Tretinoin 12-week update

If you’re not interested in reading detailed accounts of skincare routines or seeing really unflattering pictures of me and my acne, this post probably isn’t for you!

I’ve now been using Tretinoin .025% for about 12 weeks. I tried to take progress pictures with some regularity, but it ended up being kind of sporadic/whenever I remembered/whenever I could recreate the lighting of the first picture (majorly failed on that point). I also didn’t take down notes or anything, but I made plenty of mental notes along the way.


First four weeks: This is probably when I saw the most “action”. My skin was very dry, and flaking a lot around my nose, mouth, and chin. From all the accounts I read elsewhere online, this was completely normal and to be expected. Sometime during the first few weeks, the top and sides of my nose became extremely oily. It still remains this way today. I’m not sure if this is because of the Tretinoin or simply because it’s summer, and this summer in New York has been hot and humid as hell. My skin typically gets oily throughout the day in summer, but I can’t remember it being this bad before, so it’s probably mostly the Tret. As far as acne and the overall appearance of my skin I did start to see improvement during this time. The pores on my nose started to clear out within the first week or two, and I started to see a decrease in new clogged pores and closed comedones. In general, the skin on my cheeks started to look tighter and less bumpy.

Four to eight weeks: I saw the most improvement during this time period. The closed comedones along my jaw line started to heal and go away, and for a few weeks I had absolutely no new ones showing up! The breakouts on my cheeks basically stopped as well. Other than being very oily, my skin was pretty stable. During this time, I switched from using a combination of CeraVe PM + CeraVe Sunscreen in the morning, to only using CeraVe AM, which was the original recommendation from the dermatologist. I’m pretty sure this had a negative effect on my skin in the following weeks.

Eight weeks to today: Nothing catastrophic has happened within the past few weeks, but I haven’t seen much improvement either. I’ve had a couple of cystic breakouts along my jaw line, and a couple small breakouts on my cheeks and near my temples, which has been pretty disheartening. Strangely, I feel like the pores on my nose look worse. I keep telling myself that it’s because it’s been so freaking hot the past month, that my skin has gotten overly oily, leading to clogged pores. I hope I’m right and that I see improvement again soon. Also, the skin around my eyes has been inexplicably dry the past few days. It’s actually been flaking off around my inner eyelid area, and in the area right underneath my lower lash line where I have a wrinkle/eye bag thing. I have no idea what that’s about, but I’ve been trying to clear it up with extra CeraVe PM and Vaseline. The lack of improvement during this time period may have something to do with me being sick for over a week in the beginning of July and AGAIN the last week of July (I’m STILL battling it). My nose definitely looks a lot more red and veiny, I’m guessing because I’ve been blowing my nose literally 20 times a day for two weeks now. Ugh. Being sick in summer is the actual worst thing ever.

Overall: The two biggest things I’ve noticed are the very noticeable decrease in closed comedones along my jaw line and the speed with which any new breakouts heal. Before Tretinoin, my breakouts would usually cause me trouble for a week-10 days before they would reach the scabby/healing phase. Now it’s down to maybe four days. Everything seems to heal so much faster, I love it. I’m curious if anyone else has had sort of a “plateau” phase at around 9-12 weeks. A lot of people see the most improvement at 12 weeks, but I would say mine was at 6 weeks. I’m definitely going to stick with it for the foreseeable future, and hopefully I’ll see improvement when I’m not sick and when the weather isn’t so hellish!

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  • Reply adamchats August 15, 2015 at 4:31 am

    I just finished my first week on Tretinoin ,05%. Other than a little flaking I haven’t noticed a huge difference in my skin. But like you said you typically don’t see results until the 12 week mark.
    I haven’t noticed that my skin more oily than before. For me, I am probably more dry. Every person’s skin is different though. Good luck to you!

    • Reply adamchats August 15, 2015 at 4:32 am

      Is more oily*

    • Reply Caila August 17, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      I think how soon you see results depends on the condition of your skin when you start out and the strength of your prescription. I hope you don’t go through the dreaded purge phase! Good luck! 🙂

      • Reply adamchats August 18, 2015 at 4:00 am

        I have purged a little, not as much as what I have seen other people go through. Mainly I am just dealing with shedding skin. So nothing terrible!

  • Reply Tretinoin update – Everything Caila February 3, 2016 at 11:32 am

    […] the last time that happened. Let’s rewind to the last time I shared my progress pictures, August 14th, 2015. Looking at the pictures is pretty depressing because my skin is worse now than it was in the […]

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