This Is How I Introduced Retinoids Into My Skincare Routine Without Burning My Face

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When it comes to topical vitamin A products like retinoids and retinol, there is a lot of hesitancy from people about introducing these into their skincare routine. And, for good reason. Retinoids, are stronger and must be prescribed, while retinol is a weaker form that is available over-the-counter, are extremely effective but also can do a lot of damage if not introduced properly.

Why is this product so beloved when it can be harsh on the skin? Well, because retinoids are so damn effective at reducing fine lines and wrinkles and acne while also improving skin texture, increasing collagen production in the skin and generally making it look plumper and smoother. And, this is the precise reason why I wanted to start on my own journey of incorporating retinoids into my skincare routine.

Even as a beauty editor, the thought of doing this was a little intimidating. I’ve read many horror stories about how people have compromised their skin barriers by using too much retinol or retinoids too quickly. You see, these products need to be introduced slowly, over a matter of months in order to get your skin used to the product.

Instead of venturing out on my own, I enlisted the help of the team at Qr8 MediSkin — a service that provides custom prescription skin treatments like retinoids. The products prescribed by the team at Qr8 MediSkin can only be obtained with just that, a prescription. “They are not over-the-counter skincare or cosmetics,” reads the Qr8 MediSkin website.

Qr8 MediSkin doesn’t just deal with treatments like mine either, which was all about “future-proofing” my skin. The team also treats issues like acne, signs of ageing & sun damage, melasma, pigmentation and rosacea.

To begin this journey, I had a 1:1 appointment with Dr Scott Ellis via Zoom, where we talked about my skin goals and why I was interested in retinoids. There is no up-front charge for the first consultation with a physician at Qr8 MediSkin. If following the e-consult, you or the physician decides you are not an appropriate candidate for prescription skincare, there isn’t a cost.

If you are assessed as suitable for the treatment, you are invoiced for a one-off, an all-inclusive charge that includes your customised skincare treatment that is sufficient for roughly three months as well as follow-up support from the Skincare Support Team at Qr8 MediSkin. This fee also includes a review appointment at the end of your treatment.

Dr Ellis gave me the green light that I was in fact suitable for prescription retinoids and he organised my customised product to be compounded and sent to me via Express Post. I received this a few days later and the personalised product, which was called Qr8 Tretinoin & Niacinamide Cream, included the most bioactive form of topical vitamin A: Tretinoin which helps encourage and normalise skin cell turnover.

My personal instructions were to apply the cream once a week, then the next week, two nights a week, then the next week, three nights a week until I eventually worked my way up to seven nights a week. Over three months, I slowly built up my use of the customised Qr8 Tretinoin & Niacinamide Cream and was relieved that I didn’t experience any skin flare-ups or issues during this process.

It should also be noted that during this time, I stripped my skincare back to the basics. I stopped using any acids and my beloved vitamin C serum in the morning, instead opting for just a moisturiser and SPF. In the evening, I cleansed my skin with a gentle cleanser and followed it up with rosehip oil and moisturiser — that’s it. Retinoids can cause discomfort when used in conjunction with other ingredients, which is why its important to strip back your skincare routine.

During this time of introduction, I was also able to reach out to the Skincare Support Team via email or phone but I honestly didn’t have any need to as the treatment was smooth and I didn’t experience any untoward side effects of the retinoids.

Since beginning my journey with prescription retinoids, I have noticed a positive change in the texture of my skin— it looks a lot smoother — and a reduction in hormonal acne, which usually pops up on my chin. And, I feel good knowing I’m using a product that has a plethora of positive research behind it that dates back to the 1970s.

According to chemistry PhD and science educator, Michelle Wong (AKA Lab Muffin), the reason why retinoids get such huge clout in the world of “skincare is the wealth of evidence that support their use. There are hundreds of high-quality clinical trials on the benefits of tretinoin for skin, which is why it’s often referred to as a ‘gold standard’.”

While there are a number of over-the-counter retinol products available on the market, if you have the means to access a service like Qr8 MediSkin, it’s something I would highly recommend. Incorporating retinol or retinoids into your routine too quickly can cause serious discomfort when not used properly.

And, as the prescription retinoids are much stronger than retinol, it is often more effective. Even with extensive beauty knowledge, this process intimidated me so don’t hesitate to enlist professional help if you’re feeling the same when it comes to retinoids. For more information, visit the Qr8 MediSkin website.

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