Does Tretinoin Lighten Skin? How to Fade Scars and Age Spots
Tretinoin is brought up so often when it comes to skincare, that it almost seems like there is nothing it can’t do.
Tretinoin is a dermatologist’s go-to for fine lines, acne scars, acne, and hyperpigmentation from inflammatory blemishes.
But, does it lighten the skin? This is kind of a complicated answer.
below, we will cover just how Tretinoin works, what it does for the skin when used, and just what kinds of things it may help lighten.
What does Tretinoin do for your skin?
The main function of Tretinoin is its ability to ramp up the skin cell turnover rate.
This means that older skin cells which have had sun exposure, wear and tear, and overall general damage, are being replaced by brand new skin cells much faster than usual.
Because of this increased cell turnover, a lot of skin issues that accumulate over time, like fine lines, or marks left over from damaged skin, like acne scars, can be lessened from a fresh layer of new skin cells.
So, what can Tretinoin lighten?
Tretinoin increases the turnover rate of skin cells, so, when this happens any pigmentation that accumulated in the older skin cells from sun exposure, or excess melanin production may start clearing with those old cells.
But, Tretinoin will likely not lighten your skin’s natural tone, since your natural amount of melanin (skin pigment) in your brand new skin cells will remain intact with this turnover.
This makes Tretinoin different from skin lightening or bleaching agents like Hydroquinone in this way, since it is not a bleaching agent that will lighten skin past its normal tone.
However, if you have spots or patches of unnatural skin pigmentation from UV light or damage, Tretinoin may be able to help you out with a return to your natural skin tone and help even things out.
How to use Tretinoin to fade scars, hyperpigmentation, and age spots
Tretinoin is often prescribed by doctors to help fade scars, age spots, melasma, or hyperpigmentation leftover from inflammatory acne.
You should follow the instructions from your doctor on your product when using Tretinoin for the best results.
Usually, a pea-sized amount of Tretinoin is applied once daily before bed to clean, dry skin.
Depending on what you are treating, and it’s location, you may be applying Tretinoin all over the face (avoiding the mouth and eyes), or spot treating the skin abnormalities by just applying a little bit to the problem areas.
After Tretinoin application, allow the medication to absorb into the skin for 20 minutes before following with other cosmetics of skincare products like moisturizers.
You should avoid excess sunlight and wear sunscreen over the treatment areas while you are using Tretinoin, as your sun may be more sensitized to UV light and more prone to burning during treatment.
UV light also tends to make already hyperpigmented areas like scars and age spots more prominent, so sunscreen should always be worn to reduce the appearance of these abnormalities.
Tretinoin is not a skin lightening or skin bleaching agent, and will not lighten your skin past its normal tone.
However, Tretinoin does help increase the turnover of old skin cells to be replaced with fresh new skin cells with your skin’s natural pigment.
This replacement may help brighten the skin tone by removing skin cells that have been tanned by the sun, accumulated age spots, or are hyperpigmented from melasma, scars, or inflammatory acne.
Tretinoin may help even out the skin tone, brighten the complexion, and reduce the appearance of marks, scars, and age spots.