Skin Update: Tretinoin Cream & Acne

Hi all! Happy 2017!

Thought I’d start off the year with a skin update because god knows my skin went through heaven & hell in 2016 and I finally got it under control with such affordable products that you can find in your local pharmacies. No fancy skincare stuff πŸ™‚ It’s a lengthy one but ever since I posted about my skin and Tretinoin cream almost 2 years back, I still get tons of people asking me about it till this day.

  • Skin Situation

If you’re new here or you missed out on my previous posts bout my skin, I have really sensitive acne prone skin and I’ve been breaking out on and off since forever ago. I went on Roaccutane/Oratane pills which ended early 2016 and my skin was clear for a while after being off the pill. It then broke out after I took matters into my own hands and went to a facial that I’ve never tried before, which made my skin insane.

If you have skin issues, you know how emotionally taxing it is. I got so self conscious, I stopped going to events and the worst part was that it was all happening a couple months before my wedding 😦 I almost lost all hope but then I decided to stay calm bout it, think of a solution and not lose my shit :p

  • Retin-A / Tretinoin Cream

I decided to go back on Retin-A (tretinoin cream) in September 2016. Tretinoin is the one thing I know for certain would help my case. If you don’t know what this is, read my previous post on it HERE. Long story short, it’s a vitamin A cream that speeds up cell turnover, helping to get rid of dead skin and scars.

I initially had to stop tretinoin when I was on Oratane pills because both of them are not advisable to be used at the same time. I started off with 0.1% which is the strongest strength thinking that it would be a smooth sailing recovery for my skin but I was wrong. My skin broke out worse than ever so I lowered the dose to 0.5%. Fortunately the initial purging stage only lasted for about 4 weeks and from then on, I’ve had clear skin all the way.

  • Skin Progress

I took photos every month to document my progress because I know I’ll be writing this post. So here they are.

augustAugust 2016: The photo on the left is taken right after extraction facial. I thought it would cool down but it kept getting worse. On the right is with makeup on so you can see the bumps clearly. I feel sad just looking at it.

septSeptember 2016: End of September is when I started Tretinoin 0.1% and the purging period started.

octOctober 2016: It was the worst in October. My skin was dry and it was peeling uncontrollably. I woke up with new bumps everyday and I was freaking out because it was just 2 months away from the wedding. I almost gave up but I continued with the Tretinoin and this was when I lowered the dosage to 0.05% and things got better at the end of October.


img_3135November 2016: And just like that, my skin cleared up almost 99% a month before the wedding. This was also because I up-ed my water intake, ate healthy and kept with my skincare routine.

img_3124-horzJanuary 2017: I didnt realized how much my skin improved till I edited this photos side by side. The scars are fading and the texture of my skin is much smoother now. It’s no where near perfect but I’m okay with that πŸ™‚ With this treatment, you have to be patient. 

  • Skincare Routine and Products

I kept my skincare simple. I use the same products day and night except for the tretinoin cream. Tretinoin can only be used once a day, at night. It’s a must to use sunscreen when you are using tretinoin treatment and I don’t show a sunscreen here because my makeup has SPF50 so it’s a 2 in 1 πŸ™‚ I’ve been keeping to this regimen for 4 months now and I’m still using them till today.  These are in order of how I use them.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is the best basic cleanser I found especially if you have problematic skin. The Cetaphil cleanser for oily skin breaks me out but this one cleanses and soothes my skin.

Witch Hazel Toner

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESGot this at M+ Pharmacy in Bangsar Village1 and I’m almost out of it. It leaves no residue and it works amazing as my second step. Witch hazel is also good to prevent acne.

Tretinoin treatment ( 0.05 %)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI let my skin dry for about 10 mins after toner and this is to reduce irritation caused by tretinoin. I then take the smallest amount of this and rub it into my skin. Never overdo it when it comes to this cream. I find that I can only use this brand of tretinoin cream. It works best for me personally and it’s less than RM15 which is awesomeeeee.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI discovered this when I bought the travelling set of Cetaphil cleanser and it came with the moisturizing cream. Been using it ever since and loving it although I have pretty oily skin. It works well as a makeup base too.

Lancome Eye Cream

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThis is my favorite eyecream for now. On my second little tub. It moisturizes my under eyes so well and my concealer goes nicely on top of it.

