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Tretinoin, most commonly known under the brand name Retin A, is a powerful treatment for both acne and wrinkles. Sticking to the instructions is key, however, and it's prescription-only for very good reasons.

Tretinoin — sold under the brand names Retin A, Avita, and Atralin Renova as well as generically — is a vitamin A derivative that was developed as an adult acne treatment over three decades ago. Now found on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, tretinoin is still very much an exciting buzzword in the world of skincare. That's not just because it can be incredibly effective at treating even very stubborn acne, but also because tretinoin has turned out to be a very promising topical treatment in the battle against aging skin. 

Read skincare blogs all around the web and you'll quickly become convinced that you simply need some tretinoin, that this topical medicine is a miracle in skincare. Indeed, you may be right. Retin A isn't for everyone, however.

What do people who are interested in using Retin A or other forms of tretinoin need to know?

What Can Retin A Do For Your Skin?

Retinoids — that means any form of vitamin-A derived treatment — in general are pretty potent. Since the 1980s, Retin A and similar forms of tretinoin have mostly been prescribed to people with acne. That is because it removes dead skin cells, unclogs pores, and allows sebum to leave the skin rather than building up to form pimples. Usually prescribed to people dealing with mild and moderate acne, even some people with cystic acne, a severe and hard-to-treat form, have reported enormous success with Retin A. 

As Retin A and other forms of tretinoin rose to popularity as an acne treatment, many users started noticing that it did many other things for them as well. Retin A, it turns out, leads to a clearer and smoother complexion, makes skin less oily, fades skin discoloration and, get this, reduces wrinkles. That's because tretinoin, as research found, increases cell turnover and has the power to reverse the effects of photo-aging, the kind of aging caused by too much sun exposure. It also boosts your skin's collagen and elastin, and both those things are essential for young-looking skin.

When you put it like this, Retin A truly does sound like that perfect skincare product that does exactly what, really, everyone is looking for. Who doesn't want clear, radiant-looking, wrinkle-free skin, after all?

By now, you may be sad that Retin A and other tretinoins are prescription-only products. Rather than being able to run out to the shop and start on your miracle all-in-one skincare regime today, you can't get your hands on Retin A unless you see a dermatologist, or in some cases your family doctor, first — and though you have an excellent chance of leaving with a prescription if you're suffering from acne, not all doctors will agree that you need Retin A just because you're showing some signs of aging. Though that sounds unfair, tretinoin requires a prescription for some extremely good reasons. 

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