Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I changed up my Dermatica personalised formula towards the end of last year. I had been using the Dermatica rosacea treatment for over a year and wanted to spice things up a little so – after consulting the Dermatica Dermatology Team – we introduced Vitamin A (AKA retinoid) into my monthly treatment. I’ve been using the new treatment for 3 months so here’s my full review.
Don’t forget that I have an exclusive discount code for you, so if you’re keen to try Dermatica for yourself, you can find the details at the end of the post.
This is a sponsored post with Dermatica.
My usual disclaimer applies here: I am not a doctor, I’m a person with rosacea who has been sharing her experiences online for 10+ years. My recommendations are not presented as gospel, just as an informed jumping off point. This blog is a place to start from, but it’s expected that you also do your own research and think about what is best for your skin.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph, I’ve been using Dermatica for 17 months and I’m over the moon with the results. I started with the Dermatica rosacea treatment and used that for over a year, seeing some seriously impressive results (you can read more about those HERE where I also cover who Dermatica are, how the service works, where it fits into your routine etc.)
My rosacea is pretty much under control, so after a year or so I felt like I could introduce some added extras into my Dermatica treatment. I wanted to keep some of the rosacea-focused ingredients to continue maintaining the positive effects of my original treatment, but I was intrigued by Vitamin A (AKA retinoids). I have so many friends who swear by this particular ingredient in their routines but let’s start with the basics…
WHAT IS VITAMIN A?
There’s a lot to say about this much-lauded ingredient, so if you want to read more about the benefits of Vitamin A/retinoids in skincare, take a look at THIS article. I’ve previously used a retinal in my routine, so I knew my skin could tolerate retinoids if I was careful and patient (more on that below). My main reasons for wanting to try this change in my treatment were to help target uneven texture, congestion on my t-zone, reduce pigmentation, and minimise fine lines.
HOW TO INTRODUCE RETINOIDS INTO TO YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE
Retinoids need to be introduced slowly, gently, and you need to start small. It’s tempting to hear about the wonderful results and jump straight into daily use and a high percentage product, but it’s important to be patient and sensible especially is you have sensitive skin. Below are my tips for introducing retinoids into your routine:
- Buffer your product. Cleanse your skin as normal, apply a light moisturiser, apply your Dermatica, then follow up with a moisturiser afterwards. This ‘skincare sandwich’ will help to cushion your skin, giving it a layer of protection, until your skin gets used to the active ingredient. I did this for the first week or so using the product and also when my treatment’s percentages changed.
- Keep the rest of your skincare simple: until you know how your skin will respond, it’s best to keep things as minimal as possible. Cleanser, moisturiser, sunscreen – the holy trinity! (EDIT March ’23: Dermatica have just launched a skincare range – read my full review HERE).
- Be realistic with your expectations: noticeable results for these kind of actives take a minimum 6 weeks, but more likely you are looking at months.
- Research the side-effects: it’s important to know what are very common and expected side-effects (see below) and what is a sign your skin is unhappy. Lean on the Dermatica team during this stage (more information on this below!)
HOW DOES DERMATICA WORK?
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about introducing retinoids into your routine, you’re not alone. But this is one of the (many!) reasons I think Dermatica are brilliant: they handle everything for you to help you climb the Vitamin A ladder slowly and carefully. As with all of the Dermatica treatments, you complete an online consultation where you answer questions about your skin, your routine, your expectations, and upload photos. Your answers and your photos are kept private and are only used by the Dermatologist Team internally to devise your perfect blend of ingredients. You are then sent a personalised monthly treatment which includes instructions on how to use and (most importantly) ongoing access to the Dermatologist Team. Things to bear in mind:
- If you have any concerns or questions, the Dermatica Dermatologist Team should be your first port of call. They are there to help and have access to all the information you provide in your initial consultation so their advice is informed and personalised.
- You and Dermatica are a team: you can have input into your treatment plan through your monthly check-ins. Every month you will receive an email asking for photos and comments about your treatment, so make use of those opportunities. For example, I used one of my check-ins to ask if I could delay an increase in my percentage for another month to make sure my skin was fully ready. Remember that they are the experts in skincare, but you are the expert in YOUR skin.
- Even if you don’t have questions or feedback about your treatment, I’d still recommend completing the photo updates each month. Changes to your skin happen slowly and, because we look at our faces every day, it can be hard to notice differences over time. It’s similar to seeing a friend’s baby once every few months and being amazed at different they look every time! Looking back over your skin photos over the months can be really interesting and useful to see how far you’ve come.
