results using dear brightly and retinoids
August 1, 2021 2:26 pm

Dear Brightly: My Personal Experience with Derm-grade Retinoids (with updates)

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As a woman who’s now in my thirties, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until this last year that I started to take my skincare seriously. I mean, I would wash my face and take my makeup off every night (for the most part), but I wasn’t using any specialized skincare products. I was always the kind of gal who grabbed whatever was on the drugstore shelf and called it good.

I noticed the fine lines increasing on my forehead and around my mouth, but I didn’t really do anything about it. I thought the only way I could minimize those was to get Botox or some other expensive, luxury treatment. That was until I discovered Retinoids.

Today, I’m excited to share with you my review and personal experience with Dear Brightly, a beauty company that’s making derm-grade retinoids accessible online.

But wait, there's more!

Recently, I tried hello wisp's skincare product line. All I have to say is WHOAH! #legit. Read my review of wisp skincare and see if it's worth it for you.

Ok, on to Dear Brightly!

What Are Retinoids and Why Are They Important?

Before I dive into my review and personal experience with Dear Brightly, I want to first provide you with a little education on Retinoids, because if you’re like me, you may not know a whole lot about them yet. And considering there is more than 50 years of research on them, it’s nice to know the facts before you consider adding them to your skincare regime.

So, what are retinoids? Retinoid is an umbrella term for Vitamin A and its derivatives. Doctor-prescribed, dermatologist-grade retinoids are often referred to as “retinoids.” But you can also get over the counter retinoids, and those are often referred to as Retinol. This blog post is incredibly helpful in the differentiation of the various names.

Dear Brightly's platform connects you with a doctor to get Tretinoin or retinoic acid. This was the first retinoid. It was originally used to treat acne back in the 1970s, but researchers later discovered that it also had properties that helped fade actinic keratosis spots, even out skin pigmentation, and accelerate the turnover of superficial skin cells.

I know that sounds quite technical, so here are the main benefits of Retinoids and what you can expect as a result of using them:


Retinoids work to prevent wrinkles by directly stimulating collagen production. As we age, our skin naturally produces less collagen. This is a problem because it’s the structural protein of our skin. When we’re producing less collagen, our skin begins to dry and lose its elasticity. As a result, lines and wrinkles begin to appear and our skin is looser and thinner.


When there is an overproduction of pigment on our skin (which is very common), the result is uneven pigmentation in the form of dark spots, freckles, and melasma. These pigmentation issues are commonly the result of sun exposure, hormonal fluctuations, and skin injuries. Retinoids helps to even out your skin and reduce pigmentation by dispersing and exfoliating melanin granules in the deepest layer of your skin. 


Our pores often become enlarged due to factors like sebum production, photodamage, and hair follicle size. Retinoids help to minimize the appearance of large pores by working to clear out the cellular debris around them, thereby making them smaller.

Rough or uneven skin

Rough skin is the result of a buildup of dead skin cells and a lack of glycosaminoglycan in the outermost layer of your skin. Retinoids combat this by reducing the outer layer of dead skin cells and increasing the presence of glycosaminoglycan.


There are two classifications of acne: noninflammatory and inflammatory. Noninflammatory acne is characterized by comedones and inflammatory acne which consists mostly of papules and pustules. Retinoids work to decrease noninflammatory acne as well as cause some reduction in inflammatory acne.

What is Dear Brightly?

Dear Brightly is a beauty company that’s powered by telehealth. Their goal is to democratize beauty and to make essential skincare products more accessible. All their products are clinically reviewed and prescribed by licensed dermatologists.

It’s Dear Brightly’s mission to make skincare simple and stress-free so that we can spend less time and money using the trial and error system and more time doing the things we love with the people we love. They allow their customers to get easy access to custom-tailored skincare prescriptions online from the comfort of their own homes and on their schedules.

