Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty FNP
Written by Apostrophe Team
Last updated 2/1/2023
If you’ve ever looked into science-based skincare treatments, you’ve almost certainly heard of tretinoin.
Tretinoin is a topical retinoid. It’s one of the most versatile skincare medications available, with research showing that it can treat everything from acne to many common signs of aging.
Unlike many other science-based skincare treatments, tretinoin is relatively inexpensive, with a month’s supply typically priced from $25 to $40.
However, like many other medications, there are a few things that you should know about tretinoin in order to get the best deal.
Below, we’ve explained what tretinoin is, how it works and how much you can expect to pay for topical tretinoin creams and gels.
We’ve also listed where you can buy tretinoin, from your local pharmacy to online vendors, and more.
Tretinoin is a type of topical retinoid. It’s a derivative of vitamin A that’s widely used in skincare and as a treatment for certain diseases.
Tretinoin comes in two forms: topical tretinoin and oral tretinoin, or isotretinoin. Topical tretinoin is approved by the FDA as a treatment for acne and as an anti-aging medication that can treat fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation issues (age spots) and rough skin texture.
Put simply, tretinoin is like the Swiss Army knife of skincare — used the right way, it can treat a diverse range of common skin issues.
In the United States, tretinoin is marketed under several brand names. You may have heard of it as Retin-A®, Avita®, Altinac®, Tretin X®, Altreno,®, Renova®, Atralin® or Refissa®.
In its oral form, isotretinoin is used to treat moderate to severe acne, as well as persistent forms of acne such as cystic acne.
When it comes to acne medication, “effective” doesn’t necessarily mean “expensive.” Although it’s highly effective at treating acne, tretinoin is very affordable. In fact, a 30-day supply will typically cost $15 to $25, give or take.
Several different factors can affect how much tretinoin costs. The first of these is the strength of the tretinoin that you use.
Tretinoin comes in several strengths, including 0.025%, 0.5%, and 0.1% tretinoin. In most cases, stronger tretinoin creams, gels, and other products are priced slightly higher than lower-strength products.
It’s worth noting that the price difference between mild and strong tretinoin isn’t that much — on average, you should expect to pay approximately 40 percent to 50 percent more for a 20g tube of 0.1% tretinoin than you would for an equal-size tube of 0.025% tretinoin.
The second factor that affects tretinoin’s price is where you buy it from. Pricing for tretinoin and other generic drugs can vary from one pharmacy chain to the next, and coupons, loyalty clubs, and promotions can affect pricing further.
The third factor is how much tretinoin you purchase at once. Some pharmacies offer discounts for bulk medication purchases.
You may be able to save money by buying several large tubes of tretinoin at once, rather than by buying smaller 20g tubes individually.
Purchasing generic medication in bulk not only saves you money — it can also save time by eliminating the need to visit your local pharmacy frequently to refill your prescription.
While the exact price of medications varies greatly depending on what we mentioned above, on average, you can expect to pay the following prices for generic tretinoin cream:
0.025% tretinoin: $25 to $100 per 20g tube, or $50 to $200 per 45g tube
0.05% tretinoin: $30 to $120 per 20g tube, or $60 to $220 per 45g tube
0.1% tretinoin: $35 to $130 per 20g tube, or $65 to $255 per 45g tube
You can expect to pay the following prices for generic tretinoin gel:
0.01% tretinoin: $25 to $80 per 15g tube, or $50 to $200 per 45g tube
0.025% tretinoin: $25 to $80 per 15g tube, or $50 to $210 per 45g tube
0.05% tretinoin: $75 to $400+ per 45g tube
The prices listed above are average prices for generic tretinoin. Brand name skincare products that contain tretinoin may have higher or lower retail pricing.
If you’re prescribed several medications to treat acne, it’s important to keep in mind the full cost of purchasing your medication.
Some acne products, such as Apostrophe Customized Acne Cream, contain tretinoin with other science-backed, prescription ingredients, allowing you to use one product to treat acne instead of several.
As we’ve covered in our guide to using tretinoin cream, you should apply a pea-sized amount of tretinoin to your face on a daily basis.
If you use tretinoin daily as directed, a single 20g tube of tretinoin cream should last for between two and three months, resulting in an approximate cost of about $15 to $25 per month.
Some Medicaid and health insurance plans may offer coverage for tretinoin. Make sure to check with your healthcare provider for full pricing and coverage information before purchasing tretinoin or any other medication.
Some drug manufacturers may offer patient assistance programs that allow you to save money on tretinoin and other medications. You can learn more about these programs by contacting the manufacturer directly.
Tretinoin is a common, widely-used medication that’s available from all major pharmacies. You can purchase tretinoin from the following pharmacy chains:
Most local pharmacies will also stock tretinoin cream and gel, as well as other medications for treating and preventing acne.
If you’re not sure whether your local pharmacy has tretinoin, try calling to check its availability before you visit.
Because tretinoin is a prescription medication, you’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider or a dermatologist and receive a prescription before you can purchase it from a pharmacy.
Another option is to buy tretinoin online. Your Apostrophe Anti-Aging Cream could contain tretinoin, along with other science-backed ingredients to treat acne breakouts and prevent the effects of aging on your skin.
Apostrophe topical treatments are available following an online consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Tretinoin is one of the most effective medications available for the treatment of acne. It’s also an affordable one, with a one-month supply of generic tretinoin cream typically available for around $15 to $25 per month when purchased in bulk.
You can save money on tretinoin by making use of offers for a discount price, or by purchasing your skincare treatments online.
Interested in using tretinoin but don’t know where to start? Our Tretinoin 101 guide explains how tretinoin works, how you can use it for acne and anti-aging purchases, common side effects and much more.
Yoham, A.L. & Casadesus, D. (2020, December 5). Tretinoin. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557478/
Tretinoin Topical. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682437.html
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