Tretinoin – A How to Guide

Tretinoin A How To Guide

Tretinoin is a synthetic version of Vitamin A, and is stronger than retinol [1]. Tretinoin is not an over the counter drug, rather it is available through a prescription [2]. It is commonly used to treat acne and skin that has been damaged by the sun. Experts believe it can assist with erasing deep wrinkles, tretinoin is only able to help improve surface wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots.


How to Use Tretinoin

As Tretinoin is a form of medication that is prescribed by your doctor, it is important to use the medication as directed. Tretinioin is available in several strengths, from 0.025% to 0.1%. The strength prescribed depends on a variety of aspects of your skin; however, if you are just starting out with prescription Tretinoin, we recommend using 0.025%. We will discuss further on how to use it later on in the post. It is important to use the patient information leaflet that is provided with the prescription for exact instructions on how to use it.

It is also important to note that when using Tretinoin, no other actives should be used on the nights when it is applied. For instance, it is recommended to stay away from other forms of acne treatments that can contain: salicylic acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide as they may irritate the skin whilst using the tretinoin treatment. We recommend reviewing our latest blog post Tik-Tok’s Latest Trend: Skin Cycling – Is It For You? to learn more on how to cycle in Tretinoin when first starting out to protect the skin.

How To Use Tretinoin

When applying the Tretinoin, it will need to be applied on freshly cleansed skin. To ensure all impurities and makeup have been removed from the skin, we recommend going in with an oil cleanser, such as The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser or the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. After cleansing with an oil, it is best to go in with a second cleanser to ensure all makeup and dirt has been removed from the skin. We recommend using First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Cleanser, as it produces a great lather and will ensure to cleanse the skin thoroughly. After cleansing, pat dry and apply the required amount of Tretinoin to the skin.

As Tretinoin can be harsh and can cause skin irritation and dryness, once the product has fully absorbed, go in with a moisturizer to lock in hydration. We recommend going in with the Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Deep Hydration Moisturizer, which  is a great thick moisturizer to seal the hydration in for dry to normal skin types, or you can go in with the Drunk Elephant Protini™ Polypeptide Firming Moisturizer, which is great for normal to oily skin types and has a lighter feel, while still ensuring hydration for the skin. For an extra boost of hydration and to ensure you are protecting the skin barrier, you can also add in an oil to mix in or apply on top of the moisturizer. The Biossance 100% Sugarcane Squalane Oil, Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury  Face Oil, and Summer Friday Heavenly Sixteen All-In-One Face Oil are great options to add.

When using the Tretinoin, you must also protect your skin from sun exposure as it can cause skin sensitivity. So, ensure you are going in with a SPF the next morning and reapplying the sunscreen throughout the day. Supergoop! has great options for sunscreen, such as the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++ for individuals who may experience more oily skin. The Supergoop! Glowscreen SPF 40 PA+++ is great for those who have drier skin types. When reapplying, you can go in with the same sunscreen using in the morning, or for convenience, use a stick sunscreen such as the Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF50+.

With any new skincare, it is important to do a patch test to see your skin’s reaction before implementing it into your routine. Tretinoin is a great step to add into your routine, especially when dealing with problematic skin, but it is also important that it is being used correctly to achieve the greatest result. 

[1] Healthline “What Are the Benefits and Side Effects of Using Tretinoin?.”

[2] Ibid.


The information found on Spa 6ix is not intended to be used as medical advice to treat any medical condition in yourself or others, including but not limited to the any patients that you are treating. All posts are to be treated as opinions. We highly recommend consulting your dermatologist before trying any new products or creating a routine to address any skin concerns. The reader of this site acknowledges that they are responsible for their own health decisions. All links provided are affiliate links.

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