POSTED: 12 Dec 2023

If You’re Thinking About Using Tretinoin Under Eyes, Read This First

The eyes are one of the most important features in the face from an expression perspective. We use them to convey emotions and non verbally communicate. As such, they provide a record of our lives – with laughter lines denoting happier times whilst dark circles and shadows marking more difficult ones. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with signs of ageing and hyperpigmentation, these are a big cosmetic concern for many people especially when they occur under the eyes. One of the most powerful skincare ingredients, we often get asked if you can use Tretinoin under the yes. In this post we’ll discuss the benefits and risks of using Tretinoin in the under eye area and share our top tips for doing so.

What is Tretinoin?

Tretinoin is a prescription only medicine that is up to 20x more powerful than Retinol. There are decades of research that support its safety and effectiveness in treating skin conditions like acne, lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and scars or texture. However despite these impressive results, Tretinoin needs careful usage especially on sensitive skin like in the under eye area.

Benefits of Using Tretinoin in the Under Eye Area

The under eye skin is by its very nature thin and delicate. This is why it often reacts less well to active skincare products than the rest of the face. That being said, there are plenty of benefits to applying Tretinoin in the under eye area:

  • Fewer Fine Lines and Wrinkles: One of the most famous effects of Tretinoin is that it can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Since under eye area is particularly prone to showing signs of aging, Tretinoin can be of benefit here. It stimulates collagen production which smoothes out creases and crow’s feet that build up and get worse with age. It also tightens the skin.
  • Improved Skin Texture: Regular use of Tretinoin under the eyes can also lead improve skin texture. This is because it increases cell turnover which exfoliates that skin to make it smoother, softer and more refined.
  • Brighter Skin: Hyperpigmentation around the eyes is a very common skin concern. Tretinoin helps fade dark circles and reduces pigmentation in this area. This can lighten and brighten the under eyes.
  • Thicker & Less Hollowed Look: Tretinoin can also make the skin under the eyes thicker, plumper and tighter. This over time reduces the impact of volume loss which occurs with ageing and causes under eye hollows.

Risks & Considerations

Whilst Tretinoin offers several benefits for under eye skin care, there are a few side-effects and risks. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Skin Irritation: The under eye skin is very thin and delicate so its even more at risk of redness, peeling and irritation.
  • Eye Injury: If you get Tretinoin in to your eyes, there’s a risk of irritating them. This can lead to redness, pain and even blurred vision.
  • Increased Sun Sensitivity: Tretinoin can make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. The under eyes are very vulnerable as people often miss this area when applying sunscreen.
  • Dryness and Flaking: These are common when people first start using Tretinoin and may be more noticeable in the under eye area.
  • Initial Worsening: Some experience what looks like an initial worsening of their under eye wrinkles or dark circles. In fact, the skin isn’t getting worse but the initial period of adjustment may include skin dryness, flaking or irritation makes it look rougher. This then makes the skin look more aged or tired.
  • Potential for Long-term Damage: If you don’t use Tretinoin properly then you can damage the skin under your eyes. Tretinoin can cause long-term damage such as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, erythema, thinning or increased fragility of the under eye skin.
  • It’s Not for Everyone: Tretinoin is a prescription only medicine for a reason. It may not be suitable for certain skin types, conditions or sensitivities. You also can’t use it if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. That’s why it’s vital to consult with a doctor before starting Tretinoin and specifically ask if you can use it in on your under eyes.
  • Interactions with Other Products: Tretinoin can cause irritation if used with other actives like exfoliating acids or Vitamin C.

How to Use Tretinoin on the Under Eyes

So, how can you use Tretinoin under eyes safely? The key lies in thoughtfulness, moderation and patience. Here are our top tips:

  • Consult with a Dermatologist: Make sure that you discuss if you can and how you should use Tretinoin in the under eye area with your doctor. This is the only way that you can be sure that you’re doing the right thing for you as they will be familiar with the condition and behaviour of your skin.
  • Start Low: A low strength will allow your skin to adapt to Tretinoin without severe irritation.
  • Go Slow: Begin with 1-2 times a week and gradually increase up to nightly as your skin tolerates.
  • Patch Test: Perform a patch test on a small area of skin on your face or neck to check for any adverse reactions before applying to the under eyes.
  • Preparing Your Skin: Ensure your skin is clean and completely dry before applying Tretinoin. If you use a toner, make sure this completely absorbs.
  • Correct Application Technique: Sandwiching is key for this area. Apply a thin layer of hydrating moisturisers or eye cream first. Then gently massage a rice-grain sized amount of Tretinoin to the skin. Follow up with another thin layer of moisturiser.
  • Moisturise: Sandwich Tretinoin with a gentle hydrating eye cream or moisturiser. Look for products containing hyaluronic acid, peptides, Vitamin B5 and and Vitamin E. This will help prevent irritation and counteract any initial dryness and flaking.
  • Sun Protection: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF30 every morning regardless of the weather.
  • Adapt & Personalise: Pay close attention to how your skin reacts. If you experience severe irritation, redness, or peeling contact your doctor.
  • Be Patient: It can take several weeks or even months to see noticeable results when using Tretinoin under the eyes.

Tretinoin is a powerhouse skincare treatment that has profound anti-ageing and skin brightening benefits which can even extend to the under eyes. That being said, this is a powerful medication and should be approached with respect as inappropriate use can cause long-term damage to the skin. The best thing you can do is ensure that you use Tretinoin under the guidance of a medical professional who will advice you on how to use it safely and correctly to address your individual skin concerns and needs. With a cautious approach, good application technique, perseverance and a lot of patience, it is possible to safely use Tretinoin to revitalise the under eye area.

At City Skin Clinic, we are completely devoted to personalised skincare. In our online skin clinic, our doctors offer safe and effective treatments like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone. We treat a range of skin conditions including  acnehyperpigmentationmelasma and skin ageing. To start your personalised skincare plan, book a virtual video consultation or use our online consultation form. The journey towards great skin starts here.

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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