Everything You Need To Know About Tretinoin

2021-10-21T21:24:55.504Z

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Slather - Everything You Need To Know About Tretinoin

A blog article written for Slather, Apostrophe's blog, entitled Everything You Need To Know About Tretinoin

Aimee PaikDoctorateDegreeAmerican Board of DermatologyBoard Certified DermatologistChief Medical OfficerDermatologist100A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions involving the skin, hair, and nails. A dermatologist can identify and treat more than 3,000 conditions. These conditions include eczema, psoriasis, and skin cancer, among many others.
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2021-10-21T21:24:55.504Z
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Everything You Need To Know About Tretinoin

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Apostrophe's Products

Everything You Need To Know About Tretinoin

Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD

Written by Annie Lam

Last updated 10/4/2021

If you've ever searched for a treatment for your acne, tretinoin is something that's likely come up on your Google search. It's loved by dermatologists and has been used for decades to treat a variety of skin concerns.

Tretinoin is one of our favorite ingredients, so today we're breaking down everything you need to know about tretinoin.

What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin is a vitamin A derivative that is used to treat a variety of skin concerns. It's a prescription retinoid that's considered the gold standard in dermatology. Tretinoin is well-loved by skincare experts - and for good reason!

What does tretinoin treat?

One of the reasons why dermatologists love tretinoin is because it's multi-functional. Tretinoin treats skin concerns like acne, fine lines/wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Whether you're dealing with one skin condition or all three, prescription tretinoin could be a great fit for you! Let's talk about how this gold-standard ingredient can treat all of these concerns.

Tretinoin for acne

What tretinoin is most commonly prescribed for is acne vulgaris. Tretinoin topical treatment is an effective acne treatment because it unclogs pores and keeps them clear. This vitamin A derivative can be used to treat all severities and types of acne. Whether you're dealing with blackheads, whiteheads, or more severe acne, tretinoin can help keep your acne under control long term.

Tretinoin for wrinkles

Another reason people reach for this gold-standard ingredient is for treating signs of aging. Tretinoin can help treat fine wrinkles and lines by stimulating collagen production in the skin. This increase in collagen can lead to firmer, smoother, more youthful skin over time.

Tretinoin for acne scars

Tretinoin's ability to treat acne scars and hyperpigmentation makes it a triple threat. It helps with exfoliating dead skin cells and resurfacing the skin to lighten dark spots, sun damage, and age spots. There are many types of acne scars, but tretinoin is best used to treat hyperpigmentation and sun damaged skin.

Tretinoin vs other retinoids

How is tretinoin different from other retinoids? There are many different types of retinoids, including retinol, adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene, and more. Tretinoin is an active form of retinoic acid, so it can be quickly used by the body.

  • Tretinoin vs Retinol

Retinol is a gentle retinoid that's available in many over-the-counter retinol products. It's a great accessible option for preventative anti-aging, but it has not been proven to effectively treat acne. Retinol actually has to convert two times to become retinoic acid, so it takes longer to see results. The results may also not be as dramatic compared to tretinoin.

  • Tretinoin vs Adapalene

Adapalene is a prescription-strength retinoid that has more recently become available over-the-counter in the US. It's a great option for treating mild acne but isn't as proven for treating signs of aging. If you're looking for an affordable, accessible acne medication, adapalene is a solid choice!

  • Tazarotene vs Tretinoin

Tazarotene is the strongest topical retinoid and is typically prescribed for severe acne. It's stronger than tretinoin but is much more sensitizing. It's typically only prescribed to people with very resilient skin.

How to use tretinoin

Here are some of our derms' top recommendations when using your tretinoin topical treatment:

  • Start out using tretinoin 2-3 times a week and build up to every night as tolerated.

  • When applying topical tretinoin, a little goes a long way. Use a pea-sized amount and dot it across the skin to make it easier to spread.

  • If you have dry skin or sensitive skin, try applying tretinoin before and after moisturizer. This helps to minimize sensitivity and irritation.

  • Keep your routine simple when starting out. Minimize use of other potentially irritating products like an alpha hydroxy acid product.

How long does it take for tretinoin to work?

Typically you will begin to see progress after 8-12 weeks. More severe acne, wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation may take longer to see results. It's important to stay consistent with your treatment for best results!

Side effects of tretinoin

Tretinoin has many amazing benefits, but it does have some side effects that are important to know.

Potential irritation - When first starting out, it can cause initial sensitivity or skin irritation like peeling, dryness, and flakiness. This is sometimes called "retinoid or retinol uglies." It can take up to 10 weeks for your skin to adjust, so be patient with your skin.

Sun Sensitivity - Tretinoin can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, especially during the first 6 months of use, so it's important to keep your skin protected. We recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat for additional protection. Good sun protection will also prevent skin aging and dark spots, so you’ll be helping yourself in more ways than one!

The Tretinoin Purge - Tretinoin increases your skin's cell turnover rate, which may cause an initial "purge" of increased breakouts. Your skin purges because it's bringing any dead skin cells and build up in the pores to the surface. It can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but clear skin is on the other side.

There aren't many drug interactions between tretinoin and other ingredients with one exception: benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide actually inactivates tretinoin, so we recommend using these two ingredients separately.

How to get tretinoin

Unlike retinol, you can't buy tretinoin over-the-counter. Because it's prescription-strength, it must be given under the guidance of a medical provider to ensure you will have the best results. Luckily, Apostrophe makes it easy to get professional care online.

Our tretinoin cream contains 4% niacinamide to help improve tolerability. Niacinamide and tretinoin are a great pair because niacinamide helps to improve your skin's natural barrier function.

At Apostrophe, we also offer tretinoin combined with other acne-fighting medications like azelaic acid, clindamycin, topical spironolactone, and more. This can help treat multiple skin concerns or types of acne

If you're ready to add tretinoin to your skin care routine, get started with Apostrophe today. You'll receive a customized acne treatment plan crafted by a board-certified dermatologist. We're excited to help you on your journey to healthy skin. 

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