                  I am 52 and have been using Tretinoin 0.05 for about 4/5 years. I wear sun factor every day. I started with wrinkles in my late 20’s. Do you think I would benefit from moving up to 0.1 strength?

                  1. Author

                    Hi Katy, in my experience, from 0,05% and 0.1%, there is not much difference in results. I find it odd that you haven’t seen any improvement in your skin after 4/5 years. Honestly, this is the first time I have heard something like this. I’m in a massive group of tretinoin users on Facebook, and people complaining about the lack of results were those that just started using the product. Did you go to a dermatologist to check your skin? Maybe yours is much ticker, and indeed you would need a higher percentage, or maybe it’s something else entirely. I’m sorry I can’t help you much. My only advice is to consult a professional and get your skin checked to understand where the problem might be.

                    Have a lovely day!

    1. Author

      Hi Joshua
      You can write whatever question you have here so that with my answer I might be able to help you and other people who might have similar doubts 🙂
      Have a lovely evening!


    2. Nice reading all about this product. I just started it tonight. I am 70 years old. Can’t wait to see any results in a few months.

      1. Author

        Hi Linda, I’m so glad you are starting your journey with Retin A, as I said in the article, it takes patience but the results will definitely come! Let me know how it goes if you want.

  7. Great article, thank you so much for the info! I took notes and I’m going to try starting from the lowest concentration in September, I’m 31 so I hope I’m still in time! I just subscribed, love your blog!!

    1. Author

      Hi Sarah, I’m so glad you found this article useful, stay tuned because I’m about to translate the TCA peel review with my photos of the peeling stage too 😀 Let me know how it goes in September!

  8. Hi you look fantastic ❤️
    A question , do you think it helps firm jaw line at all if used along jaw line also ? Do you think it prevents sagging skin ?
    Thank you 😊

    1. Author

      Hi Karen

      Thanks a lot for your kind words! As for your question, tretinoin helps in regenerating the kin mainly. The build-up of collagen is not too much to truly help the kin relaxation that comes with age. What I have found more beneficial is the use of TCA peeling (I’m finishing up an article about it), but being a very strong acid people need to be extra careful. That can indeed help in preventing sagging kin to a certain degree because it reaches the dermis where the collagen is built. Hope it helps!
      Cheers 🙂

  9. Hi Clelia,
    Do you use tret around your eyes and if yes how? I tried it and my skin got so wrinkly and dry. Should I continue using it?

    1. Author

      Hi Sonja, at the moment I am using tretinoin a bit under my eyes but in a very subtle way. It’s completely normal to have your skin wrinkly and dry, that area is very delicate. You can try what I’m doing at the moment (with no side effects of dry skin so far).

      I cleanse my face in a delicate way to remove oils and makeup (I use virgin coconut oil, remove it with a cloth and use a light detergent to get out all the oil), I let it dry for a few minutes and then gently I start applying Retin A on my forehead, cheeks and chin avoiding the under the area for now. Then I use whatever is left from my cheeks and go a bit higher around my eyes. (not too close because I don’t want any to migrate inside the eye.

      I wait around 30 minutes and then I finally add my serums and moisturizer. By doing this I can definitely use it around my eyes with zero dryness. You can try and let me know. Remember to use the serums/moisturizers only after you put tretinoin and wait for a while before you do so. I found this to be the most effective way for the tretinoin to be absorbed well and avoid the wrinkly look 🙂

  10. Hello, I have a question. Didn’t it sting when you put 0.1 Tretinoin on your neck? In my case, it’s okay to apply 0.1 to my face, but it irritates my neck red.

    1. Author

      Hey, I never used Retin A on my neck (until recently and I’m using the 0,05%) I use it and around 15 minutes later I add a serum and a moisturizer by Timeless skin. This way I haven’t had any issues. The skin neck is quite sensitive so I wouldn’t recommend using such a high strength there, or if you do, you might want to reduce the applications to a couple of times per week and add some good quality serums later on.

  11. I’ve been using dermalmd anti-aging serum for over two months now and I’ve noticed significantly fewer wrinkles under my eyes and my forehead. Easy to apply, my wife loves the scent and makes my face feel smoother and look noticeably more rejuvenated.

