New Year, Better Skin! Let’s Do This!

I know that I did a recent post about the skincare I have been using as of late but I decided to change things up since then.

I have now decided that it is time to move towards progress instead of staying stagnate in all areas of my life-including my skin. This means that I am no longer just focusing on maintaining it the way it is now as I want to actually make it better.

In this post, I will be talking about my new plan for my skin.

Past/Current skin issues, products and plan

I have struggled with acne and oiliness ever since I was in fifth grade. This is pretty common for many people with PCOS.

The number of products I have used to control my skin problems is astounding in my opinion. Some of the things helped and others made it worse or didn’t do anything at all. They consisted of OTC and prescription treatments.

What helped me the most for my acne was definitely the Acne.og regimen. It cleared up my acne really well. I ended up stopping it though because I read something about benzoyl peroxide possibly causing premature aging.

After stopping the regimen, I went through a ton of other treatments and products. While the acne and oiliness has reduced a lot, hyperpigmentation is a huge problem. Another issue I have now (since I am in my 30s) are signs of aging.

My most recent products have only been keeping my skin from getting bad and not too much else. These include rosehip oil, retinol, vitamin C serum, aloe Vera gel (it does moisturize well), DMAE cream (it has helped my under eye area a little), Frownies and sunscreen (an essential).

Because of not getting as much improvement as I want, I have decided to start using tretinoin. It is a strong treatment but I feel that is what I needs for my skin to look better.

I have actually been on tretinoin before. The first two times, it just made my skin really oily (not sure what strength I was on). The third time, it started to even out my skin tone but for some reason I stopped using it.

This time around I am going to stay the course-unless my skin gets significantly worse or it doesn’t do anything at all for me.

A little about tretinoin

Tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A and is part of the retinoid class of compounds. It first went on the market in 1971 as an acne treatment. Years later, it was found to be helpful for other skin-related issues. These include signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, unevenness, stretch marks (possibly) and texture smoothing.

There are other types of retinoids (namely, retinol and adapalene) but tretinoin is one of the strongest. Because of this, it has to be prescribed by a doctor.

Tretinoin comes in gel, cream and lotion form. There are different strengths that a doctor can prescribe. These include .025%, .05% and .1%. The highest percentage will yield the best results in a shorter amount of time.

Since all percentages of tretinoin are strong, there are some side effects that may occur. These include the following:

  • Burning and/or itching
  • Redness
  • Peeling
  • Dryness
  • Worsening acne
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation

Because of the above side effects, it is highly recommended to start at the lowest strength and move up after a while if you think you need more dramatic results. You should also begin by only applying it once or twice a week and simplifying your routine (drop all products with actives) for a while to lesson the possible side effects.

For an extensive amount of information on using tretinoin, here is a Wiki document from the tretinoin sub-Reddit:

My routine and products

Before I embark on a tretinoin journey, I am supposed to stop products with actives for a while. Because of this, I have dropped the retinol lotion and vitamin C serum.

Here are the products I have been using and will be using:

  • Vanicream face cleanser– This is really gentle, yet provides a great cleansing.
  • Aloe Vera gel– I have been using this at night since stopping the two products with actives in them. I will continue to use it when I add tretinoin into my routine.
  • Rosehip seed oil– This is my favorite skin oil and I use it everyday. I will continue to use it. Even though it has vitamin A in it, I was told the amount is negligible enough that it won’t further irritate my skin when used alongside tretinoin.
  • Red light lamp– I have been using this daily for 15-20 minutes since I got it and will continue to do so. It is way better than the red light massage wand I was using before and I swear I can see some results!
  • Vanicream moisturizer– This is a fragrance-free, non-comedogenic lotion. It is lovely on my hands and I will start using it on my face when I add in the tretinoin.
  • BGS (Black Girl Sunscreen) sunscreen- Okay, so I went back to using this sunscreen after stopping it due to the ingredients. I had thought the CeraVe sunscreen (I will update my sunscreen post or maybe delete it) was great but I realized how white it was actually making me and the texture of it started to be uncomfortable. So I guess I will be screwing up my endocrine system using Black Girl Sunscreen? The jury is out. All I know is that my skin loves it, it has no fragrances and goes on sheer.
  • Frownies– These are amazing for the two fine lines on my forehead! They do come back towards the end of the day though.
  • DMAE cream– This is for my under-eye area. It has helped slightly reduce the lines that show up when I smile.
  • Aquaphor Lip Repair– Okay so this isn’t for my whole face obviously but it works so well that I had to include it here. I highly recommend this if you suffer from very dry lips.
  • Jade Gua Sha tool– I do this massage everyday because it feels good and gives my face a bit of a lift.
  • 0.025% Tretinoin gel- This is the lowest strength of tretinoin and I got it in gel form. When I used tretinoin before, it was in cream form. We will see if there is any difference this time around.

Here is my current routine which I will continue doing for a while:


  1. Splash face with water. Pat dry.
  2. Apply rosehip seed oil and do a Gua Sha massage.
  3. Apply sunscreen (every two hours).


  1. Cleanse with Vanicream cleanser. Pat dry.
  2. Do red light therapy on my face for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Apply a layer of aloe Vera gel. Wait for it to dry.
  4. Apply a small amount of DMAE cream to my under-eye areas.
  5. Apply rosehip seed oil. Wait for 15 minutes.
  6. Apply a Frownies patch on my forehead, over my two fine lines.

Here is what my routine will be when I start using tretinoin:


  1. Splash with water. Pat dry.
  2. Do red light therapy for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Apply aloe Vera gel. Wait for it to dry.
  4. Apply rosehip seed oil and do Gua Sha massage.
  5. Apply sunscreen (every two hours).

Evening (“sandwich method”)-

  1. Cleanse face with Vanicream cleanser. Pat dry
  2. Apply a small amount of Vanicream moisturizer right away. Wait for it to dry for 20 minutes.
  3. Apply a pea sized amount of tretinoin all over my face. Wait for it to dry for 20 minutes.
  4. Mix a dollop of moisturizer in my hand with a couple drops of rosehip seed oil. Apply to my face.

I will only be using tretinoin once a week to start with so that my skin can get acclimated to it. After a while I will keep upping the number of days per week I apply it.

I will also add Frownies, DMAE cream and possibly a vitamin C serum back in once my skin can handle them again.

In conclusion

I am excited and very nervous to start using tretinoin. I hope that it works for me instead of having to go on the list of all the other million things that have not done a thing for my skin.

My plan is to do weekly or biweekly updates of how my skin is doing just in case someone is curious about another person’s experience with tretinoin.

Have any of you been on tretinoin before? If so, did it work for you?

Thanks for reading!

Here is a great blog post showing a before and after of tretinoin use:

Here is a guide to using tretinoin for acne:

Here is a guide to using tretinoin for anti-aging:

Here is information and experiences with the skin purge that can come with tretinoin use:

Affiliate disclaimer: I am part of an affiliate program. This means that I may get a commission off of any clicks and purchases you make.

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