A randomized, double-blind, controlled comparative trial of the anti-aging properties of non-prescription tri-retinol 1.1% vs. prescription tretinoin 0.025%

J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 Jan;11(1):64-9.


Vitamin A and its derivatives (commonly termed retinoids) are widely used in topical anti-aging products. Certain retinoids such as retinol and its esters are available without a prescription, while others such as tretinoin are available only via prescription. A randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical study was conducted to compare the efficacy and tolerability of a tri-retinol 1.1% gradual release cream vs. tretinoin 0.025% cream in females with mild-to-moderate facial photodamage. Subjects applied the test product to the entire face in the evening after cleansing in a progressively increasing frequency starting twice weekly for the first week, followed by three times weekly during the second week and then daily as tolerated for the third week and beyond. Treatment was continued for a total of three months. Clinical evaluations and standardized digital photographs were performed at baseline and after four, eight, and 12 weeks of treatment. Self-assessment questionnaires were completed by the subjects at four, eight, and 12 weeks to assess perceived efficacy of the test products. Thirty-four subjects (16: tri-retinol and 18: tretinoin) completed the study. Both test products significantly improved signs of photodamage, including fine and coarse periocular wrinkles, skin firmness, skin tone, mottled pigmentation, tactile roughness, overall photodamage and global photodamage improvement. There were no significant differences in efficacy between the two products for these assessments. The adverse effects (which were graded as mild or less) were those typically seen with topical retinoids. Subjects reported >93 percent overall satisfaction with both products at weeks 8 and 12.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Agents / chemistry
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Prescription Drugs / chemistry
  • Skin Aging / drug effects*
  • Skin Aging / pathology
  • Tretinoin / administration & dosage*
  • Tretinoin / chemistry
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin A / adverse effects
  • Vitamin A / chemistry


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Vitamin A
  • Tretinoin