Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Dermatologists Best Kept Secrets

Plant Mother Editorial Team

Getting on acne medication can be an intense journey because it takes lots of patience and understanding. When it comes to treating acne and fighting anti-aging, retinoids are the ones for the job. Tazarotene and tretinoin are ingredients from the retinoid class that are commonly used for acne treatment and combating signs of aging.

Here is an overview of the topics discussed:

  • What is Tazarotene?
  • Best Natural Alternative to Tazarotene
  • What are Retinoids?
  • What is Tretinoin?
  • Similarities Between Tazarotene vs Tretinoin
  • The Difference Between Tazarotene vs Tretinoin
  • Benefits of Tazarotene
  • Benefits of Tretinoin
  • Tazarotene vs Tretinoin: Which One is Better for Acne?
  • Which One is Better for Anti-aging?
  • Are Tazarotene and Tretinoin Safe for Sensitive Skin?

What is tazarotene?

Tazarotene is a retinoid medication that helps treat acne and psoriasis. It typically comes in a topical cream form and doctors normally prescribe it. Sometimes it comes in a gel or foam form.

Tazorac is the brand name of tazarotene and it is a popular medication that comes in gel form. Tazarotene slows down the overgrowth of skin cells and reduces skin cell inflammation. It reduces wrinkles and reduces facial pigmentation. It achieves this by increasing the thickness of the outer skin layers. The ingredient works hard by affecting skin cell growth and reducing the appearance of acne.

Tazarotene is one of dermatologists best kept secrets. All the dermatologists will tell you to use retinoids, but which one? Tazarotene is one of the most potent topical retinoids. But the great thing about it is that it has fewer side effects and causes less drying of your skin. That being said, it still causes a lot of dryness and peeling unfortunately.

Tazarotene is good not only for acne, but also for anti-aging. When you start using Tazarotene, especially if you’re just starting with retinoids, use it only a few times a week with a good moisturizer. Additionally, apply only a small amount of it and spread it to your face. Be careful with the area around your mouth, that’s where a lot of dryness and peeling can occur.

Best Natural Alternative to Tazarotene

Burning, itching, peeling – they are all normal when you use Tazarotene or tretinoin. Tretinoin purge is real. If you want the anti-aging benefits without the risk of skin purging or irritation, you can choose an all-natural vegan alternative for retinol. 

Plant Mother’s Retinol Serum is a 100% vegan and plant-based serum. The serum has organically grown ingredients (Bakuchiol, Sea Buckthorn, Hibiscus, Rosehips, and many more). Moreover, it is packed with nutrients and vitamins. It doesn’t cause any redness, purging skin, or sun sensitivity. This retinol serum helps treat wrinkles and fine lines and brighten up the complexion. 

Unlike prescription-based retinoids and synthetic retinoids, natural, plant-based retinol alternatives are becoming more popular. Most people don’t like burning, itching, peeling and all the irritation that goes with synthetic retinoids. 

Additionally, most of the strong retinoids need to be prescribed by a dermatologist and they’re expensive. 

Moreover, you have to use retinoids with a moisturizer. That means you have to invest in two products. However, Plant Mother’s Retinol serum is two products in one – it’s a natural retinol and a nourishing, moisturizing serum, all in one. 

What are retinoids?

Retinoids are a class of compounds derived from vitamin A. It is good to know the difference between retinoid vs retinol. They are in many skincare products, especially products for reducing wrinkles and smoothing out fine lines. However, not all retinoids are the same, they come in different strengths. 

Retinoids help treat sun damage, reduce signs of aging, improve texture, and reduce pigmentation. They are available over the counter or by your doctor’s prescription. 

Tazarotene and Tretinoin are both retinoids. If you want to rank retinoids from milder to stronger, the first one is adapalene (you can get it OTC), then tretinoin, and Tazarotene being the strongest. You should also know the difference between adapalene vs tretinoin

You have to use retinoids consistently for at least three months before you see the results. Unfortunately, redness and skin irritation will last several weeks to several months unless you use natural, plant-based retinol alternative.


What is tretinoin?

