Tretinoin and Benzoyl Peroxide Together

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If you have a problem with acne breakouts, then you will probably try almost anything available to you. Breakouts are so frustrating, those little dots can have such a big impact, physically and emotionally.

There are many different formulations on the market that can help, including both over-the-counter and prescription options.

Two of the most used ingredients used in these formulations to help clear acne are tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide.

So your next question may be, can you use tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide together? Up until recently, the answer was no, you can not use tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide together. But times have changed!

Read on to learn the details!


Tretinoin 101

Tretinoin is also known as retinoic acid. It is the synthetic form of vitamin A, Retin-A is one of the well-known brand names of tretinoin.

This, however, should not be confused with the popular skincare ingredient retinol.

Tretinoin itself is a much stronger chemical than retinol.

This prescription-strength topical medication comes in both cream and gel forms.

Tretinoin works by causing skin irritation to speed up the life cycle of your skin cells. This makes them duplicate and die off at a faster rate. Thus, revealing newer and more healthy cells to replace them.

During the first three weeks of using tretinoin, your acne may seem worse than normal. It’s commonly referred to as a Tretinoin Purge, similar to the Retinol Uglies commonly experienced by retinol users. This is part of the natural healing process. It can take some cases more than 12 weeks of use before you’ll see a noticeable improvement in your acne.

Tretinoin has been used for decades to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris, as well as reduce skin inflammation, prevent clogging of pores, and exfoliate the outer layers of the skin. The goal is to reveal new and clearer skin.

Yet, it is very much recommended that you avoid using this topical medication with other treatments. The chemicals to be avoided include:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Sulfur
  • Alcohol and other astringents
  • Resorcinol
  • Benzoyl peroxide

During your first few months of using tretinoin, you’ll also need to avoid sun exposure, wind, and severe cold. This is because they can cause sunburn, dryness, and irritation to your skin when it’s in the healing process.

You will also have to use water-based creams and lotions. This is to help soothe the dryness and irritation that will be caused when using tretinoin.

Benzoyl Peroxide Basics

Benzoyl peroxide is a well-known, over-the-counter skincare ingredient. It is commonly included in many acne treatments, cleansers, and gels.

When you begin using it, your skin may become irritated. And like Tretinoin, your acne may also seem to be getting worse before it gets better.

This chemical works to treat acne by effectively peeling away the layer of dead skin cells. These dead cells accumulate on the skin’s surface.

Getting rid of these allows for the benzoyl peroxide to reduce any excess oil and kill the bacteria that has been trapped underneath them. But, this process also has the effect of causing redness and dryness.

This then leads to excessive peeling. Many users report itching and irritation on applications.

Benzoyl peroxide should be avoided if you have a sunburn, or if you’re using other skin peeling chemicals, like tretinoin.

This is because this synthetic ingredient can cause mild to severe reactions. It includes hives and itching to swelling of the face, eyes, and tongue, and even feeling faint.

Benzoyl peroxide should be avoided if you have a sunburn, or if you’re using other skin peeling chemicals, like tretinoin.

This chemical is also notoriously known to bleach clothing and your hair.

This means you might want to consider skipping an application before you do a workout so you don’t sweat the product out onto your hair and clothing. And make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands after each use.

Caution for the Sensitive Among Us

There are a few reasons why using both tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide would cause a severe problem. If you suffer from any of these, you will need to see your doctor first to avoid making your skin suffer even more:

  • Sunburned or raw skin
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis (seborrheic or contact)

Tretinoin and Benzoyl Peroxide Together

You now know that both tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide are both amazing ingredients that can help you to control your acne. But, using these two products together can cause serious skin irritation.

This happens because tretinoin breaks down when it is applied at the same time as benzoyl peroxide. This can cause:

  • Burning and redness
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Dryness, itching, and peeling
  • Inflammation, swelling, and hives
  • Severe sunburn
  • Cough and difficulty swallowing
  • Chest tightness accelerated heartbeat, and breathing difficulties
  • Muscle weakness

And these are all symptoms that you’ll want to avoid.

Yes, we all pay a price for beauty, but damaging your health shouldn’t be one of them!

TWYNEO: The New Kid in Town

Recently the FDA approved the use of a fixed-dose combination of tretinoin (at 0.1%) and benzoyl peroxide (at 0.3%) named TWYNEO, to treat acne vulgaris in patients over nine years of age.

TWYNEO is a cream formulation that is meant to be used once a day. The 2-in-1 cream has been proven to treat moderate to severe facial acne, both fast and effectively.

TWYNEO holds its tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide active ingredients within silica-based microcapsules. This means the tretinoin is stabilized and not degraded by the presence of benzoyl peroxide.

Thus TWYNEO gives power of both ingredients, without the side effects that can occur when separate products are used.

In clinical trials, TWYNEO has also been statistically shown to provide significant improvements in both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesion counts.

This product is good news for all those with acne vulgaris who have been looking for a new clinical treatment. You will need to visit your doctor to get TWYNEO, though, as it is only available with a doctor’s prescription.

TWYNEO is good news for all the acne vulgaris sufferers who have been looking for a new clinical treatment!


Now you know it is possible to use tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide together. By getting your doctor to prescribe TWYNEO, you can have the healthy clear and smooth skin you desire. After all, you deserve it!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).