Is Retinoin For You?

There’s been a lot of hype about tretinoin since the skincare ingredient went viral on TikTok and Instagram. But London-based aesthetician Alicia Lartey warns that anyone considering adding it to their routine should be careful, because it’s only available on prescription from a doctor or dermatologist.

A form of vitamin A, tretinoin is a powerful exfoliant which helps to speed up the skin’s natural turnover cycle, reducing signs of ageing and reversing sun damage. It’s also known to improve the appearance of acne and hyperpigmentation, and reduce the depth of scars. However, it’s important to note that tretinoin is a powerful drug which can cause a range of side effects including reddening, flaking and dryness, skin peeling, itching, warmth or burning sensations, temporary changes in skin pigmentation, and more. Alicia recommends starting slowly with a low percentage, such as 0.0015%, and working your way up to higher concentrations, such as 0.5%, as your skin gets used to it.

Retinol and retinyl palmitate are over-the-counter forms of retinoid that can be found in serums, face creams or moisturisers, but they need to be converted into tretinoin by the body to have any effect. “Tretinoin is like a fast-forward button for your skin’s cell turnover cycle and stimulates the production of collagen and blood supply too,” says Alicia. “So it’s great for fine lines and wrinkles.”

However, if you want to benefit from tretinoin’s powerful anti-ageing and acne fighting benefits, you need a prescription from a dermatologist or doctor. It’s best to see a specialist, as they will be able to create a tailored treatment plan for you and will advise on the right strength and frequency of the product for your specific needs. Your specialist will also advise you on how to use it and how long you should expect to wait before noticing a difference. They will also ask you about any medications that you are currently taking, as it’s important to know whether they can interact with tretinoin or could cause an adverse reaction.

If you’re interested in tretinoin, it’s worth looking into online dermatologist services such as Get Harley, Dermatica and Skin + Me. These companies allow you to book a virtual consultation with an experienced dermatologist who will prescribe a suitable level of tretinoin cream for you. Depending on your specific requirements, they may be able to prescribe the strongest option which is 0.1% tretinoin.

When you do start using tretinoin, be sure to follow the personalised advice from your dermatologist, as this will help to minimise the risk of any unwanted side effects. Ensure that you avoid direct contact with your eyes and lips, and don’t apply it to any open wounds or windburned skin. It’s also important not to use it if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or using any other topical treatments that can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication. Finally, you should always use sunscreen when using tretinoin, as it can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. tretinoin uk

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