What Is Altreno and Why Are a Ton of Derms Recommending It Right Now?

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Miami Beach, FL dermatologist Melissa Lazarus, MD and her 14-year-old son are very in sync on one specific skin care step of late: The regular use of Altreno (tretinoin) Lotion, 0.05%, which the doctor calls her "favorite product currently.”

“I use it on myself. It’s very tolerable and effective,” she says. “It is keeping my acne-prone skin super clear and I don’t have a lot of the dryness I find with other versions of tretinoin. My son uses it as well.”

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Bethpage, NY dermatologist Dr. Winifred Chu shares similar praise for the prescription-only product, and also uses it personally: “I have eczema and very sensitive skin and I can still tolerate and use Altreno every night. The hydrating ingredients in this lotion help to minimize the dryness and irritation, which are the common side effects with the use of tretinoin.”

According to the manufacturer—they’re also the masterminds behind Retin-A—the Rx is the “first and only tretinoin lotion, designed with women in mind, providing efficacy and tolerability with a once-daily dosing.” Translation: It’s good for adult acne, which, according to the latest American Academy of Dermatologist stats, affects up to 15 percent of women. Plus, Altreno backs that age claim via hydrating ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, glycerin and collagen, which Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias points out lessens the possibility of potential adverse effects such as dryness and irritation.

While Covington, LA dermatologist Christel Malinski, MD calls the lotion “nice and fancy,” she says the one drawback of having that positive reputation is a price tag to match.

“I don’t prescribe it often because of the cost to the patient. It’s not covered by insurance—meaning it’s more than $100 for one prescription, whereas generic tretinoin 0.025 percent is easily covered by insurance often for 10 percent of that cost,” she says. “If you are strictly using it for anti-aging, then the cost is easier to stomach as nothing is covered by insurance for wrinkles. But it does have a nice vehicle and is a low-potency tretinoin.”

New York dermatologist Peter Chien, MD also prefers to prescribe other options, mainly due to the cost. “I prescribe a stronger, but generic tretinoin 0.1 percent, and tell patients to mix a pea sized amount of it with an equal amount of Cerave PM moisturizing lotion. You end up getting the same 0.05-percent concentration with a moisturizer.”

Even with the cost in mind, New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD says Altreno is still “totally worth it” and looks at it this way: For the face, a tube last for months, so it’s a great value.

“The data shows improved tolerability compared to Retin-A Micro and Atralin. The glycerin and the hydrolysis collagen improves hydration and the mesh-like delivery system allows for gradual release. Patients over 25 love it. I use it as well. It is the best new retinoid out there for sure.”

Bonus Tip: Austin dermatologist David Bushore, MD says that the hardest part about prescription topical retinoids is being able to tolerate the stronger formulations—but he’s found a product that mixes perfectly with Altreno that doesn’t make his rosacea flare-up. “It has ingredients that have made it much easier for almost everyone to tolerate a medium strength prescription retinoid. Due to my rosacea, every topical retinoid has caused me irritation. Now I can use a medium strength prescription retinoid... as long as I also apply Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion ($94) immediately after. This Epionce lotion contains many anti-inflammatory ingredients that help with tolerability of topical retinoids. This combination of Altreno lotion and Epionce Renewal Facial Lotion works very well together.”