If you’re one of the 50 million Americans with acne and you’ve sought treatment from a dermatologist, you likely know that most prescription acne treatments out there include retinoids, which can come with some unpleasant side effects. Although they may get the job done, they often cause unwanted dry spots, redness, and flaking of the skin along the way.
Enter, Altreno: a new prescription tretinoin (retinoid) that fights adult acne while also keeping skin hydrated at the same time. It’s formulated specifically to minimize the irritating effects of retinol, while also maximizing its breakout-busting, skin-smoothing benefits. Sound too good to be true? Here are all the details.
To be clear, tretinoin is not a new ingredient — it’s a type of retinol, or vitamin A derivative, that’s been widely prescribed by dermatologists for more than 50 years. “I prescribe [products containing tretinoin] all the time, every single day,” says Nava Greenfield, a dermatologist in Brooklyn, New York. “Most patients are happy [with them], but some have severe reactions of burning and stinging sensations.”
There are many different types of retinoids (including a whole new class of retinoids that was recently discovered), but all of them are varying forms of vitamin A that come in endless concentrations, shapes, and sizes — some over the counter, and stronger versions via prescription. All forms of retinol work by speeding up skin cell turnover, repairing skin’s molecular structure, and also boosting collagen levels. Retinoids also reduce follicular hyperkeratosis, which is a fancy way of saying that they help keep your pores clear and unclogged. This is why they also make for such effective acne treatments.
So, then what is so different about this new formula? Well, unlike all other retinoid-based acne treatments that have come before it, Altreno is formulated as a lotion. Whereas other prescription treatments could only be applied at night (and often with the recommendation of not using any moisturizer afterward, despite the super-drying side effects), Altreno is a retinol with moisturizing properties that can be used any time of day — morning or night.
“The problem with using a retinolic acid, the ones we’ve had at prescription strength in the past, is that they were really drying,” says New York City-based dermatologist Doris Day, who was a speaker at the Altreno launch event in New York City. “You don’t want your patients walking around thinking that the treatment is more problematic than having the condition.”
To minimize the irritating side effects of the retinoid as much as possible, the makers of Altreno paired 0.05 percent micro-particles of tretinoin with super-hydrating ingredients like soluble fish-derived collagen, glycerin, and sodium hyaluronate. The result is a lightweight lotion that you apply just once per day. And while it’s being marketed primarily toward women, because women make up an astounding 85 percent of those with adult acne, Altreno works for all people over nine years old.
You do need a prescription in order to get your hands on it, and once you do it will set you back $115. But, the good news is that one tube will last you three months, because you only apply a pea-sized amount of product per day. Just like other topical retinoids, it will also take consecutive, consistent use over time to produce real results — between four to 12 weeks.