Skin Update #7: Acne and Acne Scars

It is time for a skin update post seeing as I haven’t done one in almost 2 years! In my skin update, I talk about my clear skin journey in relation to acne and acne scars. Many things have changed since my last skin update, so be sure to check out previous posts for further context.

In this post, I’ll be discussing my 2 years usage of 0.1% tretinoin, CO2 Fraxel Laser 1 year later and my new approach to skincare.


I started taking my clear skin journey seriously back in 2018 when I decided to consistently use a topical retinoid in my skincare routine. As time passed, my prescription strength increased from 0.1% adapalene to 0.1% tretinoin.

I have now been using 0.1% tretinoin for 2 years. 2023 is my 9th cumulative year using a retinoid in general. After using a retinoid in my nighttime skincare routine ever night, 0.1% tretinoin is where I reduced the frequency. I noticed it dried out my skin more and I relied on many layers of moisturizing products. With frequent 0.1% tretinoin use, my skin looked red and my skin texture looked more pronounced with the inflammation. I cut down the usage to 1-3x a week and this has been the best usage amount for maintenance mode.

In terms of results, tretinoin has more or less performed the same if not better since lowering my usage. It helps to reduce any inflamed acne, keeps skin looking refined and I rarely pay attention to my pores anymore. As I’ve said in the past, vitamin A in general is one of the best multipurpose actives you can introduce in your skincare routine, IF you have concerns to address. I’ve seen many a tale online of people who use it because they’re told to for their age and it ends up making their skin worse. To that I say, you don’t need it. Yes, it’s benefited me and others greatly, because we have the appropriate skin concern for it. If you’re looking to just do regular skin maintenance in general, just focus on keeping skin well moisturized and protected from excessive exposure to environmental stressors.

With all this said, this is a friendly reminder that tretinoin, vitamin A in general is not the end all for healthy skin.


CO2 Fraxel Laser and Acne Scars

It has now been around a year since my review on 3 CO2 Fraxel laser procedures for my atrophic acne scars. Nothing has reversed, results have stayed provided I maintain the health of my skin. If anything, I find the biggest indents on my face, on each cheek, seem less noticeable than when I last reviewed.

CO2 Fraxel Laser and Anti-Aging

In regards to anti-aging/well-aging… No, it has not stopped wrinkles from forming. It’s just the nature of the game when one’s face has expression. Frankly, I didn’t notice it do much with the thin line I had on my forehead. My neck however, saw good results. Tech neck lines are softer, the skin quality and texture looks better. In conjunction, better posture seems to also maintain and improve results.

I recall having a bit of an indent on my cheek, the side where I sleep on. I have noticed that indent is gone and my cheek looks full like the other side.

Overall my texture has been the best it has ever been since my pre-acne days. I no longer feel haunted by the acne of my past.

Acne Scar and Texture Home Maintenance

In the winter, I tried to rotate an AHA chemical exfoliant more in my skincare routine in the hopes of further smoothing out my skin. It is what I used prior to CO2 Fraxel Laser sessions and vitamin A in general. Even with my satisfactory results from laser, I still wanted to persist. I was still stuck in the endless pursuit for “perfect” skin. I ended up stopping after a month of weekly use. My skin was indeed looking smooth… And raw. It looked like I did not have a healthy layer protecting my skin. I also noticed my skin felt more sensitive than usual. It once again felt like I was going two steps forward, one step back. I decided then and there to stop using a chemical exfoliant. While it made sense in the past, it no longer serves my skin now.

Using 0.1% tretinoin plus keeping skin’s moisture levels in tact is more than enough to do the job. Both help normalize skin cell turnover, so I’d rather continue the gentler, simpler way than make my skincare overly complicated again. I find this gentle approach has actually helped my skin texture look better. Like I mentioned prior, I barely pay attention to my pores anymore, the tiniest of tiny texture on my face!


I am actually at a point where mentally, I no longer think of myself as someone with problematic skin. I no longer feel obsessed with trying the latest skincare, having all the ingredients, a multi-step skincare routine. A simple routine is much preferred, my interests go beyond skincare and my mind is in the present with all aspects of my life. Part of this drastic development is due to this year’s resolutions. This year for 2023, I decided it was time to re-discipline myself in healthy habits and approach clearing my skin more holistically. I have done it before in 2020, so I knew 2023 would be even better. I will go in more detail in a separate post, but the 3 main habits I’ve been doing for the past 6 months alongside simpler skincare are:

  1. Eating whole foods 90% of the time
  2. Charting my cycle
  3. Leading an active lifestyle

By focusing on my health and overall lifestyle, I find my mind has made a significant shift for the better. I wrote about mindsets when it comes to mental and skin clarity. I feel like I took it a step further, with no step back!


Recall 2021 with the skincare plateau, feeling like I have seen the extent that skincare can do. I then did my first Low Buy in 2022 in a pursuit of wanting less and reducing my skincare clutter. Near the end of 2022, I decided to officially slow down my skincare routine after back-to-back negative reactions on my face. With this realization about skincare and reducing the skincare clutter, more not being better, time and energy being better spent on my well being… I have come to understand my skin, my body and overall self. In return, I have clearer, healthier skin – skin that I no longer hide behind makeup, and I like myself more in general.

Although I’ve seen the extent skincare can do for me, I am still grateful for it. Skincare helped me with my skin problems in the moment, so I could finally have some inner peace and the mental capacity to think beyond products when it comes to clear skin.

I hope my clear skin journey so far has helped with yours in some way. It doesn’t have to be the same, but rather it makes you reflect further into what you’ve done and where you can go from here given your circumstance.

xo, M

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