Can I get Retin-A over the counter?

Do I need a prescription for Retin-A or is there a product over the counter that has a good amount of tretinoin in it? I wouldn't mind going to a dermatologist to get a script but if there is something over the counter I could at least give it a shot to see if it can help some acne breakouts I have been experiencing.


F, 30, Virginia

Tags:woman age 25-34 acne tretinoin

From time to time, my skin breaks out like anyone else's does. This can be really inconvenient sometimes, especially since I work in a high-end cosmetic store and having clear skin is a must! I haven't tried Retin-A, as it does require a prescription, but I have had really amazing results with an over-the-counter retinol cream that I've been using. It's not as potent as Retin-A is, but you can achieve the same results with it, just over a longer period of time. I wasn't in a big rush, since my breakouts don't tend to be too often or too intense, and so the retinol cream was a great alternative for me. Even better, if you have sensitive skin, your skin doesn't dry out and get as irritated as it would get with using a topical Retin-A.

I found it confusing because there are a lot of over the counter skin care products that have retinol included in the ingredients. Retinol is similar to Retin-A but they aren't the same thing. From what I understand, retinol is a little bit safer to use and can be used effectively without a doctor's prescription. Retin-A is potentially dangerous and really should not be used without in depth instructions from a medical professional. When I spoke to my doctor about it, he said that the danger in using Retin-A without a prescription is that it is very difficult to tell normal side effects from potentially dangerous ones. That is one of the main reasons that Retin-A can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription.

Retin-A requires a prescription. I tried over-the-counter retinol creams similar to Tretinoin but I couldn't get significant or lasting results with the over-the-counter products. If your acne is minimal, you may get results using over-the-counter products with retinol versus Retin-A, which requires a prescription. Retinol is more gentle and doesn't produce the quick or extreme results that are possible with Retin-A.

Advanced Anti-Aging Therapy, which is available at CVS and other pharmacies, has good reviews. It has moisturizer and so it won't cause extreme peeling, which you may prefer. But, you can't expect the skin rejuvenation results that I experience with prescription medicine with Retin-A. I have found that it is less expensive to see a doctor and get a prescription using my insurance then it is to waste money on expensive otc retinol products that don't get the same results. I hope my experience helps you.

Actual Retin-A can only be obtained with a prescription. However, there are retinol products over the counter that work well for those who do not have insurance, or if the insurance does not cover Retin-A. The thing that I needed to keep in mind is that while over the counter products can be effective, they are not prescription grade. With that being said, the occasional over the counter brand name product has helped tremendously with unexpected and poorly timed breakouts. Sometimes, I don't have the time or money to see the doctor when my skin breaks out. A quick trip to the drugstore has proven to be somewhat effective when Retin-A was not an option.

I heard some co-workers talking about Retin A. As someone who suffers from acne, I dismissed it as another fad that promises to work wonders and then doesn't deliver. However, a few months later, I noticed that one of my co-workers had newly clear skin, and it was absolutely amazing! I headed to the drugstore to purchase Retin A, only to discover that it is not available over the counter. So I immediately headed to my dermatologist to ask for a prescription. While there are similar acne treatments that are available over the counter, Retin A currently is not.