I’d Never Heard of Winlevi, but It’s Been a Game-Changer For My Acne

POPSUGAR Photography / Ariel Baker

I’ve had acne-prone skin since I hit puberty. While it started as small, textured bumps, over the years the condition progressed to a combination of black and whiteheads that were always relatively easy to get rid of if I just left them alone or popped them (I know, I know).

That is, until I turned 26. I had experienced hormonal acne before, but for some reason, that magical year was when my skin decided to kick it into overdrive. This resulted in cystic breakouts in places I didn’t even know you could break out. From the middle of my chin to the sides of my lower jaw and even my neck, this new onset of pimples was not only incredibly unsightly but also deeply painful to the touch. It was the first time I started wondering if I should go to the doctor for my acne, but it became a nonnegotiable when I got engaged and starting planning a wedding. I needed to start my journey to clear skin.

Thankfully, I was able to see one of the best dermatologists in the game, Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, who prescribed me a new skin-care routine – the topical ointment Tretinoin 0.04%, a medicated face wash, and a new product called Winlevi. First introduced to the market for the treatment of acne in 2020, Dr. Henry described the latter as one of the best treatments for my hormonal bumps, and it has been lauded as such by numerous other doctors. As dermatologist Ted Lain, MD, FAAD, previously told PS, the easy-to-use cream targets oil production, reducing the amount of sebum that could effectively trigger breakouts.

Was I excited about this product potentially changing the game for my acne? Yes. Then I saw the price – and almost opted out entirely. At more than $200, I was skeptical to invest in a cream I had never heard about.

However, it’s been about eight months of consistent use, and I can’t see myself not using Winlevi in the future. Here’s what to know about my experience.

Winlevi Before and After

Before Winlevi in September 2022 vs. a few months into using the cream, February 2024

My Winlevi Cream Experience

I started my journey with the Winlevi cream in August 2023. For my regimen, I was told to use it all over in the mornings and then use tretinoin at night. At first I was a bit overzealous and would squeeze out more of the product than I needed, which would leave behind a white cast, so I started dotting a dime-sized amount to my entire face. This has helped not only with the ghostly appearance, but I have also found that it’s allowed the one tube to last me months, which makes me feel much better about the initial price.

Today, while my acne is not completely gone, I have noticed a significant reduction in the hormonal flare-ups that I was experiencing before. I’m no longer scared about touching my cheeks or neck in fear of aggravating a pimple that was taking up way too much real estate in the first place because, for the most part, the bumps are no longer there. When the odd one does show up, it doesn’t grow to the point of being extremely painful.

It’s worth noting that I am using the cream in conjunction with other medical-grade products: the face wash, which has 10 percent sodium sulfacetamide (which targets bacteria on the skin), and tretinoin, another topical treatment. There are times when I take a break from the latter if I overdo it and my skin becomes sensitive; that is when I realize just how effective Winlevi is.

Without the strong exfoliating properties of tretinoin, the Winlevi cream somehow still manages to keep my skin looking relatively clear from breakouts. It also doesn’t cause any sensitivity when used by itself – another win for my sometimes easily-reactive skin. Typically, the most I see is some small, under-the-skin bumps left over from previous bouts of acne.

Is Winlevi Worth It?

It’s been almost a year of using this product and I can honestly say that I have no plans to go back to the way life was before it. Eventually, I do want to get to the point where my skin’s texture is as smooth as it is clear of acne, but for now, I finally feel like I’ve found a solid skin-care routine that I can rely on before I look into other options like lasers to address the rest of my concerns.

Winlevi is a relatively new drug so there isn’t a generic – and therefore, cheaper – version of it available to buy just yet, but if the price tag is too steep for you, there are some instances where it is covered by insurance (like if your particular treatment of acne is deemed medically necessary), which can help offset the cost. Now that I feel like I have this secret weapon, I will never go back to just randomly trying mattifying face creams and hope that they help with my oily, acne-prone skin. Winlevi feels about as valuable to me as gold right now, and with one of the most important days of my life coming up, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Related: What Is Your Skin Type? Take This Easy Quiz to Find Out

Ariel Baker is the assistant editor for POPSUGAR Beauty. Her areas of expertise include celebrity news, beauty trends, and product reviews. She has additional bylines with Essence and Forbes Vetted.

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