Here are some of the key features of this service to keep in mind:

  • It’s not a doctor or pharmacy, rather it’s a platform that streamlines and simplifies the process of obtaining a prescription retinoid. Dear Brightly connects you with the dermatologist.
  • Everything is done online. There is no need to visit a dermatologist's office, but you’ll still get access to a board-certified provider.
  • Each prescription is personalized and tailored to your unique skin type and needs.
  • It’s incredibly affordable when compared with traditional retinoids. In fact, users save up to $200 when compared with a traditional dermatologist’s visit.
  • It’s highly effective. There is over 50 years of research and the retinoids prescribed to you are up to 20x more potent than any over the counter retinol you can purchase.

How it Works

Getting started with Dear Brightly is so simple. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Make your purchase through the website.

Step 2: Share your skin story by filling out a detailed questionnaire about your skin.

Step 3: Upload photos per the guidance within your profile.

Step 4: A board-certified doctor will review your profile and write you a prescription (if applicable).

Step 5: Your custom-tailored retinoid serum will be sent to you in the mail!

That’s it! There’s no need to find a dermatologist, make an appointment, wait to get in, drive to the office, and so on - you can do everything right from the comfort of your own home and on your schedule.

Why I Decided To Start Using a Retinoid

As I mentioned, I am now in my thirties and I know I haven’t always been the kindest to my skin. I’ve spent a lot of time in the sun and I never had a serious skincare routine, which I know many women who can relate to similar situations.

I’ll be honest, though, I’ve always had great skin. Aside from breakouts during pregnancy, my face has always been relatively clear, bright, and acne-free. But I was starting to really notice the wrinkles on my forehead and they were beginning to bug me.

I started looking for moisturizers and treatments online that would help reduce these fine lines and wrinkles, and honestly wasted a substantial amount of money on over-the-counter products that simply didn’t do what they claimed to be able to do on the label.

I started doing some research into Retinol and how it works to correct skin issues, including the reduction of wrinkles by boosting the body’s own natural collagen production, and was instantly intrigued. Not surprisingly, I discovered that the best retinoids are available by prescription only, and considering I lived in a very small, remote town at the time and had two small children at home, the thought of driving a couple of hours out of town to attend an appointment was not in the least bit thrilling to me.

That’s when I discovered Dear Brightly and their telehealth service that connects customers with board-certified dermatologists who can write you a prescription for derm-grade retinoid all via the internet. Next, I’ll detail for you my experience thus far with the brand and my results.

My Experience and Results Using Dear Brightly

First of all, I want to mention that getting started with this platform is so simple and convenient. After creating your profile, you’ll be led through a quick questionnaire and then asked to upload some photos of your skin inside your profile. Once I did this, I was connected with a derm within a day or two who advised me that she prescribed me a certain dosage based on my skin’s needs. It couldn’t have been easier!

Within a week, I received my derm-grade Tretinoin in the mail. It came with a prescription label, just as if I would have gone and got one from a dermatologist in person, and it had instructions for use. I also noticed that within the Dear Brightly account dashboard there is a ton of information regarding my unique formula, how to use it, what to expect, etc. There’s also an FAQ section that answered all my questions.

I started using my retinoid as directed, which was at nighttime every third night to start. After about a week and a half, I increased my usage to every other night and then about two weeks later I increased again to using it every night after washing my face.

Recommended reading: hers review

My Experience so far

After using this product for just a month and a half so far, I can already see a huge difference in the look and feel of my skin. It feels tighter, more supple, and overall healthier. I did/do experience some dryness every once in a while, which I know is a very normal part of the process. I combat the dryness by applying a layer of facial moisturizer after using my retinoid every night.

I also experienced a slight breakout in the beginning, but it’s difficult to know if that was due to the retinoid or hormonal changes as I sometimes get a pimple or two around my time of the month.

