5 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RETINOL

Got a few DM on my Instagram about Retinol, so I guess I’ll answer them here while also giving you update on my skin condition.

Disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist, so these are totally based on my own personal experience. 

WHEN I STARTED IN AUGUST 2020, AND CLEARED UP IN OCTOBER 2020

Q: If I successfully cleared up acne after using Retinol, shall I continue using it or stop?
A: Based on my own experience, I tried to reduce the usage to once every night. So on non-Retinol night, I’ll use other actives serums like AHA or BHA (depends on my skin’s condition).

MY SKIN CONDITION (FEBRUARY 2021)

Q: Will the acne be back even after you manage to clear them out using Retinol?
A: As long as I’m alive, I guess I’d still have acne hanging around. My mom used to tell me that after I passed my teenage years, my acne would clear up by themselves. Well, they didn’t. Hormonal acne on chin area are the worst for me, so they’d pop out uninvited, no matter how clean I cleansed or how diligent I am with my routine.

Q: What’s the correct order to apply Retinol on one’s skincare routine?
A: First thing first, use it at your night time skincare routine. Mine would be: double cleanse, hydrating toner, Niacinamide serum (just because it works well with Retinol), moisturiser then Retinol. If you’ve been following me, you’d probably know that I use two types of Retinol, Adapalene as base and Retinoic Acid as spot treatment. Please don’t apply them on their own, at least you can do is to mix with your moisturiser after cleansing. 

Q: How about the skincare routine for morning, after using Retinol?
A: Best that you can do is to treat your skin gently in the morning. Cleanse with gentle cleanser, use hydrating toner, moisturiser and never forget your sunscreen (even if you are not out and about like me). 

Q: What type of Retinol are you using now?
A: Evalen Adapalene Cream 0.1% and Vitacid 0.05% Retinoic Acid Cream. Adapalene went first for the whole face, then Retinoic Acid as spot treatment (on acne and acne marks). Both are local products, so they’re affordable. 

PHOTOS: SHINTA ROSVITA

NIGHTTIME SKINCARE ROUTINE

Thought I’d be sharing you guys my current PM routine during these never ending #stayathome nights. 


Disclaimer: this isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine. Remember, you know your own skin best! 

First Cleanser: SULWHASOO GENTLE CLEANSING OIL
Even though I didn’t wear makeup anymore since the pandemic began, but I still apply sunscreen in the morning. And I do feel it’s necessary to clean sunscreen with cleansing oil, even though I haven’t found cleansing oil or balm that are safe for fungal acne. But the trick is to rinse the first cleanser well with warm water then quickly continue to the next cleanser. 

Second Cleanser: VANICREAM GENTLE FACIAL CLEANSER
My new HG cleanser, for sure. I prefer gentle cleanser with the main and basic purpose, to cleanse. Yes, leave the actives on other products such as serum or ampoule. Gentle cleanser won’t strip our natural oil and disrupt skin’s microbiome that can cause irritation. Just use gentle cleanser like this if you are active with actives (you know what I meant right?). 

Toner: ABILL FIRST STARTING TONER
Again, a simple toner with very minimal ingredients list. I use the exfoliating toner for morning skincare routine, but never on nighttime. Because I will use prescription strength treatment, I try to keep the basic steps basic. I use cotton pad and never leave it dry until next step.

Moisturizers: VICHY MINERAL 89 SKIN FORTIFYING DAILY BOOSTER & KRAVE BEAUTY OAT SO SIMPLE WATER CREAM
With skin half damp because of the toner, I apply Vichy first then Krave. Great layers of hydration and emollient to make my skin ready for the next powerful stuffs. 

Treatment: EVALEN KRIM ADAPALENE 0,1% &VITACID 0,05% RETINOIC ACID CREAM 
I can imagine if I don’t layer my moisturizers, I will end up ruining my skin since I use these two prescription strength treatment. Both are local brands, and it worked like a charm if you know how. I’m glad I took these while staying at home most of the time during the pandemic. And I guess seeing the result on my skin (bye clogged pores), I’ll use these continuously just to maintain.

