how to use tretinoin

How To Use Tretinoin? This Is What I Prefer

Tretinoin is a type of medication that is used to treat sun-damaged and acne on the skin. Tretinoin helps improve dark spots on your skin and the appearance of wrinkles on the surface of your skin. It also helps improve fine lines.

Tretinoin is known as retinoic acid, which is a generic name for synthetic vitamin A. This medication is sold under different brand names, like Retin-A. Do not confuse Retin-A with retinol.  Let’s learn more about Retinoic acid, why doctors might prescribe it, and how to use Tretinoin.

What Is Tretinoin?  

What Is Tretinoin

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Doctors usually prescribe Tretinoin in gel or cream form that helps treat fine wrinkles, acne, and sun-damaged skin. However, it might sound counterintuitive, Retinoic acid works by aggravating the skin.

It helps speed up the skin cells’ life cycle by dividing the cells faster, killing them more quickly. As cells die more quickly, healthier cells form that can replace old dead skin cells making the skin better.

Tretinoin or retinoic acid can be sold by various names given by different brands like:

  • Avita
  • Atralin
  • Altreno
  • Retin-A
  • Tretin-X
  • Stieva
  • Rejuva
  • Renova
  • Refissa

Retinoic acid can also be found in combination products like Ziana, Solage, Veltin, and Tri-Luma.

How To Use Tretinoin?  

How To Use Tretinoin?

A common question often asked by people who started using Retinoic acid is, “How to use Tretinoin?” Tretinoin can only be used if your doctor prescribes you to use it, as this medication comes with an information leaflet with all the dos and don’t s of it.

How To Apply Tretinoin?

  • Taking a pea-sized amount on your fingers to use it on your whole face
  • You can apply the required amount of tretinoin lotion, cream, or gel on the affected areas and rub it until it gets absorbed in the skin near the affected area.
  • You will also need to use a moisturizer when using Retinoic acid medication.
  • While using the liquid formulation of Retinoic acid, use cotton swabs or fingertips to apply the medication to the affected areas. Try not to wet the cotton swab or gauze pad when applying the drug, as the medicine might run into non-affected regions that do not need treatment.

How Much Tretinoin To Use?

Tretinoin has to be used within proper dosage as ‘less is more’ when using this medication. A person with severe acne problems might need more Tretinoin dosage than someone with less acne.

A pea-sized amount of Retinoic acid is enough for your whole face. Apply the required amount of Retinoic acid in affected areas. More Retinoic acid won’t help better your skin’s acne or sun damage.

What Not To Do When Using Tretinoin?  

Again, Retinoic acid cannot be applied to open wounds, windburns, or sunburns. Retinoic acid can irritate the already irritated skin and cause more damage to the skin.

Retinoic acid cannot be used around the eyes, lips, and interior of your nose. Apply the medication away from these areas and wash it immediately if it gets in any of these areas.

Retinoic acid should not be applied on wet skin. So wash your face gently with a mild face wash or soap for 20-30 minutes before using this medication. Do not scrub your face before applying this medication; only apply it when your skin is fully dry.

Applying Retinoic acid on wet skin can irritate your skin. Avoid washing your skin within an hour of using the medication on affected areas.

Avoid using topical medicine in the affected area where you had applied within an hour, as Retinoic acid won’t work properly in the affected area and irritates the affected area. Products you should avoid when using Retinoic acid to treat affected areas unless your doctor says otherwise.

  • Avoid using products containing ingredients like peeling agents like salicylic acid or sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, etc.
  • Skin products with citric acid.
  • Products containing alcohol, like after-shave lotions, shaving creams, or astringents.
  • Skin products that are too abrasive or drying, like cosmetics or skin cleansers, or soaps.

How Long Does Tretinoin Take To Work?  

How Long Does Tretinoin Take To Work? 

Another question often arises when people use Retinoic acid is, “How long does tretinoin take to work?” This question can only be partially answered as several skin types have different problems.

Again other skin effects are different when using Retinoic acid. Usually, your skin will become irritated while using Retinoic acid for the first three weeks; acne might worsen before it can improve as the skin gets irritated when using Retinoic acid during the initial days.

It might take more than twelve weeks to see real results when treating severe acne, even after using the medication daily.

But if your skin does not show any improvement within the eight weeks to 12 weeks period and becomes more irritated, consult your dermatologist immediately.

How Often To Use Tretinoin?  

One thing you should remember on how to use Tretinoin is that a doctor prescribes Tretinoin doses, so you can’t use it however you want. For a person aged 50 years or below, applying Retinoic acid once a day in affected areas of skin in required doses can go a long way. You don’t need to apply repeatedly and in large quantities to treat the affected areas quickly, as Retinoic acid doesn’t work that way.

You don’t need to apply repeatedly and in large quantities to treat the affected areas quickly, as Tretinoin doesn’t work that way.

How To Use Tretinoin Cream With Moisturizer?  

How To Use Tretinoin Cream With Moisturizer

Suppose you are thinking about how to use tretinoin cream with moisturizer; moisturizers have water-based formulations. Moisturizers help with the irritation when using Retinoic acid for treatment initially. But you can also use moisturizers after 20 minutes post Retinoic acid application as your skin slowly adapts to Retinoic acid.

Moisturize your skin before bed when using this medication for skin treatment.

How To Use Tretinoin Cream For Wrinkles?  

How To Use Tretinoin Cream For Wrinkles? 

If you want to know ‘How To Use Tretinoin Cream For Wrinkles,’ then you have to follow the same steps as before by applying the required amount of Retinoic acid in the areas where surface wrinkles are prominent.


This article provided all the information you need to know when using Retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is very effective in acne and sun-damage treatment, as it has shown results for most people. But there will always be exceptions where even Retinoic acid does not work. So, stop using the product if your skin doesn’t show any positive results within 12 weeks. Instead, consult your dermatologist for other treatments for your skin problem.

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