How long it will take to see real results will depend on what you’re trying to improve.
How long does tretinoin take to start working?
The truth is, results are a little different for everyone.
Patient A is dealing with very fine lines, versus patient B who has deeper wrinkles and photodamage. While both are seeking wrinkle improvement, they have varying severity. Because of this, they’ll require different time investments to see results.
With that in mind, let’s look at some baseline time frames found in tretinoin research.
Acne might get worse before it starts to improve. This “tretinoin purge” process may initially take anywhere between 2 to 6 weeks.
However, some people don’t experience acne worsening at all.
Wrinkle and discoloration treatment results time frame
Studies show that it takes 10 to 16 weeks of treatment to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. However, it might take up to 6 months.
Those who are treating wrinkles and discoloration might also experience a purging acclimation process during the first few weeks.
Other factors to consider
The frequency of use will affect the speed of results
The result time frame will also depend on how long your skin requires to acclimate to this powerful acid. It’s recommended to ease into retinoid use, and take 3-4 weeks to acclimate your skin.
This slow but steady progress will mean it takes longer to see results, but it also means you skipped major peeling, redness, and irritation.
Once you’re acclimated to tretinoin, consistent use is recommended for the best results.
The severity of your skin complaint affects the results
As mentioned before, the severity of your skin complaints can greatly affect how long it will take for tretinoin to work for you.
People with varying levels of acne, for example, will have varying levels of time investments necessary to see improvement.
Product concentration will affect your results
Your results will also depend on the concentration you’re using. It’s common to be prescribed 0.05% and 0.1% tretinoin, however, lower concentrations (0.025%) are available for those with sensitive skin.
If you have severe acne, for instance, and are using a gentle 0.025% concentration, the low-dose tretinoin might affect the speed of your results.
If you’ve been using a certain concentration for a while and your results have slowed, it might be time to increase the strength of your tretinoin prescription. Increasing strength can come with temporarily side effects.
How you use the product can affect the effectiveness
Using oils or moisturizers before tretinoin might reduce its effectiveness. This is a good trick for when you’re trying to acclimate your skin, but it goes to show, some skincare can reduce how well tretinoin works.
It’s NOT recommended to use harsh soaps, other chemically exfoliating acids, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, astringents, or products with alcohol or fragrance while using tretinoin.
Using these products with tretinoin might affect how well tretinoin works for you or increase your irritation levels.
Some people are more sensitive to retinoic acid than others
Some people see much faster results than others because of a genetic sensitivity to retinoids. This very random happenstance might affect your results.