What Happens If You Stop Using Tretinoin?

LuxeLuminous is reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

One effective ingredient in skincare products that you can use is Tretinoin, or Retin-A.

Tretinoin helps with cell turnover, which clears skin, repairs acne, and reduces wrinkles. It helps a lot, but what happens if you stop using Tretinoin? If you’ve already gotten the results that you wanted and stopped using Tretinoin, your skin issues could return, but they may not.

That would depend on what your skin issues are. As well as the different factors that could also be causing your skin concern.

In this article, we’ll discuss the skin issues Tretinoin tackles, how it works, and what happens when you stop using it.


What Exactly Is Tretinoin?

Tretinoin is a prescription medication derived from vitamin A. It is known as one of the most effective treatments for those with acne.

When applied on the skin to help treat various skin issues like acne and wrinkles. It can be helpful in helping you manage acne breakouts. It is also quite useful in preventing them.

There are various formulations available. They could either be in gel form or in cream form.

Additionally, they also come in various strengths. It depends on where it is applied in the body and what it is used for. As this is a prescription medication, your doctor will find the right strength for your skin’s needs.

What Does Tretinoin Do To The Skin?

When applied to the skin, Tretinoin is able to help with a variety of skin issues.

First of all, it helps with acne lesion removal. This is an FDA-approved product that helps to clear up acne breakouts.

Apart from clearing them up, it also helps prevent breakouts. This is especially true when you use it as a long-term treatment.

Some of your wrinkles and fine lines could also be less visible when tretinoin is applied to it. This anti-aging effect is another common reason why it is used for skincare.

Another reason to use tretinoin is to aid in hyperpigmentation. This is especially true if hyperpigmentation is caused by age-related conditions.

Do You Have To Use Tretinoin Forever? What Happens If You Stop Using Tretinoin

Tretinoin can be used as a skin treatment for a variety of skin concerns like acne and wrinkles (see below). One reason people might think that you’d have to use it forever is that the results don’t show up fast. That’s also the reason why it is considered an effective long-term treatment.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to use tretinoin forever. Depending on your skin concerns, you may stop the use of it when it is no longer needed.

Acne Treatments

Those who use it for acne could stop using it once their acne is under control. However, you will need a program to follow to make sure that the acne doesn’t come back.

Sometimes other treatments will work once your Tretinoin is done, but there is always a possibility your acne will come back. If you are dealing with hormonal acne, you may find that it often comes back, and you may want to restart the tretinoin use.

Of course in some cases, acne treated with tretinoin doesn’t come back. That’s the goal!

When you stop using tretinoin, you also stop its effect on the skin.

There are different underlying factors that could cause your acne. If it is properly treated by your dermatologist, it is possible you’ll be able to keep your acne at bay without restarting tretinoin over and over.

Wrinkle Reduction

For those who are using it to help prevent wrinkles and other signs of aging skin, you may also choose to stop using tretinoin. But understand that the signs of aging will come back.

Skin doesn’t stop aging, no matter what you use. But you can slow the process down and avoid some of the signs by using tretinoin or other treatment procedures. And once you stop using it, your skin will gradually revert back to its default state.

Once you stop using it, your skin will gradually revert back to its default state.

So you don’t really have to use tretinoin forever. But you could use it for long-term treatment. I can be used for years under supervision. And of course, if you start having problems or bad reactions to it then immediately contact your dermatologist about it.

Treating Acne With Tretinoin

If there is one skin condition that Tretinoin is most known for treating, that is acne. To understand how it can help treat acne, we first need to know how acne breakouts happen.

Small acne lesions like blackheads and whiteheads could develop when there is a clogged pore. The clogged pore may be due to the sebum and the dead skin cells, which are both found on the skin.

The sebum is actually a product of the sebaceous gland. It helps with skin moisturization. It also offers protection from external damage.

If there is one skin condition that Tretinoin is most known for treating, that is acne.

In the case of acne, there is too much sebum is produced, which is why there could be a build-up in the pore.

Apart from the sebum, the skin’s normal process also involves shedding skin cells on the top layer of the skin. These are replaced but could build up when it doesn’t successfully detach from the topmost layer

When that happens, the old dead skin cells on the topmost layer could shed. And could mix with the sebum and get trapped in the pores.

This is what could create acne. The blackheads and whiteheads are also acne but they are milder ones. When bacteria get involved and trapped it will cause inflammation. This forms the pustules and papules in acne.

With Tretinoin, researchers found that there are several ways that it can help with acne. The first one is to speed up the cell turnover process.

The second one is that it helps the dead skin cells to detach from the skin. This is helpful because it prevents the build-up of skin cells. This could get mixed up with the sebum and clog the pore.

It can also help reduce the pore size. The sebaceous glands do not produce too much sebum thus cause acne breakouts.

Furthermore, using Tretinoin helps with the production of collagen. It may not directly help with acne problems, but it does help by preventing acne scarring. and treating the existing acne scars.

Does Tretinoin Work?

Tretinoin does work against acne and it can help prevent it from coming back. It is one of the effective topical treatment methods today used for stubborn acne. However, you do have to note that the effects of Tretinoin aren’t instant.

Although it starts working as soon as you apply it to your face, The results aren’t visible until a few weeks later. It may already be working effectively even without the visible signs.

Visible signs would appear at an average of about 12 weeks of continuous treatment. Some may see the visible results before the 12-week mark or after the 12-week mark. That will depend on a variety of factors such as:

1. Acne severity

If you have severe acne, it is more likely for you to see your skin cleared up for longer than 12 weeks. You have to be patient in continuously using the product.

2. Strength of tretinoin cream used

Another factor is the strength of the cream used. Although a higher percentage of the tretinoin in the cream may be more effective in treating acne, it doesn’t mean that applying more of the cream with tretinoin on the skin makes it more effective.

That means that a 0.1% would be better than a 0.05% tretinoin. Putting more of the cream in either concentration won’t be better than putting a smaller amount.

3. How you use the product

The best way to make tretinoin work is to use it consistently. If you skip on some days, it may take longer for you to see results.

4. The skin’s sensitivity to it

The effects of the tretinoin could also vary depending on how your skin takes it. Some may react fast to it and some could react slower. Tretinoin can trigger a purge that can last for weeks. You may feel an instinctual desire to stop using it during this time, but this purge will end! Before you stop, consult your dermatologist.

5. The other skin products used

Another factor would be the other skincare products that you use. Some skincare products may work well with your tretinoin cream if they help them be absorb faster. In that case, you could also expect results sooner.

Others may work against your tretinoin (such as benzoyl peroxide). Be sure to discuss the products you intend to use with your dermatologist.

Tretinoin For Wrinkles

Apart from being useful in acne treatments, it is also useful in treating wrinkles and other issues due to skin aging.

The main reason why it is capable of this is that it speeds up skin cell turnover. This makes the skin look more youthful.

The collagen-inducing properties of Tretinoin help in making the skin look plump and younger. Collagen is essential for the skin and as we age, it is something that we produce less of.

Although tretinoin will work on wrinkles, the results may not be easily seen. Some fine lines and small wrinkles may improve in appearance only after about 3-4 months of use.

Some would even take 6 months before visible results are seen. Tretinoin treatment for aging skin is a long-term treatment.

See also:

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).