    1. Author

      Hi Oscar, I’ve heard about that product but not in a good way actually. Not sure whether you are using it or your wife? And after only 2 months of using anything, if you see your wrinkles reduced, unfortunately, is just an optical illusion. No cream (except for Retin-A which is a medication) can erase your wrinkles, and even a high strength Retin-A will take some years of regular use, let alone a cream or serum that claims is all natural. It’s impossible. I’ve tried good serums, for sure, but they never erased anything, except for some money on my wallet 🙂

  12. Great post, Clelia. Just want to add my 2 cents. After having used some anti-aging creams for years I decided to move on and I got Tretinoin Cream 0.02%. Just for anti-aging. I have dry, sensitive Rosacean skin and I can’t tolerate many actives so I knew there was a possibility my skin would not like Retin-A. However, knowing it’s the best anti-aging treatment out there, I just wanted to try and see. I Googled ‘Ret247get’ and got it. I really love my Tretinoin Cream. It works and it’s cheap. I’d say don’t waste $$ on overhyped and ineffective “anti-aging” creams. Try Tretinoin but be very careful. Vitamin A acid is very powerful and you really have to build up very slowly. Be patient. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Tretinoin doesn’t work overnight and it isn’t a miracle worker. It takes at least 1-2 months to notice real benefits. Last but not least: it’s not for everyone. Some people just cannot tolerate it so they would have to use other anti-aging treatments/actives like vitamin C. And/or another form of Vitamin A like Retinol or Retinaldehyde. Maybe less potent, but still effective.

    1. Author

      Thanks Cyntia, great recap! All that you say is true and I also definitely state it in the article, Going slow is totally the way. I’m glad you didn’t have any issue with the use of tretinoin 🙂

  13. Hello, they are still selling it in Spain at all the percentages. I working my way up to the 0.1% by using the step up method and always using a moisturiser about an hour after I’ve applied it. The site is and instead of the usual 20 or 15 grams you get a 30 gram tube. It’s the real deal. Patience and consistency is the key. 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Molly

      UPDATE: I ordered and NEVER received anything from them. I don’t recommendd this website at all.

      Thanks for the info! Since I feel responsible for people reading this article, I wanted to make sure that they deliver and the product is legit. So I just order one tube, I registered with a new account on the website and now an email confirming my order.
      Did you get your order from them already?
      Let’s see what happens and if they are reliable. When I was in the UK years ago I was able to buy online from trusted websites but so far all of them have closed so I am trying to figure out if the product they sell is ok. If you’re using it, what is your impression? Are you peeling or feeling anything different?

      Thanks again for telling me about this website. I know in Mexico they still sell it but it’s not regular without a prescription. At any rate, for whoever is reading this, no matter where you buy it, please make sure to use it correctly and apply a lot of sunscreen! 🙂

  14. This is a wonderful article! I started retin a at 15 years old for acne (0.25%) and quickly went to 0.1% in my 20s. So I am 33 now and have been on it since 15. I will check out that pure HA cream no one talks about!

    Wonderful article! Will bookmark your blog. Only regret is not using SPF until I was 27 🙁 imagine all the effects retin a would’ve had!

    Some other things that help are sonic device that pushes products and serums deeper into skin, electromagnetic device like nuface, and galvanic currents which push oxygen deep into the skin. I try to use these things regularly and daily.

    1. Author

      Wow Ray! I so envy you for starting that young! You have no idea what benefits you will rip off when you are my age! Not that you need to think about being over 40 now but heck, you won’t look a bit over 40 I can assure you 🙂
      The SPF … we are ALL guilty of that! I started at 29… before that, I went wild with solariums and roasting myself in the sun with tanning oils. My only excuse is that I’m from an island. I can’t imagine how much younger and elastic my skin would be all over my body if I had used sunscreen. But anyway, we did well after that!
      Thanks for mentioning your devices, quite interesting. I have a sonic one but still testing it. I still am old fashion for a good gentle hand massage while putting my serums. Still, let me know if you notice any interesting difference and i’ll take a look at them for sure. You definitely are taking care of your skin, well done girl!

