Retin-A Overview

Retin-A (tretinoin) is a long-time skincare staple, and as most RealSelf doctors and dermatologists suggest, should be included in a person's everyday routine. Originally prescribed to help fight acne, this topical cream is also an effective wrinkle fighter and helps improve overall skin tone.

Made with vitamin A and part of the retinoid family, Retin-A works by increasing skin cell turnover. You will find it and its generic version in many strengths (.1%, .05%, .025%), and your doctor can help determine which one is right for you. 

Retin-A is often applied at night in very small amounts. It's typically recommended to use only a pea-size amount and spread a light layer on your face. Because retinoids increase sun sensitivity, it is crucial to wear ample sunscreen every day, even in winter or when it's overcast. Most doctors recommend at least SPF 30 sunscreen.

While you are adjusting to Retin-A, you might experience some skin redness, dryness, itching, scaling, or even find that skin conditions worsen during your first few weeks of treatment. Stick with it. Results often take several weeks to appear. You may start by applying the product every other night, or ask your doctor about using a lower dose, to help the adjustment period. 

Dr. Sheila Nazarian discusses the tried-and-true trio of skincare, including Retin-A, and how to best use it.


Explore more:

Read Retin-A reviews

See before and after photos

Read Q&As with doctors

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