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Trying Tretinoin for Acne: Week 4 - Starting To See the New   

Learn more about the process of starting on Tretinoin, week-by-week. By week 4, our writer is passing the purge and seeing results.

Read on

If you’ve been following along, I’ve been trying tretinoin for my mild adult acne and reporting my results week-by-week. For the last 4 weeks, I’ve been slowly acclimating my skin to tretinoin 0.05%. 

Trying tretinoin can be a little scary for people, so I’m taking the plunge and reporting a field guide. 

Here are a few things that occurred during my 4th week of tretinoin. Spoiler, it’s starting to get good! 

Week 4 - Jumping in the deep end

Up until this point I’ve been slowly acclimating to this powerful retinoid. But this week, because I tolerated week 3 with little irritation, we’re stepping it up! 

(If you’re having a lot of irritation, don’t step it up, slow it down.)

This is my frequency schedule this week. 

I have 4 tretinoin days total. Two days back to back, with one break in between, following a 2-day break. 

Sun: Tretinoin day!

Mon: Tretinoin day!

Tues: Hydrating skincare

Wed: Tretinoin day!

Thur: Tretinoin day!

Fri: Hydrating skincare

Sat: Hydrating skincare

Things have both improved and worsened 

With tretinoin, you’ve gotta take the wins and roll with the purge “setbacks”.

Currently, parts of my skin (the upper half) are looking and feeling newer and fresh. Almost like a smooth blurring effect on my upper cheeks.

While, the lower half, (around my chin) is experiencing purge-like pimples. 

Sometimes, the pimples are no biggie, just whiteheads that disappear within 24 hours. Other times, it feels like pimples are emerging from the depths of my skin! 

These pimples often begin as “blind pimples” (with no head) until they start coming further up to the surface. These are taking a while to heal. 

Purge aside, irritation side effects have really slowed 

Interestingly, as I’m stepping things up, irritation is slowing down.

Week 4 irritation level: 1.5/10

The only side effect at this point is a tiny bit of drying around my chin, and very slight itching. 

For drying and itching, I’ve started using thick shea butter based balms at night. During the day I’m using jojoba oil and some rosewater which is really soothing. 

My skin is not particularly sensitive or reactionary. Those who have more sensitive skin might not have this same “retinoid timeframe” or be able to step things up as fast as I have. Always listen to your skin when it comes to retinoids.

Also Read: Top 5 Best Moisturizers to Use With Tretinoin 

Areas of post-hyperpigmentation are brightening and clogged pores are smoothing

Prior to starting tretinoin, I had areas of clogged pores and hyperpigmentation on my cheeks (mostly my right cheek). 

The exfoliating ingredients in Strut’s Anti-Aging Formula have really brightened up these areas and smoothed them out. Now, there are no active pimples or clogged areas at all.

The post-inflammatory pinkness will continue to brighten with time and consistent use of tretinoin (and SPF 50). 

But, note, this area got a little worse during week 3. Week 4 is when I started to see a real improvement from baseline. 

(Week 3 was the worst so far for purging and irritation for me. But, again, everyone is different.)

The hyperpigmentation spots are still there, but significantly brighter now and areas of congestion are smoothing out.

I’m excited to see what 2 months of use can do.  


We’re past the initial weeks! 

It usually takes tretinoin treatments around 12 weeks (3 months) to show a significant reduction in acne. Right now, we’re one month down! 

The first few weeks are commonly the worst in terms of irritation, acclimation, and purge symptoms. (However, purging might continue for up to 6 weeks.)

From where I stand now, I would assume some purging will continue for me, but pimples are slowing way down in frequency in week 4.  

But we’ll have to see! 

Onward, friends. Consistency is key. 

Trying Tretinoin: a retinoid field guide 

I’m trying tretinoin and reporting a field guide. Follow along to learn how to use tretinoin like a pro. Read along!

Week 1 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 2 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 3 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 4 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 5 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 6 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 7 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 8 Trying Tretinoin Series

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