Tretinoin or retinoic acid helps treat acne and other skin diseases. You will need a prescription because of its strong effects on the skin. However, tretinoin is a little less strong than Tazarotene. The most popular prescription of tretinoin is called Retin-A. That being said, there are differences and similarities between tretinoin vs retinol.

Tretinoin works to keep the skin’s pores clear. It reduces dead skin cells, which leads to fewer breakouts. Also, tretinoin helps the skin look glowy and plump. Finally, it helps fight hyperpigmentation and lessen dark spots and wrinkles.

Similarities Between Tazarotene vs Tretinoin

Since tazarotene and tretinoin belong to the same retinoid class, they have some similarities.

Tazarotene and tretinoin both help treat acne. Also, they both work hard to fight signs of aging, lessen hyperpigmentation, and reduce wrinkles or fine lines.

They come in more than one form: gel, lotion, cream, and foam. Moreover, you can both of them get by prescription.

Tazarotene and tretinoin are both FDA-approved for treating signs of anti-aging like wrinkles and fine lines.

The Difference Between Tazarotene vs Tretinoin

Despite tazarotene and tretinoin both being retinoids, they differ in effectiveness and strength, depending on what your skincare goals are.

So, the question is the difference between tazarotene vs tretinoin. Tazarotene is stronger than tretinoin. It’s one of the strongest retinoids. Also, unlike tretinoin, it is suitable for individuals who are trying to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes the skin cells to multiply or overgrow. This specific medication helps treat psoriasis by slowing down the overgrowth of skin cells.

Tretinoin is good for people who are treating facial acne. It specializes in keeping your pores clear or speeding up the process of cell turnover or skin shedding. Think of tretinoin as an ingredient that removes dead skin cells to make room for healthy skin cells to grow. However, if you want to try natural alternatives, look into bakuchiol vs retinol – they are good gentle, plant-based options.

Tazarotene and tretinoin also work at different paces. It can take up to four weeks to see results from tazarotene, so it gives you faster results than Tretinoin. On the other hand, it can take up to 12 weeks to see results from tretinoin.

Benefits of Tazarotene:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Keeps pores clear
  • Reduce wrinkle lines
  • Slows down skin cell overgrowth
  • Improves skin texture
  • Treats primarily psoriasis but also acne

Benefits of Tretinoin:

  • Stimulates collagen production
  • Reduces signs of aging (wrinkles and fine lines)
  • Strengthens the skin
  • Even out skin ton

Which One is Better for Acne?

Tretinoin is the best option to help treat acne. It encourages faster cell turnover, which gets rid of dead skin cells faster and makes room for healthy skin cells to grow. Moreover, tretinoin can balance your skin’s natural oil production. This will help you prevent future breakouts and regulate your skin’s oil.

Which One is Better for Anti-aging?

Tazarotene is good for anti-aging because it boosts collagen production. Collagen helps rejuvenate the skin and improve its elasticity, smoothing wrinkles and fine lines. Therefore, this makes the skin look more youthful and improves its texture.

Are Tazarotene and Tretinoin Safe for Sensitive Skin?

Tretinoin is a strong ingredient that should be used for severe acne. It is known to cause intense tretinoin purge.

Here are the side effects of tretinoin:

  • Dryness
  • Mild burning sensation
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Mild peeling
  • Itching

Tazarotene is one of the strongest topical retinoids. Like tretinoin, tazarotene can be tough on the skin. Sometimes, tretinoin side effects can be long lasting and very harsh.  If your skin is sensitive, you’ll be better off using plant-based retinol such as this retinol serum

Here are the side effects of tazarotene:

  • Burning sensation
  • Itching
  • Blistering or peeling
  • Sun sensitivity
  • Itching
  • Discoloration


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. The publisher of this content does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, skincare product, or lifestyle program.

Plant Mother Editorial Team
Plant Mother's editorial team consists of skincare experts, dermatologists, and enthusiasts who love all things natural, vegan, and organic. They contribute to the Plant Mother blog, a comprehensive resource on skincare products, ingredients, and beauty how to’s.