Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Which Is Right For Your Skin?

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Written By Julie Ingram
Tazarotene vs Tretinoin

Tazarotene and Tretinoin are prescription anti-aging and anti-acne medicines available in lotions, creams, and gels. 

They treat various skin disorders, including acne and sun-induced skin aging signs (such as wrinkles and uneven spots on your face). Tazarotene is also potent in treating Psoriasis.

Different brands and strengths are approved for different uses, so verify the approved uses for your specific brand and strength. 

Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Quick Overview

Treats AcneAnti-AgingTreats Psoriasis
Tazarotene YesYesYes
Tretinoin YesYesNo

Which class do Tazarotene and Tretinoin belong to?

Tazarotene and Tretinoin both belong to a medicinal class known as Retinoids.

Retinoids are generated from vitamin A (Retinol) and function similarly to Vitamin A.

Retinoids help reduce fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating the production of collagen (an essential skin building block), which thickens the outermost layer of the skin.

Additionally, they stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin.

Retinoids also have an anti-inflammatory effect and slow down the overgrowth of skin cells, which is beneficial for patients with acne and Psoriasis. 

They are comedolytic medications that prevent dead cells from clogging pores and help unclog them. 

Thus, it helps in getting rid of comedones and inhibits their development. 

Comedones are the little bumps (papules) that form when a hair follicle or pore becomes clogged. Commonly found on the forehead or chin of acne sufferers, comedones can be skin-colored, white, or black.

Which Retinoid generation do they fit in?

Tretinoin, also known as All-Trans Retinoic acid, is a first-generation Retinoid and the first topical Retinoid ever created.

It is well-recognized for treating acne and reducing fine facial wrinkles in patients who do comprehensive skin care and avoid sunlight. 

Tretinoin is among the most affordable or cost-effective Retinoids. 

On the other hand, Tazarotene is a third-generation Retinoid and one of the most potent Retinoids in treating acne and fine facial lines. 

It was designed to target retinoid receptors in the skin more precisely and to minimize unwanted effects.

Unlike Tretinoin, Tazarotene is also utilized for facial patchy hyper- and hypopigmentation, benign facial lentigines (liver spots), and Psoriasis. 

Which is more stable when exposed to light?

Tazarotene is considered stable when exposed to light. It is photostable. 

Tretinoin is photolabile, which means it is less stable in the presence of light. However, its microsphere technology, which is used in the Retin-A Micro gel formulation of Tretinoin, has helped improve the drug’s stability in light and reduced side effects such as irritation.

Tretinoin vs Tazarotene
mediaphotos/ Getty Images Signature

Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Which is better for anti-aging treatment?

Tazarotene may provide results more quickly than Tretinoin, particularly if you have a lot of sun damage on your face. 

According to the results of a clinical study that includes 349 participants, patients with photodamaged skin, Tazarotene appears to act faster than Tretinoin. However, it has been observed that long-term treatment with Tretinoin will produce the same results.

Which one to consider for treating acne: Tazarotene vs Tretinoin

Tazarotene and Tretinoin are believed to be equally effective for treating acne.

Some research indicates that Tazarotene may be more beneficial for treating non-inflammatory acne. 

Once-daily application of Tazarotene 0.1% gel is more effective than once-daily Tretinoin 0.025% gel in

  • Reducing the number of papules
  • Reducing the number of open comedones
  • More quickly reducing the number of pustules

However, Tazarotene and Tretinoin are equally effective in treating closed comedones.

Can Tretinoin be used for Psoriasis?

Tretinoin has not been recognized for treating Psoriasis, whereas, Tazarotene is potent in treating Psoriasis. 

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes itchy rashes and scaly spots on the knees, elbows, and scalp. 

Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Which causes less irritation?

Tazarotene and Tretinoin have similar side effects. These include Burning sensation, itching, etc. 

However, Tazarotene causes slightly more irritation than Tretinoin. 

Tazarotene may be more irritating to individuals with darker skin tones.

Tazarotene or Tretinoin
Chiociolla/ Getty Images

Which of the two gets inactivated by Benzoyl Peroxide?

Tretinoin cream and gel may be inactivated by Benzoyl Peroxide, which is another topical acne treatment. 

Tazarotene is not inactivated by Benzoyl Peroxide and does not have the same limitation.

Tretinoin microsphere gel is also not inactivated by Benzoyl Peroxide

Do they require a prescription?

Tazarotene and Tretinoin are prescription-based medications. The doctor will first diagnose your condition. and then based on the severity and the response to the medication, they will determine the best dosage for you. 

Which one to choose: Tazarotene or Tretinoin?

According to many factors, it is visible that Tazarotene has more potential than Tretinoin, except for the fact that Tazarotene causes slightly more irritation. 

Nevertheless, the results are individualistic and can vary from person to person. Results can be based on several factors relating to your skin type and tolerance. 

Some prefer Tazarotene over Tretinoin and vice versa. The choice (Tazarotene vs Tretinoin) is highly dependent on the skin condition that must be treated. 

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