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Trying Tretinoin for Acne: Week 5 Update

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For the last 5 weeks, I’ve been trying out 0.05% tretinoin for my acne. As with most acne treatments, it can take around 12 weeks to see a difference. This week’s update is pretty straightforward as there were no notable changes in my skin.

In this update I’ll give you the entire timeline run down so far. This can help you know what to expect for your first month on tretinoin. (Everyone’s experience is different though!) 


My tretinoin timeline updates so far

If you want to catch up on the experience so far, here is a quick recap.

Week 1 - I had a little bit of irritation but nothing crazy. My skin didn’t really show any signs of change. I spent a lot of time prepping my skin making sure it was in good shape before beginning.

Week 2 - I started to see small surface-level pimples this week and I had a little bit of peeling. 

Week 3-  “The purge” begins. I started having pimples suddenly pop up. Some were very surface level but others were deep clogged pores being pushed to the surface. This is when you might be tempted to stop using tretinoin, but don’t! 

Week 4 - I really started to see the difference retinoids can make. Some parts of my skin were purging for sure, but other areas were brighter, smoother, and healthier looking. While some areas were not looking great because of purge pimples, there was definitely an improvement in other areas. 

Week 5 - Smooth sailing and higher SPF 

This week was pretty straightforward for me. I had the same frequency schedule as last week and didn’t have any new symptoms. 


This is my frequency schedule this week: 

Sun: Tretinoin day!

Mon: Tretinoin day!

Tues: Hydrating skincare

Wed: Tretinoin day!

Thur: Tretinoin day!

Fri: Hydrating skincare

Sat: Hydrating skincare


Increased sensitivity to the sun

This week, I noticed the sun feels so much more powerful on my skin since using tretinoin. I was of course wearing daily SPF, but I felt like I wanted to increase my protection.

So, this week I bought two sunscreen products, both tinted and 50 SPF. These tinted options have really helped with covering up areas that are breaking out while also getting the extra sun protection I need. 

Of the 2 sunscreen products I bought, this Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Sunscreen is definitely the favorite. It’s around $14, has a universal sheer tint, and feels great on the skin (it’s not greasy or cakey). 

I can say that while using tretinoin, it’s a must to invest in a sunscreen you really like wearing. (Also, maybe a sunhat!)



Low levels of irritation but acne is temperamental 

Week 5 irritation level: 0/10 woo hoo!

There was no itchiness (probably the most annoying symptom from the first few weeks), no redness, and no peeling.

I feel like the initial weeks were the peak irritation days for my skin (and that was relatively low). 

Now on week 5, tretinoin does not irritate my skin at all. 


Acne report: 

Same as last week, there’s good news and bad news. 

The good news is some parts of my skin are looking and feeling fresh. The bad news is some areas are actively blooming new pimples. 

Recently, these pimples have been popping up overnight and are coming in pairs (or more). They have also been slower to resolve because they are coming from deep in my skin. 

I have a feeling this “deep skin purge” is going to continue. It’s definitely nothing scary or upsetting, just a little annoying. But hey, I’d rather have cleared out pores so, no pain no gain. 


Read more of the trying tretinoin series

I’m trying tretinoin and reporting a field guide, updating readers who might be considering trying tretinoin for their acne. 

Tretinoin can be a little scary because it may worsen your skin before it helps improve it. In this series, I’ll be telling you exactly what I experience while trying tretinoin  


Trying Tretinoin Week 1 Complete Step-by-Step Skin Routine 

Week 2 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 3 Trying Tretinoin Series

Week 4 Trying Tretinoin Series


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