Tretinoin is one of the best topical treatments for wrinkles, fine lines, sun damage, and acne.
It’s a form of vitamin A that helps to speed up your skin’s shedding process and encourages new skin cell production. With regular use, tretinoin can help to reduce or even eliminate wrinkles and other signs of aging.
But does the effect of tretinoin last forever?
Unfortunately not. The results of tretinoin are temporary and will fade over time if you stop using it.
With all that said, let’s look at what tretinoin is, how it works, and what makes it so efficient against common skin woes.
What is Tretinoin, and What are its Benefits?
Tretinoin, also known as all-trans retinoic acid, is an active form of vitamin A.
It is one of the most studied and research-backed ingredients in skincare products and works incredibly well to fix various skin concerns.
Some of the main benefits of using tretinoin are:
How Does Tretinoin Work?
Tretinoin is a cell-communicating ingredient, which means the active molecule binds to retinoid receptors such as retinoid acid receptors, retinol-binding proteins, and tyrosinase — all of which are involved in the growth and maintenance of skin cells.
Once it binds to those receptors, vitamin A determines the behavior of stem cells, normalizes cell functions, and influences cells to behave in a healthier and “younger” way.
The reason why I say younger is that vitamin A cuts our natural cell turnover in half, from about 30 days it usually takes for the cell to be born, travel through the epidermal layers, die on the skin’s surface, and shed while making space for other cells, to around 14-15 days.
This process will make the skin look youthful, clearer, brighter, and smoother.
Additionally, by speeding up cellular turnover, tretinoin, or vitamin A also helps push the cells stuck inside the pores that have formed comedones (blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed pimples) to the top.
This will essentially result in less acne breakouts and a decrease in the appearance of existing ones.
Are Tretinoin Results Permanent?
Tretinoin results aren’t permanent, and while using it for a longer time will bring more long-term benefits such as a decrease in wrinkles, lines, and sun damage, discontinuing its use will essentially cause the cellular turnover to slow down, and the skin will eventually resume its normal aging process, depending on your lifestyle and skincare habits.
Therefore, if you discontinue tretinoin use, but are still protecting your skin from the sun, have a good supporting skincare routine, and generally live a healthier lifestyle that consists of eating nutritionally balanced meals, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and keeping yourself physically active then you will be able to keep the results for a longer period of time.
On the other hand, if you discontinue use and don’t maintain any of the habits mentioned above, or if you keep exposing your skin to direct sunlight without protection, then you are likely to see your skin start to age faster, and the effects of tretinoin will not last as long.
And while this is definitely the case when it comes to skin aging because this process can’t be stopped, tretinoin can, in some cases, deliver permanent results for those dealing with acne.
For example, if you are a teenager or an adult who has been struggling with acne since earlier age, it is more likely that you will see a permanent clear-skin result if you use tretinoin for a longer time, as long as you keep your skin protected from the sun, keep up with a healthy lifestyle, and maintain an effective skincare routine.
It’s important to note that this can happen for some people but not for others. Similarly how acne seems to disappear on its own for some people and never comes back once they grow out of puberty, while others deal with it well into their adult life.
Therefore, the best way to achieve permanent results with tretinoin is to continue using it. Tretinoin is safe to use long-term, and assuming the treatment is well tolerated, the only reason to discontinue temporarily would be pregnancy.
Are The Side Effects of Tretinoin Permanent?
Tretinoin, although effective, can also cause some side effects, including dryness, redness, peeling, irritation, sensitivity, and purging for those who are dealing with acne.
However, the side effects of tretinoin are not permanent, and any discomfort that might occur when starting tretinoin will go away after a while without permanent damage done to the skin.
When first introducing tretinoin or any retinoid into your skincare routine, your skin will go through a process called retinization.
This means that the skin will go through an adjustment period, and the side effects mentioned above might appear for a short time before fading away.
It is also important to note that the side effects of tretinoin will be more pronounced if you use too much product or use it too often, so make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them step-by-step.
Finally, if you experience severe side effects that don’t seem to go away or you don’t feel like your skin is tolerating the product, you can opt for over-the-counter retinol instead, as these products are formulated to be more gentle, and the skin takes to them easier than it does to tretinoin.
Retinols will still give good anti-acne, anti-aging, and brightening results, but they will also prepare the skin for tretinoin to be introduced later without any significant issues.
Overall, tretinoin is a very effective product that can give fantastic results when used correctly and alongside a good skincare regimen.
Just keep in mind that it will take time for the skin to adjust, and the results will not be permanent without a proper maintenance routine.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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