Retin-A for Under Eyes: What You Need to Know

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Retin-A is a form of vitamin A that was originally prescribed for people with acne. Since then, dermatologists prescribe Retin-A for under eyes, and for various other skin ailments including lines and wrinkles.

To use Retin-A correctly, many doctors recommend using a low-strength product at first and not something that’s full strength. Retin-A is a brand name and comes in many different strengths, but it’s best to start out with lower strengths and work your way up, keeping the strength fairly low when you use it underneath the eye area.

In this article, we will discuss what Retin-A/Tretinoin is, its benefits, how does it work to tighten the under-eye area, its safety, which strength is best, and more.

Many people believe that Retin-A and tretinoin are the same thing, but they are not. Not quite, anyway. Retin-A is a brand name for a product that contains tretinoin as the main ingredient. Other brands also have tretinoin in them.

Today, even doctors use the terms Retin-A and tretinoin interchangeably, but they are not technically the same thing, just like Kleenex and tissue are not technically the same thing.

Just keep in mind that tretinoin is the ingredient and Retin-A is the brand name, and it should be easy for you to remember the difference between the two.

What Are the Benefits of Retin-A For Under Eyes?

Retin-A is a favorite for millions of people all over the world, and the main reason for that can be broken down into one phrase: it works.

Retin-A offers the following benefits to its users:
  • Exfoliates and removes dead skin cells
  • Helps erase pigmentation caused by sun damage
  • Helps lighten up dark spots
  • Improves skin texture
  • Lessens fine lines, wrinkles, and bagginess
  • Prevents inflammatory and cystic acne
  • Promotes the production of collagen
  • Smoothes and softens the skin

As you can see, Retin-A is no longer just an acne medication. In fact, it is such a good anti-aging product that many dermatologists have it in their own medicine cabinets.

How Does Retin-A Work to Tighten Skin Under Eyes?

How Does Retin-A Work to Tighten Skin Under Eyes?

Dr. Gerrish, a nonsurgical skincare specialist, told everydayhealth that Retin-A works to tighten the skin under your eyes in several ways.

First of all, Retin-A increases blood flow to your skin, which gives it the oomph it needs to be healthy and to look good.

Second, it increases the turnover of your skin cells and regenerates them so that they can do their job better. Cell rejuvenation is important not just for improving acne and for anti-aging benefits, but also for a healthier glow. Retin-A also stimulates the cells to produce collagen, which is what gives your skin its firmness.

In addition to all of this, Retin-A thickens the layer of the skin that is right below the outer protective layer. Thicker skin in the eye area means less of a chance of getting wrinkles and puffiness, even if you are using a fairly low strength of tretinoin.

Again, low strengths of tretinoin are recommended under the eyes simply because the area is such a sensitive area.

One study involving 20 patients found that 12 weeks of treatment with topical tretinoin resulted in significant improvements in fine wrinkling around the eye area, around the mouth and cheeks, on the hands, skin pigmentation, and other skin aging signs.

Is it Safe to Use Retin-A For Under Eyes?

Retin-A is a prescription; therefore, you need to make sure you discuss all of your prescriptions and medical conditions with your doctor. Once you get the prescription, it’s imperative to use it exactly as directed or complications could develop.

Possible side effects are usually broken down into minor ones and those that are more severe.

Let’s take a look at the minor ones first, which include:

  • Discoloration of the skin (usually in patches)
  • Flakiness of the skin
  • Photosensitivity of the skin

Usually, these side effects are both minor and short-term, but if they do last longer than you think they should, talk to your doctor about it.

Then, there are side effects that are considered more serious and which you should definitely talk to your doctor about sooner rather than later. These include:

  • Blistering
  • Crusting
  • Eye redness or watering
  • Severe burning or swelling
  • Skin discoloration
  • Swelling of the eyelids

If you’re starting to panic reading these symptoms, you can calm down. The truth is that very few people experience severe side effects by using Retin-A. For most of the people who experience any type of reaction at all, it is usually minor and short-term.

Self Care Checklist

What Strength of Tretinoin Is Best for Under Eyes?

We mentioned earlier that tretinoin products come in various strengths. The most commonly prescribed strengths are 0.01, 0.025, 0.05, and 0.1 percent.

If you have sensitive skin or you’ve never used this product before, your doctor will likely start you out with the lowest strength to minimize the risk of irritation and dryness and he’ll probably direct you to use the product two to three days per week to start.

With this product, it’s best for you to start slowly and build up to the strongest strength just to be on the safe side.

Tips to Deal with Retin-A Side Effects

You can manage most Retin-A side effects with over-the-counter medications such as anti-itch medication and hypoallergenic products if your skin should get irritated.

If your side effects are minor but you are still uncomfortable after using Retin-A, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Only your doctor will be able to determine what to do next.

Frequently Asked Questions

Retin-A for Under Eyes - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can Tretinoin Be Used on Eyelids?

A: Yes, you can use Tretinoin on your eyelids, but it’s imperative not to get any whatsoever in your eyes.

Q: Does Retin-A Make Under Eye Wrinkles Worse?

A: Some people claim that using Retin-A will thin out the skin underneath your eyes, thus causing more wrinkles, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, Retin-A can actually thicken the skin under your eyes, which lessens the possibility of wrinkles and puffiness.

Q: How Can I Thicken the Skin Under My Eyes?

A: Retin-A will thicken the skin under your eyes. In addition, as the sun’s UV rays can cause thinning of the under-eye skin, experts also recommend to always apply sunscreen before leaving the house.

Q: Can I Use Ordinary Retinol Under Eyes?

A: Yes, you can, but you must make sure it does not get in your eyes. This is crucial because an infection can set in if retinol gets in or too near the eye area.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Tretinoin and Retinol?

A: Tretinoin is vitamin A and retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. As a general rule, tretinoin is recommended for people with oily or tolerant skin, while retinol is a little less aggressive and is therefore recommended for people with sensitive skin.

Final Thoughts About Retin-A For Under Eyes

Retin-A is a miracle prescription for good reason. It is a great anti-aging product and seems to work on most people without any serious side effects.

The active ingredient in Retin-A is tretinoin, another term for vitamin A. If you’re interested in getting this prescription medication, the next step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Judy Rose

Hi, it’s Judy!

I’m a passionate skincare specialist and writer. I have more than 7 years of experience as a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer and editor, and I’m extremely passionate about what I do.