The What, Why and How of Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a vitamin A compound that can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, melasma and hyperpigmentation. It also increases cell turnover and boosts collagen production, delivering smoother skin with less scarring. But it’s not without its side effects, which includes a ‘purge’ period of inflamed, flaky, red skin that can last for a few weeks post application. As a result, the ingredient is notoriously tricky to use properly and can actually cause more trouble than good if you’re not careful. WH speaks to dermatologist Dr Elif Benar to find out more about the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of this buzzy beauty ingredient.

There are different kinds of retinoids, each used to treat different skin conditions. A common one is all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), which treats severe acne and acute promyelocytic leukemia, among other things. It’s a topical treatment available as a cream, gel or ointment. Other prescription retinoids include isotretinoin, sold as Roaccutane. It’s taken orally, in capsule form, and is a powerful and effective treatment for severe acne. But it’s not appropriate for everyone and comes with some serious warnings, so you should only take it under strict medical supervision.

The other kind of retinoids are the ones that you put on your skin, such as adapalene (Differin), tazarotene and tretinoin. These are prescription retinoids that are licenced for topical use in the UK to treat acne and to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin. They work by encouraging the skin to shed dead cells and grow new ones, which can help to unblock pores and remove blackheads, whiteheads and excess oil. These topical retinoids are not suitable for people with sensitive skin. They can make it irritated and dry, so you should avoid using it with other skincare products that could aggravate your skin (toiletries containing alcohol/menthol, astringents or scrubs) and stay out of the sun.

Both topical retinoids can cause side effects, which can vary from person to person. It’s important to tell your doctor if you have any allergies or other health problems, especially if you have any skin conditions such as rosacea. Also let your doctor know if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, because the treatment isn’t safe for either.

You can buy tretinoin uk online with the right prescription. You’ll need to have a consultation with your GP or pharmacist (or a registered nurse or dermatologist at UK Meds). They’ll assess whether the medication is suitable for you and write out a prescription that you can then buy from a registered online pharmacy, such as UK Meds. The consultation is quick and easy to complete, and you can do it in the comfort of your home if you prefer. You can then have your tretinoin prescription delivered to you in the post or by courier, so you can start treating your skin right away. You can also read our FAQs for more information about how the process works. tretinoin uk

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