Is Retin-A Micro Effective for Acne Treatment?

Updated June 19, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See’s Medical Review Board.

Retin-A Micro is a topical gel used to treat common acne. It can be used by both teens and adults alike.

This topical gel comes in two different strengths: 0.04% and 0.1%. Your dermatologist will help you get the strength you need.

It is a prescription medication, so you’ll need to see a dermatologist. There is no over-the-counter version of this treatment.

Although they sound alike, Retin-A Micro is different from Retin-A. They both contain the same active ingredient, tretinoin, but Retin-A Micro releases the medication more slowly, over time. This can help reduce irritation.

How It Works:

Retin-A Micro works by fighting against pore blockages in a few different ways. First, it speeds up cell turnover rates. This helps decrease the amount of dead skin cells and excess oil hanging around in the pores.

Retin-a Micro also helps make existing comedones less sticky, so they can be more easily expelled from the pore. When there is a reduction of pore blockages, there is ultimately a reduction of pimples so Retin-A Micro is helpful for both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.

Common Usage Directions:

Most people will apply Retin-A Micro once or twice daily. You’ll want to wash your face well with a gentle cleanser, pat dry, and then apply your medication over the entire face (not just on individual pimples.)

Retin-A Micro is available in a pump bottle. This makes it super easy to dispense exactly the right amount of medications you need, and takes some of the guesswork out of your treatment.

Possible Side Effects:

Just like all acne medications, Retin-A Micro can cause side effects. Luckily, for most people, the side effects are mild and don’t cause too much of a problem. They can be:

  • Mild burning or stinging
  • Redness
  • Dry skin and/or peeling

The good news is most of the side effects are mild and go away after your skin gets used to the medication.

Or course, if you notice more serious side effects, or even if your skin is just uncomfortable, let your dermatologist know.

Tips for Using Retin-A Micro:

  • Those delicate areas around your lips and by the corners of your nose can easily be irritated by acne medications. Try to avoid these areas.
  • Using an oil-free moisturizer can help reduce dryness and peeling. One that contains SPF 15 or higher is a plus.
  • Don’t give up too soon! Although some people see results quickly, others will need to use this medication for several weeks before seeing any improvement. Try to be patient.

More About Retin-A Micro From Drugs A-Z


Retin-A Micro Prescribing Information. Ortho Dermatologics.

“Tretinoin.” MedlinePlus. 03 April 2000. U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health. 25 Jun 2011.