Skincare

Skincare talk – acne, retinoids, and lizard skin

Last fall, I finally went to a dermatologist for the first time. I’ve had acne since I was 10, and I was at my breaking point. She prescribed me Clindamycin, a topical antibiotic, and Epiduo Gel, a benzoyl peroxide/adapalene (a retinoid) combo. I left her office hopeful that maybe, for the first time since before puberty, I might have smooth, clear skin. Sadly, after about five days, the Clindamycin broke me out in tiny whiteheads all over my entire face. I used the Epiduo a few times, but since she told me to only use the Epiduo once a week, I saw no results, and I stopped. I did continue to use CeraVe in the tub, which she advised me to use to combat my dry skin.

Unfortunately, my skin has not only not improved, but it’s slowly been getting worse. I regularly have about a dozen closed comedones around my jawline at any time, as well as acne on both cheeks. The dermatologist I saw in fall had no availability when I wanted to make another appointment recently, so I found someone else thinking that maybe a second opinion was a good thing. The first thing the new doctor told me was to stop using CeraVe in the tub on my face. According to him, it’s too thick and can exacerbate clogged pores in people who are already acne prone. Instead, he told me to use CeraVe PM, which is actually made for the face. When I told him that Epiduo didn’t do anything for me, he told me that I should still use something with benzoyl peroxide daily because it’s one of the best things for acne. So, I picked up Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask on his recommendation. I was skeptical the first time I tried it because it has a pretty strong, but pleasant fragrance, but so far, so good.

He also prescribed me Tretinoin, a retinoid. I’m definitely not a skincare expert, but from what I’ve gathered, retinoids help your skin shed its cells with more regularity so you don’t get clogged pores or hair follicles. Retinoids can also help with wrinkles and other signs of aging. While they’re great for treating acne in general, they also come with their fair share of side effects, which I’ve been experience first hand these past two weeks! The first four to five days, I saw no side effects, good or bad, and then the dry skin started. It’s been especially bad around my mouth. At the end of the day, I’ll literally have bits of skin hanging off my face, it’s delightful, let me tell you! Many people also experience a purging phase, where all the acne that has been waiting under the skin comes to the surface all at once. I’ve been reading quite a bit on retinoids, especially Tretinoin, and most people seem to see results after 6-12 weeks, which is on par with what the dermatologist told me. So far, I’ve been trying to take pictures every week to see if I can see any improvements, and I’ll be sure to do an update post from time to time.

Other than the new cleanser and prescription, I still use a few of my old standbys. I’m back to using Trader Joe’s Jojoba Oil to remove my makeup. I was using the Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, but I found it really wasn’t any better than the jojoba oil while being about quadruple the price. After the CeraVe PM, I’ve been using Vaseline to desperately try to combat the lizard skin. In the morning, I use CeraVe SPF 30 Sunscreen, and then continue with my makeup as usual. Another lovely side effect of the Tretinoin is that every product stings when I put it on now, especially around my eyes. I haven’t noticed any redness, and the stinging goes away after about 30 seconds, so I’m not too worried.

I’d love to know if any of you have used retinoids and what your experiences were!

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  • Reply rebeccatompkins1 May 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I literally swear by CeraVe, I try to get everyone to use it. It’s seriously the best. Love this post.

  • Reply georginam May 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Hello! I had serious problems using retinol because the stuff the doctor/dermatologists generally prescribe are very high concentration. I use one that is 0.3% (as opposed to 1%) and it has made a HUGE difference in my skin. Try to find an over-the-counter product like Olay or La Roche Posay with retinol as these are not as strong and give your skin time to adjust.

    Do you have red flaky bits of skin around your nose? I used to hate that!!! xx

    • Reply Caila May 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I’ve been getting flaking everywhere! The first week I did have flaking around my nose, but it’s mostly gone now, and now my nose is super oily, and strangely enough my pores look a lot better than before! I’m still getting tons of flaking around my mouth, chin, and between my eyebrows. The tretinoin I’m on is only 0.025%, so it’s one of the weaker concentrations that I’ve seen. I seriously can’t imagine what the stinging and flaking would be like if I was using the 0.1%!

      • Reply georginam May 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm

        Ohh I think you will love it soon then. My pores get smaller using it too, but I have oily skin and that seems to never go away!!! I hope it continues to work well for you, personally now that I have a concentration that works I’m a diem believer in it!!!

        • Reply Caila May 27, 2015 at 5:01 pm

          Yay, I love hearing success stories! It gives me hope 😀

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