  15. You’re looking great and doing amazing work! Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts.! 👍 I was suffering from acne due to my sensitive skin and severe summer heat. I tried my teenage time acne cream in my late twenties but i felt it was too mild to work on my much matured skin like now. Then one of my friend, was a satisfied user of Retin A, suggested me to use Retin A 0.05% ❤️. First 2 weeks my acne breakout little more than the usual. but after that, acne seemed to be decreased. Now I am cured and my skin is glowing. And I am quite satisfied with this 😊.

    1. Author

      Hi Stacy, I’m so glad tretinoin helped with your issues! I need to write a few separate articles dedicated to acne and the FAQs for Retin A /Tretinoin use because I want to make sure it’s used properly! Cheers, and keep using tretinoin!

  16. hi thx a lot for sharing. really helpful. im 32 years ols and have acne scars. my derm prescriped me Stevia ( tretinoid) 0.025 pourcent. im gonna start next week. i wasnt thinking mixing ir with my moisturizer to making it less irritating. but gonna see if i need it or not. ur super beautiful!!

    1. Author

      Hi Sofia, thanks so much, you’re lovely! As for mixing it with the moisturizer, you can certainly do it but keep in mind that the results will be less visible because the concentration will be diluted and the medication less effective. Good luck!

      1. ah ok. gonna keep this in mind. thx. keep up ur good work!

  17. Hi, Clelia. Thanks for all the information in this post. I would like to know how long it takes to wear some makeup?, Currently, I am in my 6th month with Retin A, 4-5 times per week, and my skin looks peeled off with foundation..

    1. Author

      Hi Katherina
      After 6 months you still have flaking skin? Do you gently wash your face and lightly rub it to remove the dead skin? That might help! But as usual, be super gentle! And you need to use a lot of moisturizer and drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Let me know how it goes!

  18. Thank you. You look awesom!!!! I’am 35 years old and I live in Germany, I can only get retirides from Spain. Shall I start with 0.25% and for how long before I can get the 0,5% ? I hope, it’s not too late for me. I have already some wrinkles around the mouth and under the eyes. Thank you for your help and I hope I can look like you when I reach my 42 years!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Karima, thanks so much for your kind words 🙂
      If you can only get the Retirides then so be it, no worries about the concentration right now. Slower is better so your skin gets used to it, you will know when it’s ready to bump to the 0.5%! When you don’t notice evident peeling or redness etc then it means that your skin is ready. But don’t rush it, as I always say, using Retin-A is more of a marathon and your skin will benefit a lot more from starting gradually! You will thank yourself for using it the right way when you’re older 🙂
      I know you probably already are aware of it but never forget the sunscreen, that way you’ll rip all the real benefit of using Retin-a. Good luck and keep me posted!
      Hugs, Clelia

  19. Wow.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I got a mild skin laxity in my thighs because a depression got me to lose weight while I was already very slim and fit. I’m 35 and this had never happened to me before. It’s been quite unpleasant.
    Doing a little research on my own, I’m guessing retinoic acid is the only one thing that might give me back a bit of elasticity, hopefully in the dermis.
    I’m still not sure if it does increase collagen in the dermis or just improves the dermis. Do you know?
    Also, have you ever tried radiofrequency devices or the like? Do you think they could work? I’m hesitant about them and fear I could get worse.
    Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Hi Sole, thanks for your message and actually I have a bit of laxity on my tights too and I get it is unpleasant. The thing is, tretinoin can surely help the skin produce more collagen and elastin but you shouldn’t use it on big areas in the body. Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be applied in places other than face, neck and cleavage or I would have definitely tried it out! I’ve head of different treatments like radiofrequency etc but never really tried. It depends on the situation really, sometimes working out and growing a little muscle in the affected area can tense the skin again (after all you’re replacing fat with muscle).
      Other things I do to improve my skin in the tights is:
      -Dry brushing to improve circulation
      -Cold patches
      -firming creams
      -Electrostimulation (Tesmed)
      I actually am planning to make a post and a video on what I use for my body.
      Sorry, I couldn’t help more than that but I wouldn’t recommend Retin-A for the body because it can get to the bloodstream more easily and cause issues.
      But seriously, there are other ways to treat the skin laxity (as mentioned) and if done constantly they work quite well.
      Let me know how it goes, and don’t give up! 🙂

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