Affordable, effective and easy to use, tretinoin is one of the most widely used topical retinoids for speeding up skin cell replacement and reducing the signs of aging.
Scientific studies show that daily use of tretinoin cream other 3 to 6 months can make wrinkles and other signs of facial skin aging less obvious.
Our guides to using tretinoin for anti-aging cover these topics in more detail, with a range of interesting studies covering tretinoin’s numerous benefits.
When using Tretinoin cream for anti-aging purposes, it’s important to use it effectively. Tretinoin is a powerful, highly effective retinoid, meaning that you’ll usually only need a small amount to get noticeable, lasting results.
Below, we’ve cover the A to Z of using tretinoin cream for anti-aging, from choosing the right strength to successfully applying tretinoin to your face.
Start By Choosing The Right Strength of Tretinoin Cream
Tretinoin creams and gels come in a variety of concentrations, ranging from .025% tretinoin to significantly stronger (4 times stronger) 0.1% solutions.
Although tretinoin is a safe medication, it can cause some minor side effects when applied to your skin. The most common side effects of tretinoin are dry skin, peeling and irritation, all of which are most common during the first two to six weeks of treatment.
To reduce your risk of experiencing side effects, it’s best to begin topical tretinoin treatment using a low to mid-strength tretinoin cream.
Most doctors prescribe .025% tretinoin cream or gel to first-time users. After a period of time or if the 0.025% is very well tolerated the users can move on to the 0.5%. Only when the user is comfortable with the 0.05% should the step up to the 0.1% gel or cream be made. Many people want to get on to the 0.1% strength as quickly as possible believing that the strongest is the best, this is not correct and in fact the opposite may well true as the side effects of using a 0.1% cream or gel to a first time user will not be manageable and if the user can't manage the side effect skin damage can actually occur .
Finding the right tretinoin cream or gel concentration is a very individual process, meaning it could take several months if not years for you to “dial in” your tretinoin use and work out which cream is ideal for your skin sensitivity,
Tretinoin and Tazarotene are proven over and over again in clinical trials to be the only topical cream to work on the signs of aging.
The number one reason why people give up using Tretionoin or Tazarotene is because they start with 0.1% and can't deal with the side effects.
Apply Tretinoin Cream or Gel at Night
The only time to apply tretinoin cream or gel to your face is at night, shortly before you go to bed. This allows the tretinoin to be fully absorbed, Tretinoin is Vitamin A and is broken down by sunlight.
Applying tretinoin to your face is a quick, simple process that you’ll quickly get used to. In total, there are only six steps to memorize:
1) Wash your face using warm water and, if required, a small to moderate amount of mild soap. Make sure that your face is completely clean, as this will boost absorption of the tretinoin and improve your results.
2) After washing, gently dry your face using a towel. Gently blot your face to dry the skin without causing irritation.
3) Squeeze a pea-sized amount of tretinoin cream or gel from the tube and gently rub the solution into your face. Focus on the cheeks, forehead, chin and other areas with acne or visible signs of skin aging.
4) Be careful not to apply the cream to your eyes, lips or other sensitive areas. You can also apply the tretinoin using a cotton swab or gauze.
5) Rub the tretinoin gently into your facial skin. Apply the cream or gel evenly to all parts of your face for even absorption. One pea-sized amount of tretinoin should be enough for your entire face.
6) It can take one to two minutes for the tretinoin cream or gel to begin to absorb into your skin, at which point it should no longer be visible.
Set a timer for 20 minutes and avoid touching your skin or applying any other skincare products until the tretinoin has been fully absorbed.
If you have dry, flaky or peeling skin, you can apply an alcohol-free moisturizer after 20 minutes to one hour has passed. Moisturizer can be useful in preventing the flaking and peeling side effects that some people experience from tretinoin.
Dealing With Tretinoin Side Effects
Side effects from tretinoin if used correctly are fairly uncommon but can happen, particularly during the first two to six weeks of use. Many tretinoin users experience a “purge” in the first weeks of treatment as their skin adjusts to the medication.
During this period, there are several steps that you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing tretinoin side effects:
Avoid spending time in the sun. Tretinoin makes your skin significantly more sensitive to light, particularly in the first weeks of treatment. While 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to the sun per day is fine, it’s best to avoid longer periods of exposure to direct sunlight.
If you can’t avoid sun exposure, make sure to use an alcohol-free SPF 30+ sunscreen to minimize your risk of sunburn.
If you experience dry skin, moisturize. It’s perfectly safe to use a moisturizer at the same time as tretinoin, although you should avoid using moisturizers that contain any alcohols or ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, which can worsen dry skin.
Try an alternative tretinoin dosage. Many tretinoin users experience side effects such as dry skin and irritation that decrease or disappear at a lower concentration.
Avoid using an excessive amount of tretinoin cream. Most people will only need to use a pea-sized amount of tretinoin to cover their entire face. Using too much tretinoin cream increases your risk of experiencing side effects without offering extra benefits.
Tretinoin cream is designed for use once per day, in the evening. Do not use tretinoin more frequently than prescribed, as this will not provide faster or better results.
Avoid laser, chemical or waxing treatments while using tretinoin. Many of these treatments can affect your skin and increase your risk of experiencing side effects. It’s best to consult your doctor before considering any additional skin treatments.
If you experience side effects, don’t panic. Minor skin irritation, peeling and redness are common during the first few weeks of tretinoin usage, meaning there’s no need to panic if you notice that your skin gets worse before it gets better.
If you experience persistent or severe side effects from topical tretinoin, speak to your doctor. Most tretinoin side effects are temporary and easy to treat, letting you enjoy the benefits of tretinoin without any negative effects on your appearance of quality of life.