Tretinoin (the generic form of Retin-A) is a proven effective treatment for acne, aging skin, scarring, and hyperpigmentation.
While it is very popular, tretinoin is not available over-the-counter. If you’d like to try tretinoin, you’ll have to reach out to a healthcare professional to obtain this prescription product.
While you can get other helpful skincare acids over-the-counter, these products are not classified as medications.
Like with other prescription medications, patient consultation and evaluation are required for safe usage; prescribed dosages and duration of treatment should be overseen by a medical professional.
In the same way, you can buy the anti-inflammatory Advil at the grocery store, you’d have to go to your doctor for prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medications. When it comes to prescription retinoids, these are pharmaceutical-grade treatments.
Retinoid products purchased over-the-counter are cosmetic-grade. The FDA regulates and approves pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, while cosmetic-grade over-the-counter treatments are not evaluated by the FDA.
If you want to dip your toes in the retinoid treatment waters without a prescription, there are a few over-the-counter options. Keep in mind that these treatments are not tretinoin (aka retinoic acid), and do not behave exactly like tretinoin. They are in the same family with varying strengths and effects.
Retinol is a part of the vitamin A family but is considerably weaker than tretinoin. For this product to work, a 2 step oxidative conversion must take place on the skin. This makes retinol very gentle and the effects take much longer (than tretinoin) to become visible.
Learn more:Is Tretinoin The Same As Retinol?
Commonly known as the brand name Differin, adapalene is available in low concentrations over-the-counter. This treatment is great for those treating acne and have very sensitive skin. (Tretinoin is a great acne treatment, but it can be very irritating to some.)
Where to buy, Retinoid, Uses:
OTC: Retinol - Gentle on the skin but requires a conversation process so benefits up to 6-12 months to become visible.
OTC: Adapalene (Differin) - A comedolytic that helps keep pores clear. Slightly less effective at treating acne than tretinoin but comparable.
Prescription: Retinoic acid topical (tretinoin)(Retin A) - Resurfacing anti-aging treatment great for wrinkles, scars, discoloration, and signs of aging. Also treats acne.
Prescription: Oral isotretinoin (Accutane) - Oral treatment for severe acne.
While you can’t buy tretinoin over-the-counter, you can get a tretinoin prescription online. It’s never been easier to try the real thing.
You can consult with a doctor remotely, and if they find you’d benefit from tretinoin, they’ll approve your prescription and some online companies can fill this prescription too.
No, tretinoin is not available over-the-counter, but this is the next best thing.
If you’d like to try a prescription-strength retinoid, simply complete our questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation.
Our doctors will review your input and if you’re a good fit, we can prescribe one of our tretinoin-containing formulas and ship it right to you.
We have expertly formulated tretinoin-containing products designed to improve acne, melasma, signs of aging, and acne scars. If you think you’d benefit from a prescription-strength retinoid, we’re here to help make it as easily accessible and cost-effective as possible.