What is Tretinoin?
Tretinoin aka Retin-A, Atralin, Tazorac, and Renova® are a few of the names referring to a prescription retinoid cream created over 30 years ago to treat acne. The doctors noticed that it also gave their patients smoother skin as well as reducing dark spots caused by sun damage. This gave their patients a more youthful look and the cosmetic use ensued.
What is Tretinoin exactly? It is a form of vitamin A that helps the skin with its renewal process. Much stronger than over the counter retinols, prescription strength Tretinoin works on a cellular level to help to increase circulation to the skin causing more nutrients to be delivered. This has several beneficial results such as thickening the dermis which is the layer just below the epidermis of the skin. The dermis is also where collagen is produced so production of that is also stimulated helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Not only does Tretinoin help calm the melanocytes (cells that cause dark spots) in the epidermis, the layer everyone sees, and clear the skin of these dark spots that make people appear so aged, but it helps the epidermis shed the dead skin cells. The shedding of the dead cells slows as we age from every 14 – 21 days to 42 days, giving our skin a dull appearance. Regular use of Tretinoin helps return our skin to that youthful glow.
How do you work it into your nightly routine?
After gently washing and toning your face, take a pea sized amount and dot it on your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, then rub the cream into your skin. Now, as you sleep, the oils on your face naturally pool in the creases of your nose and the corners of your mouth so avoid these areas as it can cause irritation. After this you can apply your moisturizer and other creams. Try this three nights a week and then gradually work up to every night as your skin allows.
There is naturally some peeling and mild irritation, this is your skin shedding the excess dead cells and is normal and will go away in a few weeks. Compare it to a new workout routine. Your muscles will be sore for a few days and then your body gets used to the exercise and you start to feel great. If your skin becomes more than mildly irritated, then use it fewer nights a week always contacting your dermatologist if you are concerned. You may just need a lower dosage strength.
As you shed these unwanted layers, your skin now becomes more sensitive to sunlight. Make sure that during the day you put on a daily broad spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher. If you do get a sunburn, have eczema, or develop a cut or scrape wait until the area has healed before using Tretinoin.