When comparing this product to anything else I’ve used thus far, there really is no comparison as this is the only skincare product I’ve used that I can actually tell a difference in my skin with. I feel as though my forehead lines and wrinkles are already beginning to minimize and I am confident that with continued use they will further diminish - which is exciting because that’s exactly why I started this regime!

Keep in mind that it takes time and consistency to see results, so don't expect any miracles overnight!

I was honestly surprised by how affordable it was to get started with a prescription-strength product like this. I know that had I gone to an in-person derm I would have shelled out a lot more money and had been required to invest a lot more time.

My Skincare Routine

Integrating this product into my nightly routine is simple. Here's what it looks like:

1. cleanse
2. treat with retinoid
3. moisturizer


Beginning any kind of new routine can feel overwhelming, especially when it relates to something as sensitive as your skin and your appearance, which is why I always recommend doing all your research beforehand and making sure you’re making the right choice for you. To aid in this, I added a list of FAQs below that I think are helpful as you decide if Dear Brightly’s service is right for you and your skincare needs.

Q: Where is Dear Brightly available?

A: They are limited by telehealth regulations for prescription-grade services, so be sure to check with them before ordering to make sure that they provide service in your state.

Q: Can I use my health insurance?

A: No, this service is not covered by insurance. But even if you were to use an in-person dermatologist for your prescription, many insurance companies do not offer coverage for beauty or cosmetic reasons.

Q: Is this a subscription service?

A: Yes, Dear Brightly works on an auto-refill basis with the option to cancel your plan at any time. The reason for the auto-refill plan is that it takes consistent use for you to see and experience your desired results. Your skin needs time to adjust to the retinoids, which takes about 4 weeks. Your first shipment will be for a 2-month supply and all subsequent refills are a 3-month supply. It always makes it really convenient as you never have to remember to refill your prescription, your refills will come right to your door per your delivery schedule which can all be accessed, viewed, and changed within your account profile.

Q: Is there an age restriction on who can obtain derm-grade retinoids from Dear Brightly?

A: Yes, this service is intended for men and women aged 18 and over. Dermatologists recommend that you start using retinoids in your 20s to prevent signs of photoaging

Q: Are there any side effects of using retinoids?

A: Yes, many people will experience some degree of skin sensitivity, dryness, peeling, and redness. However, you can greatly minimize these effects by following your doctor’s orders carefully and using the product only as directed and by applying an approved moisturizer before or after your retinoid. Keep in mind that any side effects are temporary and will only be present as your skin gets used to the product.

If you have additional questions or want more information before deciding if this telehealth skincare service is right for you, check out their FAQ page and feel free to contact their team at [email protected]

Final Thoughts

Aside from going to bed earlier and drinking more water, choosing to take care of my skin with derm-grade retinoids has been the most grown up decision I have made recently. If I could go back to my 20-year old self and tell her one thing (well, let’s be honest, there would be a few things), I would tell her that your skin matters and that if you don’t care for it properly it won’t have the look and feel that you want and deserve as you begin to age

I like Dear Brightly and the unique and much-needed service they are providing to people all across the country. Especially this year with COVID-19, there are so many people that are neglecting their health simply because they couldn’t get out to see a doctor or they don’t want to put themselves at risk by doing so. Dear Brightly makes the entire process simple and pain-free and I am ecstatic to continue on my journey with retinoids and see how my skin continues to transform.

Other Options and Brands

There are, however, other great options and brands that may be a better fit for you. My first recommendation would be Hello Wisp Skincare. The Wisp brand is innovative, and they provide excellent service.

I can also recommend hers, a good telemedicine company that has a proven track record, good customer service and people who care, just like dear brightly does.

Dear Brightly

wisp (recommended)

About the author 

Tami Smith

A fitness enthusiast, Tami Smith is an ACE certified fitness trainer, specializing in pre and post-natal fitness. She studied business and earned her bachelor's degree in Business Economics. Tami is a mom of two and women's health advocate. Her passion is to help people live a fit, healthy life!

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