Tretinoin works to improve your skin by speeding up new cell growth, removing dead cells, and reversing some of the sun damage to your skin. It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Wash your face 2 or 3 times a day with a mild, non-medicated soap and gently pat (don’t rub) dry. Avoid harsh soaps, shampoos, hair coloring chemicals, and any other skin products that might irritate your face.
Tretinoin is the gold standard topical treatment for acne, and it’s also effective for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. It works by boosting your skin’s own natural production of collagen and elastin, slowing down the breakdown of collagen, and helping to keep pores unclogged.
It has been used to treat comedonal and inflammatory acne for more than 50 years, and it’s often included in combination products along with antibacterial ingredients. Its comedolytic benefits prevent pores from getting clogged with excess oil, which is the leading cause of acne.
When you first start using tretinoin, it may make your face red or flaky and may seem to worsen your acne at times. This is a normal part of the process called the purging phase, and it usually lasts for about 4-6 weeks as your skin adjusts to the medication.
Avoid harsh scrubs and additional exfoliating products while you’re using tretinoin, and moisturize well. You should also avoid direct sunlight or sunlamps unless your doctor tells you to, as tretinoin can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Melasma is a hyperpigmentation disorder that manifests as symmetrical brown patches on sun exposed areas of the skin. It is a common problem that can be difficult to treat, but it’s important to understand what triggers it in order to prevent it from returning. The most common cause of melasma is sunlight. It’s also more common in women, especially during pregnancy (the “mask of pregnancy” or chloasma). Other causes include the use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy.
Tretinoin is an excellent choice for treating melasma because it reduces the amount of melanin produced by your skin cells. It also accelerates the turnover of skin cells, causing new cells to replace old ones more quickly. This helps to fade the dark spots caused by melasma and reduce their size. It can be combined with other treatments, such as laser and light therapy, to improve results. TRI-LUMA cream (fluocinolone acetonide 0.01%, hydroquinone 4% and tretinoin 0.05%) is an effective short-term treatment for moderate to severe melasma in combination with measures for sun avoidance.
Fine lines and wrinkles
In addition to improving acne and melasma, tretinoin reduces fine lines and wrinkles by increasing skin cell turnover. However, it takes a long time before these benefits are evident–indeed, most patients notice results after about 16 weeks of regular use (Leyden, 2017). Tretinoids also stimulate collagen and blood vessel growth, improving skin color. They make the skin sensitive to sunlight, so it’s essential to wear sunscreen every day.
Sun damage, repetitive facial muscle movement (like smiling and frowning) and aging all contribute to intrinsic aging of the skin, which can result in fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin can help slow down this process, brighten the complexion, even out skin tone and improve elasticity and firmness. It can also be used with other skincare products that are compatible with it, such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. However, it’s important to start slowly to let the skin acclimate and always follow an effective sun protection routine. If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant, don’t use tretinoin.
In addition to clearing acne, retinoids also treat the signs of sun damage. Using topical tretinoin over time can improve the appearance of fine lines, dark spots or rough skin caused by too much sun exposure (Zasada, 2019).
Studies have shown that tretinoin slows down and even reverses sun damage to the skin by increasing collagen production, which helps your skin cells replace damaged tissue faster. It also increases hydration, brightens the complexion and fades discoloration such as freckles or dark spots.
Using tretinoin over long periods of time can leave your skin sensitive to sunlight, so you should avoid excessive sun exposure and always use a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Additionally, you should apply a rich moisturizer frequently to prevent dryness or irritation. Also, avoid washing the treated area with soap or harsh scrubs. Wash the skin gently with warm water and pat it dry.