Select a treatment to
get started

Is It Safe To Use Tretinoin or Retinol Under Your Eyes?

Read on

Wondering if you can use your tretinoin under your eyes? We’ve got you covered. 

Retinol and Tretinoin are among the most recommended and thoroughly studied anti-aging products. Both are retinoids that can help smooth over wrinkles, increase skin cell regeneration, and encourage collagen synthesis. Those of us with signs of skin aging have likely seen fine lines under our eyes or toward the sides of our eyes. This might leave you wondering if you can use these holy grail products under your eyes. 

In this article, we’ll get into how you can safely use tretinoin under your eyes to smooth over wrinkles.

Can you use tretinoin under your eyes?

While tretinoin is a stronger prescription medication versus over-the-counter retinol, both can be used in the pursuit of smoothing over under-eye wrinkles. 

However, if you’re using a product that contains tretinoin or retinol, you should use it very sparingly and carefully around the delicate eye area and double check with your dermatologist or doctor first. 

If you do get the ok and want to try using tretinoin on the under-eye area, it should be done with caution. Patients should keep the medication a fair bit away from the lash line and use the product sparingly. You don’t want tretinoin getting into your eyes. 

In this article, we consider how to use tretinoin under your eyes and consider product strength and application technique. Tretinoin is powerful and the skin underneath your eyes is thin and delicate -- so take notes! 

How you apply tretinoin under the eye is the determining factor of whether you should or not. 

(Later in this post, we detail how to use tretinoin under your eyes if your doctor has given you the go-ahead.) 

Can you use retinol under your eyes?

There are differences between tretinoin and retinol even though they are within the same family. Retinol is a very gentle and less potent vitamin A derivative. When used on the skin, your body needs to convert it into retinoic acid. Tretinoin (or Retin A) is already pure retinoic acid so it’s more potent. 

Eye creams with retinol inside are generally very gentle and have a low concentration of retinol. This is to ensure it doesn’t irritate the skin and is safe to use by the eyes. This is absolutely fine to use under your eyes and over time it might help smooth wrinkles or prevent them.  

How to use tretinoin under your eyes 

As previously mentioned, it’s very important to be careful and thoughtful when using tretinoin under your eyes. 

Here are some things you don’t want to do:

  • Don’t use a lot of product
  • Don’t use tretinoin under your eyes IF your skin isn’t already used to this product. 
  • Don’t put tretinoin too close to your lash line 
  • Don’t put tretinoin on your eyelid
  • Don’t use high-strength tretinoin under your eyes
  • Always get the ok from your doctor first

#1 Acclimate your skin before using tretinoin under your eyes

You will want to train your skin to be used to the product. This means don’t jump right into using it under your eyes. 

Read more: Complete Step-by-Step Skin Routine For Starting Tretinoin 

Get your skin used to tretinoin first. This can take weeks to a few months. Once you’ve gone through the retinization period and your skin is well adjusted, you can start thinking about putting it under your eyes. 

#2 Start slow and very introduce small amounts of tretinoin 

A little goes a long way when it comes to tretinoin. After your skin is acclimated, you can start training your under-eye area. 

You can do this by applying tretinoin to your face as usual and at the very end, tap on whatever is left on your fingers under your eyes and to the sides of your temples. 

This will apply just enough to test the waters. Do this only a few times a week to begin with. 

As your skin tolerates it, increase the frequency of the “leftover tapping” method.

#3 Use the sandwich buffering method

Once you’ve graduated from the “leftover tapping” method, you can move on to the buffering method. This uses a lot more product but you’ll still be taking it easy with a buffer.

Before you put on your tretinoin on your face, put a small layer of moisturizer under and around your eyes. 

Apply your tretinoin as usual, but now start dotting a tiny amount for your under-eye and crows feet area. 

The moisturizer will act as a buffer between your skin and the product. 

This is a great way to get the benefits of tretinoin without harsh side effects. 

#4 Use a moderate to low tretinoin strength 

You won’t want to use a full-strength 0.1% tretinoin under your eyes. But a 0.025% to 0.05% concentration could be used with the techniques we’ve outlined. 

#5 Use a formula with hydrating ingredients 

Tretinoin is drying, and our under-eye skin doesn’t make its own oil. So, using tretinoin under your eyes can be very drying if your formula is lacking hydrating ingredients. This is why combination products are a lifesaver. 

At Strut Heath, our anti-aging formula contains 0.05% tretinoin alongside hyaluronic acid and skin-loving niacinamide. 

Make sure your daily eye cream is packed with hyaluronic acid and ceramides. 

Article Summary

So, should you use tretinoin under your eyes? 

If you get approval form your doctor, acclimate your skin beforehand, use very small amounts and keep the product far away from your lash line - then, yes, you can begin to use tretinoin under and to the sides of your eyes. 

Don’t however, use tretinoin on your eyelid skin or get it too close to your lash line.

Introduce this slowly, use a very small amount of your tretinoin formula, and try a buffering method. 

If your under-eye skin becomes reactive, irritated, or red, stop using the product under your eyes. It can be too harsh for some people. 


Free shipping
Free follow-up care
Cancel anytime, no fees
Free online MD visit

Related posts