What is Optimal Percentage of Tretinoin?

I am 23 and I currently do not have any wrinkles, however I have been using Tretinoin for the past year for the prevention of wrinkles as I have read it is best to start early. I started with 0.025% and now I can use 0.05% daily with no adverse side effects (only very minimal peeling). Now that my skin has gotten used to this percentage, should I move up to the 0.1% to further enhance collagen building and prevention of aging? Or should I stay at 0.05%?

Doctor Answers 7

Retin A/Tretinoin strength to prevent wrinkles

The optimal strength of Tretinoin or Retin-A is usually what is best tolerated.  If you can use the 0.05% with minimal to no irritation, you can try the 0.1%, but you will likely ultimately have similar results with either strength in the long run.  If you develop any redness or peeling, you can use a moisturizer before, after, or mixed in with the product. 

Tarrytown Dermatologic Surgeon

OK to move up in strength

Congratulations on being proactive.
It is OK to move up in strength.  You can cut it 50/50 with moisturizers or use the full strength.

Keith Denkler, MD
Marin Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Strength of tretinoin

Most of the time we push levels up to as high as can be tolerated without side effects. However, you are young and I think that 0.05% will serve you well if used over many years . That being said, there is no harm in trying 0.1%. If you do, do not use immediately after washing face.  Make sure to use sunscreen every AM. 

Jo Herzog, MD
Birmingham Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Use of Tretinoin or Retin-A

As you have noted Tretinoin or Retin-A comes in various strengths (0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1%).  Depending on the sensitivity or delicacy of the skin and the depth of the wrinkles to be treated,  the strength of Tretinoin or Retin-A can be adjusted to achieve the maximum benefit with the least amount of side effects (redness, dryness, flaking).  One can also vary how often the Tretinoin is applied from everyday to once every other day or less frequently.  In most cases, I also recommend the use of a moisturizer with sunblock (SPF 30 or higher).  I would recommend using the lowest strength Tretinoin that achieves the desired results with the least amount of side effects. Follow up with your physician to see what regimen works best for you. 

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Tretinoin strength

Tretinoin is a great topical anti-aging treatment. The optimal concentration varies for each patient. Many patients cannot tolerate the 0.1% formulations, but I generally try to work patients up to that level if they are able to tolerate it. Almost everyone gets some peeling, redness, and irritation when starting tretinoin or increasing the concentration. 

A consultation with a board-certified physician specializing in facial aesthetics is always recommended in order to obtain an individualized treatment plan. 

Matthew Richardson, MD
Frisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Retin A for sun damage and wrinkle prevention

The higher the dose the more effective is the Retin A, however the higher the dose the more side effects too, like irritation and dryness.  Whatever increases you make, do it slowly.  Introduce the new dose twice a week, while continuing the old dose the other days, and gradually increase the number of days with the new dose.

Make sure you are using the Retin A at nighttime.  Retin A makes your skin more sun sensitive, and it is also not stable in the sun light, so you are decreasing the benefits and increasing the risk of a sunburn if you use it during the day.

And, most importantly, please use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily.  That is the best protection against sun damage and wrinkles.  Together Retin A and sunscreen are an excellent combination.

Emily Altman, MD
Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Retin-A Treatment to Prevent Wrinkles

There is no dose of Retin-A proven through research studies to be best at preventing wrinkles. However, Retin-A has been shown to be effective in improving fine facial wrinkles as well as treating acne. This medication is a derivative of Vitamin A and comes in three strengths, 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%.  I prescribe Retin-A once nightly using the cream at the highest concentration that does not cause side effects, such as dry or red skin. Use of sunscreen daily and avoidance of smoking will help keep your skin looking the best possible for many years to come.

Temp Patterson, MD
Burley Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.