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In this article, we will explore the different strengths of tretinoin, what they are used for, so you and your online dermatologist can choose the right strength for your skin problem.
Tretinoin strengths and brand names
Tretinoin comes in different strengths depending on the brand and each product has its advantages. Take into consideration that in some cases, higher strength is not necessarily better because higher strengths will cause more skin irritation. The choice between the strength and formulation often depends on individual skin types and preferences. However, regardless of its strength, all tretinoin products need a prescription from a doctor.
What are the different tretinoin doses (strengths) available?
Tretinoin creams come in the following strengths: 0.01%, 0.02%, 0.025% 0.05% 0.08% and 0.1% depending on the pharmaceutical companies that produce them. Not all brands come in all the different strengths.
What is the strongest dose (strength) of tretinoin?
The strongest dose (concentration) of tretinoin is 0.1% which is sold as a cream under the brand name of Retin-A and is sold as a gel under the brand name Retin-A micro.
What is the lowest dose (strength) of tretinoin?
The lowest dose (concentration) of tretinoin is .01% also sold under the brand name Retin-A and it comes as a cream and a gel.
Request a tretinoin prescription
How to get a tretinoin prescription?
You can request a tretinoin prescription by having a photo-based consultation with an online dermatologist. This only costs $59 and you will get an answer together with your prescription (if medically adequate for you) in 1-2 days.
How to start using tretinoin to minimize skin irritation?
According to Dr. Chacon, since tretinoin can cause skin irritation, she recommends you take a few steps to reduce this:
- Start with a low strength of tretinoin (0.01% or 0.025%) and gradually increase, if necessary. Do this under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
- Use a tiny amount (about the size of a pea) and apply scarcely.
- Make sure your skin is completely dry before applying tretinoin, as applying it on freshly washed skin can increase the risk of skin irritation.
- Apply twice per week, then every other night, and then nightly to allow your skin to adjust to the medication.
- Apply a moisturizer before and after applying tretinoin to help soothe and hydrate the skin. Wait at least 20 minutes between applications.
- Use a sunscreen with SPF 50 every morning, even when it is cloudy to avoid sunburn.
- Do not combine tretinoin with other retinoids (retinol, tazarotene, trifarotene, or adapalene or trifarotene).
- Avoid using other potentially irritating skin care ingredients such as salicylic or glycolic acids, benzoyl peroxide.
- If you experience skin irritation, redness, or peeling while using tretinoin, suspend the application until the symptoms disappear and talk to your healthcare provider to reduce the doses or switch to a different medication more suitable to sensitive skin such as adapalene.
How and when to increase tretinoin strength?
According to Dr. Chacon, you should start with a tretinoin product that has low strength such as 0.01% and up to 0.025% and when your skin tolerates daily application, you can increase the strength. Please take into consideration that this may not be necessary and that your skin may not tolerate a higher tretinoin strength, so you may need to remain with a low concentration.
What tretinoin strength is best for wrinkles and anti-aging?
“Tretinoin is widely used for anti-aging because it increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen production, which can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots,” says Dr. Chacon.
“The strength of tretinoin prescribed for anti-aging will depend on multiple factors. However, in general, a low to moderate strength of tretinoin (0.025% to 0.05%) is often recommended for anti-aging purposes, because it tends to be effective while minimizing the risk of irritation,” she added.
What tretinoin strength is best for acne?
“Your healthcare provider will decide what strength of tretinoin is best for your acne and it will vary depending on the severity of the acne, as well as other factors such as skin type and sensitivity. In general a lower tretinoin strength (0.025%) may be used for mild to moderate acne, while higher strengths (0.05% or 0.1%) may be used for more severe or stubborn acne,” says Dr. Anna Chacon, dermatologist.
“However, it is important to consider that tretinoin can cause skin irritation especially when you first start your treatment. Therefore, it is best to start with a lower strength and slowly increase, if necessary. Remember to avoid using other anti-acne products, while using tretinoin, unless indicated by your doctor,” she added.
Request a tretinoin prescription
What is Tretinoin?
Tretinoin (also known as retinoic acid) increases cell turnover, promotes the growth of new skin cells, and boosts collagen production, resulting in smoother, clearer, and brighter skin3.
Tretinoin is more potent than retinol, since retinoic acid acts directly on the skin, boosting cell turnover and renewal4. While both tretinoin and retinol offer remarkable benefits for skin health, understanding the differences between them is crucial. For a detailed comparison, you can explore our article on Tretinoin vs retinol to make an informed choice about which skincare product suits your needs best.
Research shows that tretinoin is very efficient in the treatment of photoaging (sun damage), smoothens out wrinkles, evens skin tone, and makes the skin look firmer by boosting collagen production5.
Benefits of Tretinoin
- Regulates the flow of sebum in the skin
- Unclogs pores and reduces acne breakouts
- Gives skin a smoother feel
- Reduces pores by getting rid of dead skin cells
- Softens hard skin patches
- Lightens dark spots
- Reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines by promoting cellular turnover6
Side Effects of Tretinoin
There are some minor side effects associated with their use of tretinoin.
- Temporary increase in acne breakouts
- Burning sensation
- Skin irritation
- Dry, flaky, and peeling skin
Request a tretinoin prescription