September 20, 2022

So, What is Tretinoin?

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Retinoids: The New Skincare Craze on TikTok

The new up and coming skincare craze that we have been seeing on TikTok is retinoids.  Specifically, let’s talk about Tretinoin.

Tretinoin is a type of retinol (vitamin A) that can only be obtained through a prescription.  It is a topical treatment that comes in different forms, such as gel, cream, and lotion.  It even comes in different concentrations in order to cater to different skin types.  Tretinoin can come in 0.01%, 0.025%, 0.05, 0.1% concentrations, and more!  

The Benefits of Tretinoin?

It has been proven to be effective in treating wrinkles, dark spots, and acne of any degree.  Tretinoin is so effective because of its nature in allowing skin to lighten and for skin cells to grow at a faster rate.  

It works by stripping away dead or damaged skin cells and stimulating growth of new ones to reveal smoother and healthier skin.  This is especially helpful and effective when used in the early stages of acne, with fine wrinkles and lines, and on particularly “rough” skin surfaces.

What are the risks?

Because Tretinoin is so strong, it is highly recommended to use sparingly.  Dermatologists recommend first time users to use once a day, once a week, and slowly work your way up.  Users should only apply Tretinoin at night, because applying it in the day can make their skin hyper-sensitive to the sun.  Even then, it is imperative that all users are consistent with applying proper SPF, because of the greater sensitivity of the skin.  Failure to incorporate SPF regularly into one’s routine can result in adverse effects, like dark spots and sunburns/sun damage.

How to use Tretinoin?

One has to be not only careful, but patient when using Tretinoin.  The cardinal rule of usage is only using a “pea-sized” amount to cover one’s whole face.  One may feel impatient and unsatisfied, wanting to use a larger amount to coat their face.  However, using more than a pea-sized amount can actually worsen the condition of the skin.  It can result in a damaged skin barrier, peeling, itchiness, redness, etc.  If you have sensitive skin and want to try using Tretinoin, it’s important to have a nourishing moisturizer to use alongside it.  This can mitigate the adverse reactions like redness and peeling.  

What can you expect from using Tretinoin?

Tretinoin can come off as intimidating.  It is a prescription medication, after all.  However, with proper care and attention to instruction, the benefits very much outweigh the potential side effects.  It can take about 4-6 weeks to see results and a purging period is to be expected.  It is definitely a process, but it is so worth it in the end.  Don’t let the purge scare you, it means that the medicine is doing its job!  It is most important to stay consistent with your skincare routine.  Do not introduce any new products besides the Tretinoin, be sure to use SPF everyday, and moisturize!  Tretinoin can be your next step to obtaining healthy, glowing skin.

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

-Written by Kaila An (MPH Candidate USC)

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