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Updated: Apr 17

Tretinoin vs Retinol

In a previous blog post I already went over one of the most incredible products which, if you are even slightly serious about looking into your skins health, should be a part of everyone’s daily routine – Retinol. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and makes our skin younger looking, at a cellular level. When applied to your skin, retinol converts into retinoic acid, which is the form of Vitamin A that actually repairs our skin. It’s increasing our natural production of collagen, which is one of the key elements to plumping up your skin, which in turns makes those lines disappear.

Retinol is an over-the-counter product which you can easily find in a number of your favorite products. In this blog post I wanted to spend some time talking about Tretinoin, which is a prescription grade level product and which you should consult your dermatologist about before using. Both Retinol and Tretinoin are considered Retinoids and are a group of compounds derived from vitamin A. They both promote fast acting exfoliation and increase the production of collagen and elastin all which works towards eliminating fine lines and reducing the impact of acne. But whereas Retinol is a natural form of Vitamin A, Tretinoin is a stronger, synthetic version of vitamin A and as I mentioned before is only available with a prescription.

One of the take-home messages I gave last time about retinol is that when you start using it the first time there could be some slighting reddening of your skin. Its therefore important to find the right balance that works for you which could mean adjusting the percentage of the active retinol ingredient in your product, changing the frequency of how many times you use it per week and including your favorite moisturizer to your routine. After a few weeks your skin will start to better tolerate retinol. Since tretinoin is a more powerful version of retinol, it may not be as well tolerated by people with especially sensitive skin. Remember that tretinoin is able to increase the life cycle of the cells of your skin, which means that new, healthier cells can take the place of the older cells which have died off.

You will see Tretinoin sold under different brand names such as Altreno, Atralin, Avita, Refissa, Rejuva, Renova, Retin-A, Stieva, Tretin-X.

The routine for applying tretinoin is similar to that of retinol. Make sure you have removed all of your make-up and that you wash your face properly and dry it gently. You should always avoid excessive washing and scrubbing which can cause irritation. As someone who was been washing her hands diligently, I know all about the effects of over washing your hands, so please don’t do that to your face.

Once your skin is fully dry, you can start applying tretinoin. Your dermatologist will give an exact step by step process which you should absolutely follow over anything your read here. That being said, the process is pretty standard. You will probably apply it once a day, probably before going to bed. With a small amount squeezed into your fingertips, you will gently apply it to the specific areas of your face you need it to work. This is not a cream to spread all over your face. The medication is meant to be absorbed almost immediately into your skin. And more is not always better. Only apply the amount you have been prescribed. Finally, don’t forget that tretinoin is a for topical use only, make sure you avoid getting any of it into your eyes, moth, nose, or ears.

Like retinol, tretinoin is likely to irritate and redden your skin when you first start using it. So, its completely normal if you notice mild redness, dryness, or even slight peeling and itchiness. What you should not experience is any kind of blistering, swelling. Also, if you realize that the irritation or redness is excessive or persistent, you should stop using tretinoin and consult your dermatologist.

To sum it all up, tretinoin should be considered a safe and effective treatment for acne while at the same time diminishing fine lines and any sun damage. May not see results for several weeks and it does have some side effects. It should provide you with a good option to have healthier and younger looking skin.

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