Tretinoin is a prescription skincare ingredient that’s effective at fighting acne and signs of aging. Unfortunately, it’s not available over the counter.
Luckily, direct-to-consumer brands like Hers and Curology have made prescription-strength retinoids more accessible to the masses. They offer a virtual consultation and a tailored prescription after purchase.
What is Tretinoin?
Known as Retin-A by many people, tretinoin is one of the most effective acne treatments. It can also improve the appearance of fine lines and dark spots from sun damage. However, it can take a while to start seeing results and requires proper usage.
A topical form of vitamin A, tretinoin is the gold standard ingredient dermatologists turn to when they need to treat acne and signs of aging (like fine lines and discoloration). It works by increasing epidermal turnover, speeding up the body’s natural process for creating new skin cells.
It’s important to use tretinoin as directed by your doctor. Be sure to wash your hands before and after applying tretinoin, and don’t apply it to cut or scraped skin. You should also wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoid tanning beds when using tretinoin, as it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. It may be unsafe to use during pregnancy, so talk to your doctor before you decide to try it.
How to Use Tretinoin Safely
While tretinoin can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it’s important to follow usage guidelines to minimize early temporary side effects like dry skin or peeling.
Always apply tretinoin to clean, dry skin, ideally at bedtime, after cleansing with a gentle non-soap cleanser and patting the face dry (do not use a loofah or scrub). If you have sensitive skin, start by applying it 2-3 nights a week and gradually increase the frequency.
Tretinoin makes the skin more sensitive and can make it prone to sunburn, so use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. The sun also decreases the effectiveness of tretinoin, so it’s important to use it regularly.
Avoid combining tretinoin with other skincare products that can cause drying or peeling, such as alcohol, spices, lime, resorcinol, and astringents. You should also not use it during pregnancy, as retinoids are known to cause birth defects in unborn babies.
Where to Buy Tretinoin Cream
Tretinoin is one of the most well-researched and time-tested skincare products dermatologists and estheticians love for both anti-aging and acne treatment. However, it’s a prescription drug, so you can’t buy it just anywhere.
One way to get a prescription is to visit your family doctor or dermatologist. They can assess your skin, write a prescription for you, and recommend other treatments that work in tandem with tretinoin.
Another option is to use a telemedicine service like Felix, which connects you with a healthcare practitioner through an online appointment. They can discuss your skin and prescribe a topical cream that contains the highest possible concentration of tretinoin for your specific skin type.
Many skincare brands also contain tretinoin, including Retino-A and A-ret gel. These products may be cheaper than tretinoin, but you won’t get the same results. Tretinoin can cause a lot of irritation when first using it, so it’s best to start with a lower dose and build up gradually.
Where to Buy Tretinoin Online
Buying tretinoin online is more convenient than going to a dermatologist. It’s also often cheaper since online retailers don’t have the same overhead costs as traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
You can buy tretinoin cream online from various reputable sites such as Skinorac. You can even buy it from a direct-to-consumer brand such as Differin gel ($13). However, it’s best to have a dermatologist prescribe the exact strength of tretinoin you need before ordering from a skincare brand.
The cost of tretinoin varies depending on the brand and strength. You can use a tool like GoodRx to find the lowest price for your prescription.
Another option for getting a tretinoin prescription is to go through a service such as Curology. This site provides personalized skincare products and acne treatments that are curated by a board-certified dermatologist. You can buy a custom tretinoin formula through their website and have it delivered right to your door. The price is comparable to that of buying it from a dermatologist, but the convenience factor is worth it for some people. Tretinoin Buy