What it is
Tretinoin, also known as Trans-retinoic Acid, is a derivative of Vitamin A that is available by prescription only.
What it does
Tretinoin is one of the few ingredients that can actually help reduce the signs of aging. Although it is not known how it works exactly, it regulates cell growth and boosts the production of collagen and elastin.
In addition, Tretinoin is an effective acne treatment.
There is also a misconception that Tretinoin is an exfoliant. That’s not true. Exfoliants loosen the “glue” that holds the skin cells together, thus allowing them to slough off. However, skin cells shed normally on their own. Tretinoin simply helps improve this process by increasing the turnover of skin cells.
Tretinoin, like all retinoids, can cause dryness, stinging and irritations. To reduce the risk of experiencing this side effects, when you first buy a product with Tretinoin, apply it on alternate days only until your skin gets used to it. If you’re still getting these symptoms after a few weeks, then you should stop using the product.
In addition, Tretinoin increases the sensitivity of skin to UV light, so if you use it during the day, make sure you apply sunscreen as well.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use Tretinoin at all.
(Sources: J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 , J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 and Photochemistry and Photobiology, February 1999)
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