misconceptions skin

Does Tretinoin Expire?

does tretinoin cream expire

We’ve all been there, sorting through a bin of skincare products when you find one that you’d like to start using again. But then, you check the expiration date and it has already expired. Or has it? Does tretinoin actually expire?  Read on to find out if tretinoin really goes bad and if you should be using tretinoin after its expiration date. 

What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin, or all-trans retinoic acid, is a popular medication that can be applied topically to treat several skin issues such as acne, wrinkles, and dark spots. Tretinoin is a component of many skincare routines and is most commonly found in prescription creams, lotions, and gels. 

Tretinoin is a form of vitamin A, also called a retinoin, which helps to speed up the turnover of skin cells and reduce the formation of new acne.

How do you use tretinoin?

Generally, to use tretinoin, you should start by cleansing and drying your skin. Then apply a pea-sized amount of the cream. It is also standard to use tretinoin at night because tretinoin sensitizes your skin, especially to sun exposure, a phenomenon called photosensitization.

As this is a prescription medication, it’s always important to consult your doctor and follow the written directions. 

What are the drawbacks of tretinoin?

What are the side effects of tretinoin?

Tretinoin can produce positive results in your skin’s appearance. However, it is considered a fairly harsh treatment, especially for those with sensitive skin, and can cause many negative side effects and reactions (most commonly: redness, stinging, blistering, and dryness). 

What is a tretinoin purge?

For some, tretinoin can also lead to a “tretinoin purge,” where the skin’s appearance will get worse before seeing any improvement. A tretinoin purge can include worsened acne, dryness, irritation, redness, etc. 

Depending on the person, tretinoin purge symptoms usually subside after several weeks. After the tretinoin purge is over, you might begin to see results, but it may take up to 12 weeks to see results for acne treatment. 

Is tretinoin a retinoid?

Similar to retinol, tretinoin is classified under the retinoid family, which all derive from Vitamin A. Originally, retinoids were used as an acne treatment due to their ability to keep pores unclogged. However, they have become increasingly popular due to their anti-aging effects that can tackle fine lines and wrinkles.  

How to properly store tretinoin?

For tretinoin to be effective for as long as possible, it must be stored properly, which means at room temperature and avoiding extreme heat or cold. Additionally, the product should be tightly sealed and away from moisture (e.g., bathrooms). 

Does tretinoin expire?

One of the most common questions asked about tretinoin is whether or not it expires. The answer is yes, tretinoin does expire. The expiration date is typically printed on the packaging of the medication and is typically around two years from the date of manufacture.

Can you use expired tretinoin?

Generally, you shouldn’t use expired tretinoin. Like with any drug or medication, the effectiveness of tretinoin will decrease over time and decrease even faster once opened or after it expires. As long as the product is stored properly, tretinoin might be effective for longer than the expiration date on the tube would lead you to believe.

However, expired tretinoin that isn’t stored properly may become contaminated with bacteria or other microorganisms, which can lead to skin irritation or infection. Therefore, it’s generally advisable to err on the side of safety and not use tretinoin once it expires.

Tretinoin Alternatives

Tretinoin doesn’t expire immediately on the expiration date, Tretinoin will gradually decrease in effectiveness as time goes on, but it’s generally not advisable to use any expired product. To ensure full effectiveness and safety, use tretinoin before it expires.

While retinoids have long been considered the gold standard of anti-aging skincare products, gentler products have been introduced to tackle certain overlooked anti-aging problems. While tretinoin can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it doesn’t create very significant results for skin elasticity, which makes the skin look bouncy and firm.

Fibroquin is a newly discovered molecule that does just that. Revela’s Fibroquin Essence can greatly improve skin elasticity by activating the collagen biopathway, and performed 2x better than retinol in a recent clinical study.
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Reviewed by: Enzo Benfanti, MEng

Enzo is a chemical engineer and data enthusiast with a background in industrial chemicals. His previous experience is in developing catalysts and designing industrial chemical processes to produce the precursors to detergents, polyester fibers, and other specialty materials. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo [Go Bills!] and his master's degree from Columbia University, both in chemical engineering.

Written by: Revela Editorial Team

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