The vitamin A derivatives can be found over-the-counter masquerading under familiar names like "retinol" and "retinyl palmitate," but you can only get the most potent forms, including tretinoin, with a prescription and a major caveat: In all likelihood, they will irritate the shit out of your skin. The initial redness and peeling might be worth the end result, but bright, smooth, breakout-free skin shouldn't have to come with a side of suffering.
As of August 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized that fundamental right in an official capacity by approving Altreno, a brand-new acne-fighting lotion that pairs 0.05% tretinoin with proven hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and collagen. With a fast-absorbing finish and lightweight, easy-to-spread texture, Altreno promises to make getting your tretinoin fix less irritating — according to a press release, less than 4% of patients involved in clinical trials reported dryness, pain, irritation, or peeling of any kind — and less annoying overall, eliminating the need for thick creams that tend to pill under moisturizer and makeup.
Though Altreno was just green-lit by the FDA, dermatologist Ted Lain, MD, has plenty of experience with it already; he participated in the clinical trials and has used it on his own patients since, and predicts the lotion will be a serious game-changer for acne sufferers who've had problems using tretinoin in the past. "The tolerability really stood out to me, especially since the effectiveness against acne is on par with other tretinoin medications that are far more drying and irritating," Dr. Lain says. "The addition of humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, increases the moisture content of the skin to combat those common side effects."
A clinically-proven prescription retinoid that not only doesn't leave skin bone dry but actually moisturizes might sound like a pipe dream for the perpetually broken-out, but between the approval of Altreno and the revelation that goats like it when people smile at them, the future is starting to look a little brighter than we thought. (Hopefully we won't need to revisit that statement after the midterm elections.)