SIDE EFFECTS OF RETINOIDS
The words ‘side-effects’ always sound scary, but they are a very normal part of medications and treatments like these. The most common side-effects of retinoids are skin dryness and peeling, redness, and some mild irritation. For those of us with rosacea, this can be scary as this can feel very similar to a flare-up. This is where the tips I shared above come in handy, especially the tip about staying in touch with the Dermatica team: they are there to help you work out if the side-effects are normal and temporary, or whether you need to adjust or stop your treatment.
I had minor side-effects: peeling around my nose, between my eyebrows, and around my smile lines. It wasn’t really noticeable to anyone else and wasn’t painful at all: it was similar to the after-effects of a cold when your nose is peely and a bit sensitive after blowing it too much. It lasted about 7 days after each increase in my ingredient percentage. To help with this, I used the buffer method I shared above, applied moisturiser during the day, and relied on some more intense moisturisers to help me through.
RESULTS AFTER 3 MONTHS OF RETINOIDS
As I mentioned earlier, the results were slow and steady. I started to notice small changes after about 6 weeks but after three months, I’ve noticed a big difference:
- My skin feels and looks smoother. The texture overall has improved, as have the pores on my cheeks and forehead;
- The pigmentation around my eyes and on my chin is fading;
- The blackheads and comedones on my nose and chin are vastly improved. I don’t tend to get full-on spots, but I would often have red, under-the-skin bumps along my jaw and chin and I have also noticed that these have pretty much disappeared.
- The fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead are slightly reduced and my skin looks less ‘crepe-y’ in those areas overall.
- My rosacea has been really calm. Understandably I am always a little bit worried whenever I introduce an active into my routine as sensitive skin needs a little more care, but my rosacea has been fine (which is even more impressive when you consider that fact that the winter period is usually a stressful time for my skin with the cold, central heating, and festive indulgences!)
So let’s see the before and afters…!
I wanted to start with a close up, because this perfectly shows the things I wanted to target: on the left-hand side of my face in the top photo, you can see the texture, dullness, and slight dryness on my cheeks. You can also see some pigmentation around my eyes, especially on my cheekbones. My nose also looks congested with scattered comedones making it look dry. Then when we compare to the bottom photo…! I immediately noticed a reduction in texture and dullness on my cheeks, the glow on my cheekbones, the improvement in the appearance of my pores on my nose, and the pigmentation around my eyes has begun to fade.
Obviously I still have rosacea (!) so my skin is still pink-toned, and I have some stonking broken veins across my nose and on the apples of my cheeks, but they aren’t something that I can realistically change (or at least not with a topical cream!) but I wanted to show you some close-up, real skin results so you can have realistic expectations.
Here are some more before and afters:
One final look: Last month I took a photo in natural light and immediately noticed how glowy and smooth the skin looked on my cheek – I’m not wearing foundation or highlighter here!
SO WHAT NEXT?
I am continuing with my Dermatica treatment for the foreseeable future so I will continue to update you with my results on Instagram. With retinoids, your skin can sometimes plateau when it comes to the results you’re seeing and this is usually a sign to increase the strength of your ingredients. This will differ person to person, so it’s very much a case of seeing how things go and working with the Dermatica Dermatology Team to decide what’s best for my skin going forward.
Wow, that’s a lot of information! Hopefully I’ve answered all of your questions, if not please let me know and I’ll do my best to cover anything I may have missed. If you are interested in starting your skin journey with Dermatica, I have a REALLY good discount code for you (that you won’t find anywhere else!): use this link (UK) or this link (US) and the code LEX to get your first month for only £2.90, and 15% off your second AND third months! (monthly cost is usually £19.99). You can also read my review of the Dermatica skincare range HERE.
- Follow me on INSTAGRAM for lots of rosacea updates.
- Get more information on rosacea and my journey so far in my ROSACEA FAQ POST.
- Join my private rosacea FACEBOOK GROUP for support and information.
- I’ve designed some FREE digital downloads to help you get to grips with your rosacea: grab the Rosacea Trigger Checklist, the Rosacea Flare Up Diary, and the How To Speak To Your Doctor form.
- If you’re a Pinterest user, I share all my rosacea posts (and some interesting posts by others) on this board: Rosacea Articles, Reviews, And Infographics.