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Altreno Vs Retin-A: What’s the difference?

We compare the OG Rx retinol to the shiny new model.

July 31, 2023

Has anyone else been getting blitzed with mysterious Instagram ads for a new product called Altreno? If you’ve seen this product and its cute purple branding, you might wonder, what even is this stuff? It turns out that Altreno is a prescription vitamin A treatment that’s gotten an upgrade compared to the original, Retin-A or tretinoin. We’re here to answer all your questions about this updated vitamin A product, so you can decide if it’s worth trying out or not. 

What is Altreno? 

Altreno is a tretinoin cream. Tretinoin is the strongest topical version of Vitamin A available. Tret is a tried and true skincare ingredient that dermatologists love for treating acne and the signs of aging. Altreno has added ingredients to help with the most persistent side effect of tret: dryness and irritation. It comes in one dosage, 0.05%. That means for each gram of the product, there is 0.5 mg of tretinoin. It’s FDA approved to treat acne. 

How does Altreno work? What does it treat?

Since Altreno has the same active ingredient as its predecessor, Retin-A, it works the same. Tret causes skin cells to turnover more rapidly and also reduces sebum (oil) production. Both of these things help with acne, as well as with uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles. Besides SPF, tretinoin is the only topical treatment that is proven to be truly anti-aging. 

How is Altreno different from regular tretinoin?

Altreno combines tretinoin with other ingredients designed to reduce the biggest problem people have with tretinoin: dryness and irritation. The first month of using tretinoin usually results in annoying side effects like peeling, irritation, and redness. This keeps a lot of people from using it correctly or consistently, which means they don’t see the best results. Some people abandon it altogether because they find tret so irritating. Altreno adds hyaluronic acid, natural collagen, and glycerin. Here’s what each of these things do: 

  • Hyaluronic acid: attracts water to the skin to keep it hydrated
  • Collagen: Helps keep moisture in the skin
  • Glycerin: protects skin from irritation and seals in moisture

All three of these ingredients together keep skin hydrated and moisturized, so that you can tolerate using tretinoin consistently. Of course, you can also chase straight tretinoin with glycerin-heavy, HA-heavy products, but it’s more convenient to have a product that combines everything in one. It can also be challenging to find moisturizers that are sufficiently bland enough not to make irritation worse. This is especially the case with hyaluronic acid products–since it is an acid, if the pH is too acidic, it can sting on skin being treated with vitamin A. Altreno was created specifically to avoid these kinds of problems. 


Who can use Altreno? 

A lot of people can use Altreno, but it’s not recommended for use in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. If you have fish allergies, you may be allergic to Altreno (weird but true). If you have eczema, it may not be suitable. Otherwise, Altreno is usually well-tolerated and safe for most adults. Tretinoin has been on the market for many years. It was first approved in 1971, so we have many decades of research and information about its safety and efficacy.  

Where to get Altreno? 

Altreno is available by prescription only, available at your dermatologist’s office or sometimes at local MedSpas. Don’t try to cut corners and buy it from shadowy online sources–you’re likely to end up with counterfeit product that won’t get you the results you’re looking for. 

To sump up, Altreno is worth looking into if you’ve had a hard time with traditional prescription tretinoin and want something that’s more comfortable for your skin. If you’re looking for an option that you might be able to get at a lower price, regular tret may be better, as there are generic versions available, and Altreno doesn’t come in generic. We think both Altreno and plain tretinoin are gold standard treatments for acne and signs of aging.

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