Tretinoin (Vitamin A) Guide
What is it?Tretinoin (retinoid acid) is a prescription retinoid. This is the active form of vitamin A. It requires no conversions within the skin to become active. It works quickly but can be aggressive. There are pros and cons to using pure prescription retinoic acid. On the one hand because it is particularly potent, it is an excellent anti ageing and acne treatment. However, on the other hand, you will also get more retinoid reactions or side effects with this form.
Who is it for?
It is recommended for anti-ageing, reducing fine lines, strengthening the skin and oil control.
Who is it not for?
Anyone pregnant/breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant. It is very important to stop your retinoid if you fall into this category as it may cause birth defects.
Key usage tips:Use at night only. Vitamin A makes your skin more sun sensitive so never use during the daytime. UV radiation also breaks most retinoids down so you also wouldn’t get the positive benefits if you were using them during the day.
As retinoids can make your skin more sun sensitive, it is vital to wear sunscreen during the day when you are using a retinoid (at night)
Avoid the eye area or use a product designed specifically for this area.
Start slow. Apply a pea-sized amount every third night and build up to using it 4-5 nights per week. Rarely do we require patients to use retinol more than this. Our recommended step up protocol is:
- 2 nights/week for 2 weeks
- 3 nights/week for 3 weeks
- 4 nights/week
Listen to your skin and take it slow. You will still get many great skin benefits using your retinoids twice per week. Patience is key, so don’t expect to see results overnight this is a long-term project for skin health, so allow skin to adapt over a sensible period of time.
THIS IS A LONG - TERM PROJECT FOR SKIN HEALTH, SO ALLOW SKIN TO ADAPT OVER A SENSIBLE PERIOD OF TIME!
What to do if you are particularly sensitive? (sandwich technique)
Half sandwich: If you are particularly sensitive, you can layer moisturiser on top of your retinoid at night. Wait at least 10 minutes before applying moisturiser over your retinoid.
Full sandwich: If you are very sensitive, you can layer moisturiser/ hydrating serum under your retinoid and layer a moisturiser on top of your retinoid. Wait at least 10 minutes between each layer.
What to expect:You can expect your skin to be sensitive initially. this can last many weeks for some people and some people never manage to use tretinoin effectively. You can expect:
- If you suffer with pigment this may appear worse initially as the retinol brings the deeper pigment to the surface for shedding
- Acne may worsen initially as your skin purges
Can I have treatments when using tretinoin?Yes but you must stop your tretinoin at last 7 days before any skin treatment including but not limited to: laser, facials, peels, dermabrasion, threading, waxing.
IF you are having treatments outside ORA, please inform your therapist in advance that you use a prescription retinoid. They may want you to stop your tretinoin for longer than listed above. Please follow the directions of the therapist/clinic treating you.