The Tretinoin Craze - What You Actually Need To Know

October 10, 2022

If you have been on any form of social media in the past year, you have heard about tretinoin. If you haven't, here's the deal -Tretinoin is a prescription-strength, topical cream that was originally used to treat acne. Today, prescriptions easily be obtained for treating sun damaged skin and fighting fine wrinkles.  

We've seen everyone jump in on the trend from girls using tretinoin as a preventative anti-aging treatment, to women using it to fight sun spots after the fact.

But is this trend for everyone? What are the pros and cons of tretinoin? What type of skin types can use it? We did some research so that you can get all of these questions answered in one place! 

Here's what we'll go over:


What are the pros of tretinoin?

Tretinoin works by stimulating collagen production in the skin. This strengthens it at a structural level! Here are the most note-worthy pros of this type of skin cell turnover:

1. WRINKLES - Tretinoin prevents, reduces, and treats fine line wrinkles. 

2. AGE SPOTS - These types of creams can both prevent age spots and diminish spots that you may already have.

3. ACNE - The original intent of tretinoin was to treat acne by keeping skin pores clean! By stimulating skin cell turnover, pores are constantly being cleaned.

4. TEXTURE - This ties right into #3 above! For the same reasons that tretinoin is used for acne, texture can be greatly improved by using this product. 

5. SMALLER PORES - Because skin cells and pores are constantly being cleared out when using tretinoin, many users reported having smaller pores. 


What are the cons of tretinoin?

Now that we've gone over the many pros of the most popular skin care today, its time to look at a few cons:

1. DEEP WRINKLES - Tretinoin is considered a preventative skin care treatment. While it may clear fine lines and wrinkles, it will not treat established wrinkles or wrinkles caused by muscle movement in the face like "11s" or "glabellar lines."

2. DRYNESS - Since skin cells are being turned over so quickly, many users experience dryness. This can, for the most part, be treated by using heavy moisturizers. 

3. INCREASED SENSITIVITY - Another side effect of high skin cell turnover is increased skin sensitivity to the sun and other products you may be using with it. It is recommended that you look up skin care products before mixing to avoid reactions.

4. PRESCRIPTION-GRADE - Tretinoin cannot be purchased at your local Target or even online skincare retailer without a prescription. Luckily, it is relatively easy to obtain a prescription from online pharmacies such as Nurx, Ro Derm, and Hers.


Who should and shouldn't use tretinoin?

As with any skincare, it's best to use what works best for your unique skin! Here are some common skin types and if tretinoin would be a good choice:

Oily Skin - Yes. Patients with oily skin report having the best experience with tretinoin. Just make sure that you are still moisturizing even with oily skin, as tretinoin has drying qualities.

Dry Skin - Yes. While those with oily skin report less drying while using tretinoin than patients who have dry skin, it is still safe to use with a dry complexion. If this is you, it is recommended to take maximum moisturizing precautions. Some customers with dry skin use a technique called slugging, (or coating their face with vaseline at night) to combat this reaction.

Sensitive Skin - No. If you have sensitive skin, or reactive skin it is not recommended that you use tretinoin. It may cause "retinol burn," pain, or intense flaking on sensitive skin.

Combination Skin - Yes. You can definitely use tretinoin. Just make sure to heavily moisturize dry areas of the skin.

Mature Skin - Yes. Patients with mature skin can absolutely use tretinoin, but may not see as drastic results as younger patients. This is because tretinoin is used to prevent deep lines and age spotting rather than reverse it. However, you may still see benefits in the form of a brighter complexion, smaller pores, and improved texture.


pros and cons of tretinoin

*This article was written by ZoLi staff, not medical professionals. We have done extensive research on the topic and do our best to pass on the most up-to-date and accurate information possible. If you have any questions about your skin care or general health, you should contact your doctor or dermatologist for advice and personalized care. 

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