PHOTO: SHINTA ROSVITA

MY ADAPALENE JOURNEY (MONTH 1 OUT OF 3)

Time to update on my Adapalene journey.

It’s almost a month (if you want to see my weekly update, please go to my IG stories highlight) and to think of it, I’m not even halfway there yet (sigh).

So, I can definitely tell you that Adapalene really helped my problem with oil plugs a lot. I had severe bumps on my left cheek and chin only, so I only apply the cream there instead of the whole face. First, it really help to push the existing oil plugs out, either they became blackheads or pustules. Then, it helps to stop the new oil plugs from forming. Of course when there are no more new oil plugs, my skin felt smoother. If I rubbed it now, I can feel lesser bumps.

On week 2, I decided to add Retinoic Acid as spot treatment. Under the name Vitacid (another local brand), it’s another prescription-strength topical skin treatment. From my point of view, it speeds up the progress (gunks up to surface, I mean). But I warn you, this is really potent, so please consult with your derm if you want to try.

I can’t wait until month 3! Anyway, here are my current skin condition.

LEFT CHEEK IS GETTING BETTER WITH LESS PURGING & IRRITATION
NO MORE SMALL BUMPS REAPPEARED, BUT THE EXISTING ONES TURNED EITHER INTO BLACKHEADS OR BIG PUSTULES

PHOTOS: SHINTA ROSVITA

ADAPALENE, RETINOL, RETINOIC ACID: WHAT I’VE LEARNED

What are their differences and which one to choose according to your skin problems?

My first introduction to this Vitamin A game, was Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream.

Contains 1.0% Retinol, I was worried when I first applied it. Purging is like a nightmare, and I don’t think I can deal with it (at that time before pandemic). Turned out, I didn’t purge at all using this cream. I applied twice a week and it did bring slight changes to my skin. It made my skin smoother with less oil plugs and it did deflate acne. I kept going using this for almost a year, until I realized that my hormonal acne and whiteheads on chin area kept on appearing when I used this oil-based cream.

That’s when I decide to step up my game to Adapalene right on this pandemic moment. As I’m also in a saving mode, I was glad to find Evalen Krim, a local brand from Indonesia. It’s super affordable compared to an imported brand, and yes, I was surprised by the great result (so far). Currently I’m still on my Adapalene journey (read here for the early stages), but I can already see drastic change on my skin. Adapalene seems to push every closed comedones I have out to the surface. Scary at first, it was like getting a bad facial. But I learned throughout the process, they showed up fast but they will be gone fast too. And eventually, they all will get better in 12 weeks (max). So, cross my fingers and I’ll update on separate blog post.

Then, I found a YouTuber applied Retinoic Acid on top of her Adapalene in her night time routine. I was like, what? Double the A’s, really? But turned out, it worked for her and I certainly wouldn’t mind to jump into the same wagon while #stayathome all the time. So, now I also apply Vitacid 0,05% Retinoic Acid Cream as a spot treatment on top of Adapalene.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED:

  • It’s true when they said that Retinol tends to have fewer side effects than Retinoic Acid. It’s gentler, so if you just started in this Retinol game, start with Retinol first then you can upgrade if your skin can tolerate.
  • Both of Retinol and Retinoic Acid are vitamin A (under the same RETINOID umbrella), but Retinol contains a lower concentration of the active Retinoic Acid ingredient. Compared to Retinoic Acid, Retinol is about 20 times less potent. So if you feel (like me) Retinol worked too slow, maybe it’s time to fasten up. But don’t just take it from me, speak with your dermatologist first.
  • I believe Retinol is more ‘cosmetic’, while Retinoic Acid is more prescription strength that goes deeply into the skin to stimulate collagen production & increase cell turnover.
  • Adapalene is a synthetic Retinoid and it’s supposedly better tolerated than Retinoic Acid. From my experience so far, it normalized both of my skin struggles: keratinization and microcomedone formation.Everyone might experience different side effects, especially during the first few days of treatment. Just be patient, they are not magic in a tube.Always sandwich with a gentle cleanser and three step moisture method (water, humectant, emollient). I guess I survived not having super bad ‘retinization’ (redness, dryness, and flaking caused by Retinoid), because of this method.