My skin went through a lot didn’t it haha. I’m grateful that I got it under control, there’s no greater feeling than that! Tretinoin is a tricky product so please talk to your dermatologists if you plan to treat your skin with it.

I personally did months of research before starting it and I’m just sharing my experience so please take this post with a grain of salt because everyone’s skin is different πŸ™‚ but tons of you messaged me saying that it worked for you too and I’m so glad that it helped you!

If you’re going through what I went through, I understand the frustration, but it gets better once you find a treatment that works for you and when you do, be religious with it and stick to it! Thank you guys for reading ❀ xx



16 thoughts on “Skin Update: Tretinoin Cream & Acne

  1. Lois the ultimate Bella fan

    Such rollercoaster ride babe!! But so happy your skin cleared up before the weddingπŸ’—
    You look pretty either way!

    Love you loads! Xoxo lois
    Your No.1 fan hihih ❀


  2. Sarah Liew

    Hi, Nice blog! it kinda gives me hope in healing my acne! haha
    May I know what brand is the tretinoin cream? I just bought Axcel Sorfic cream that contains 0.05% of tretinoin. Not sure about its efficiency as not much reviews available online.
    I heard that the brand Retin-A cream is discontinued in Malaysia tho :/ So i got the abovementioned instead haha.

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    thanks! πŸ™‚


    1. bellabae Post author

      Thank you for reading! My brand is like the one shown in the photo. Tretinon. Yea the brand Retin-A is discontinued here. I hope it will work great for u!!


      1. Belle

        Hi, girlfriend, ur skin is gorgeous..can I knw where can I get the tretinoin cream tht ur using, I’m living somewhere near too will be having my wedding end of this year, I hope my skin will look like u when the day comes..pls do reply, I’m desperate~thx


  3. Joanne

    Can I know where can I get Tretinon? Most of the pharmacies in my area seems to hv no stock. Which pharmacy that u frequent?


  4. Hidayu Musa

    i start to wear cetaphil gentle cleanser 4days ago and ccne rises non-stop. is it normal? now i have breakout skin 😦


  5. mai

    hullo πŸ™‚

    I was wondering, did you purchase your tretinon with or without prescription? and which pharmacy did you get it from?


  6. Aliyah

    Hi bella. Thank you for this post. Im currently starting using tretinoin. Its my second day.

    Can i know what skin care you use at morning and night time when you started using tretinoin on august till dec 17 which i can see it helps with tretinoin cream and doesnt affect your skin.

    Im currently using tretinoin cream also with facial cleanser, mosturizer and toner that contain salicylic acid which i know it can help to reduce pimple. I wonder if my skin care routine can be use with tretinoin cream or i hve to chnge all with gentle one without strong ingredients (salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide).

    Looking forward for your reply πŸ™πŸ½


    1. Aliyah

      πŸ‘†πŸ½πŸ‘†πŸ½ Oh yeah btw i had breakout, small pimple kinda like whitehead but tons of them on my forehead and right cheeks and few of them turns into big pimple!! I had it after i stop consume accutane for 4 months. My face become much more oily once again.


  7. Lynajua

    Hai, im so glad i stumbled upon ur blog :’) bcoz im facing the same problem since 2012 and my acne never leave me skin got better in 2015 and 2016 bcoz i used roaccutane but now i stopped. Then, on nov 2017 i tried to use a new product and it totally triggered my acne and it breaks out like crazy, my working environment wasnt helping at all and my self confidence drops to -ve right i stopped using all product and let my skin to rest and let all the acne to go out..and i started using retacnyl tretinoin again, hope i will get the same result as u! Pray for me! And thank u so much for this blog, kinda give me the spirit to get better again.. πŸ™‚


  8. novy

    hi!im 22 y.o girl who also struglling with acne on my face and my back. i lack of self esteem because the acne wone gone since a couple years ago. i always find a way to cure my acne but i never find a way. i tried every asthetic doctor to cure this acne, but once i didnt use their cream, the acne keeps coming back and it gotten worse after it. i take oral medicine and chemical peeling but there is no progress. and i have no idea about this super worst acne breakout on my face, after reading your article, i tried to find the tretinon in every pharmacy in indonesia, but however, i couldnt find it. if you dont mind, would you please write an article about tretinon and the contains details, so i could find something simillar contains from tretinon. thankyou for the article by the way!at least i found a little hope to cure my acne ( hopefully works for me )



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