Is Retin-a the Most Effective Wrinkle Cream?

Do anti-wrinkle creams that promise instant smoothing and noticeable reduction in fine lines really work?

Doctor Answers 19

Retin-A cream has proven efficacy

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Retin-A cream falls in the category of retinoids. Retin-A (retinoids, vitamin A derivatives) cream has been used for years by dermatologists for the treatment of acne, photodamage and anti-aging. There is scientific evidence to show that it stimulates underlying collagen, thereby improving overlying fine lines and wrinkles.

There are thousands of other products out there claiming to get rid of wrinkles and lines, and I think they are all bascially the same and do not give results. Retin-A cream has proven efficacy.

The key with Retin-A is learning how to use it correctly so that it doesn’t irritate your skin. You should consult with your dermatologist about getting started with a Retin-A cream.

Boca Raton Dermatologist
4.1 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Retin-A products are good for fighting superficial...

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Retin-A products are good for fighting superficial rhytides, or wrinkles, and are applied topically as prescribed by your physician. The downside is they often cause redness and superficial peeling of the skin, and often take weeks to months to show any changes.

Antioxidant products like Prevage are nice and not as aggressive on the skin as Retin-A creams.

Retin A works

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Absolutely, tretinoin is the generic name and its Vit A companions such as tazarotene have been shown to help smooth fine lines, decrease pigmentation issues and build collagen by turning on the RNA that makes collagen. So the answer to your question is that tretinoin is the best studied to improve the skin, but results are slow so be patient and watch for skin irritation.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist

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Peels and Retin-A Good To Treat Wrinkles

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Retin-A is very effective in fighting wrinkles. Not all patients tolerate it so there are some excellent alternatives. Light Glycolic peels performed monthly are great for long term wrinkle reduction. The daily use of Peptides and Retinols are good, too. Just remember, the sooner you start with any anti-aging regime the better!

Retinoids work for wrinkles

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Retinoids like retin-a, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, etc., have been used for decades and have the most scientific data for their effectiveness against wrinkles through their stimulation of underlying collagen.

They also help give the skin a nice glow and lustre, and gently & slowly help fade some brown discolorations of the skin associated with aging. Other agents are also important & useful, including: vitamin C, glycolic acid, lactic acid, coffeeberry extract, matrixyl, & most importantly sunscreen.

Benjamin Barankin, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

No instant wrinkle cream, pick Retin A or similar instead

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There is no instant fix for wrinkles. Most any facial cream can serve to rehydrate the skin and any hydration will help minimize the appearance of wrinkles.  Just as if you place a raisin in water, it will rehydrate to some degree and be less wrinkly, but not completely and not instantly AND the result is temporary.

To truly make a change in your skin, you need to use a product that takes action on a cellular level.

Retin A and similar Vitamin A creams work by speeding up the exfoliation and renewal process of the skin . In the course of this, old skin cells don't have a chance to block the emergence of newer, plumper skin cells so you'll have smoother, more hydrated skin appearance and feel.

Retin A is indeed the gold standard but not always tolerated well by everyone. There are various other similar "cell expediters" which are formulated for those with more sensitive or intolerant skin types. While they may not be as dramatic in scope as full strength products, they can certainly make very visible improvements.

Rather than paying for high cost creams that are sometimes nothing more than a moisturizer, you would probably be best served by visiting your dermatologist and getting the proper recommendation for your skin type.

Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Topical Retinoids are clinically effective

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The topical retinoids are by far the most clinically effective wrinkles creams available.  They can work long term and results are often immediate after several weeks of use.

The strength of the retinoid plays a major role in the short and long term effectiveness of the retinoid.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Maybe Retin-A is the most effective wrinkle cream

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Retin-A is the cream with which we have the longest history and the most information. It is available as a generic and is therefore less expensive. It works well on mild wrinkles and improves skin tone and pigment.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Retin-A effectiveness

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I cannot answer if it is the "most" effective cream for wrinkles because every cream reacts differently for each individual and results vary. However, Retin A is one of the most effective topical creams for photoaging, i.e. aging as a result of sun damage.

The reason why most dermatologists recommend Retin A is because it has 20 years of good science behind it to show it does actually make a difference whereas so many other creams and potions on the market have no comparable peer reviewed studies to back them up. The science behind Retin A has been validated.

That being said, it works slowly, and has side effects so I would recommend discussing with your dermatologist before starting Retin A.

Steven Hacker, MD
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon

Retin-A (Tretinoin) is THE Most Effective Wrinkle Cream

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Retin-A (tretinoin) is a prescription-only medication that works both in the epidermis and dermis to reverse the aging process in the skin. It stimulates the formation of new collagen, helping to restore thicker, healthier skin. Tretinoin cream decreases pigmentation and exfoliates and compacts the outermost layers of the skin. Tretinoin cream also increases circulation in the skin which causes the “rosy glow” that is associated with its use. No other cream has been as extensively studied or scientifically proven to produce results such as these.


Mitchell Schwartz, MD
South Burlington Dermatologic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

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.