Retin-A (Tretinoin) and Hair Growth

Retin-A (generic drug ingredient name Tretinoin) is a Vitamin A derivative that is primarily used as an acne medication. It is also used to combat wrinkles and skin aging via stimulating collagen production. Dermatologists love Retin-A, which is sometimes referred to as all-trans retinoic acid.

Retin-A and Minoxidil for Hair Growth

Retin-A Cream
Retin-A Cream.

For many years, some people have used Retin-A in tandem with Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) for hair growth purposes. Numerous hair loss sufferers and a number of studies suggest that this combination treatment with Retin-A results in superior hair growth results.

In fact one such study in support of Tretinoin and hair growth just came out recently in April 2019. Some of the authors of this study are highly renowned in the hair loss world. Tretinoin enhances the effectiveness of Minoxidilin androgenetic alopecia patients by upregulating follicular sulfotransferase enzymes.

Even studies from decades ago have found Retin-A to benefit hair growth.

Blog reader “Quentin” is an especially good responder to this Tretinoin and Minoxidil combination treatment per one of his comments from last year.

“Admin, would you consider doing a post on tretinoin? I have tried so many different types of minoxidil cocktails and they all make my hair worse. Every time I go back to the minoxidil and treninoin mix almost all my hair comes back within a few months. It is the ONLY thing that works for me and I don’t understand why more people do not know about it.”

In my post on extra strength Minoxidil, blog reader “Peewee” posted the following interesting comment:

“I’m 47 and used dr Lee’s xandrox for many years. I was in my 20’s and had lost my temples and was getting comments that my crown was thinning and .25 mg per day finasteride plus 5% xandrox night and day formula grew it all back. I have no picture proof but his products were the best, amazing results. The night minox had the retin-a and the morning didn’t but they both had azelaic acid. The theory was that the retin-a would peel some skin over night and morning dose would have better absorption. It was a sad day when he was shut down, those were my best hair days ever.”

Note that prescription Retin-A is different from the weaker non-prescription Retinol. This whole class of chemicals is known as retinoids. Also of interest, the Reddit for Tretinoin has almost 12,000 members at the time of writing this post.

Retin-A Side Effects

Retin-A (Tretinoin) can have an number of side effects, including: excessive skin dryness; flaking; increased skin sensitivity and irritation; pigment changes; and, in rare anecdotal reports, even hair loss.

34 thoughts on “Retin-A (Tretinoin) and Hair Growth”

  1. This might really help for someone who catches baldness early and can “maintain”. Hope it works! Great that new options are always being explored.

  2. Dr. Lee had Retin A in his earlier products but didn’t put it in high octane Zandrox 15%. He indicated it wasn’t necessary for the penetration and it may actually be counter productive. Before that the only study was with Dr. Lewin who mixed it with 2% Rogaine back in the day. Since Dr. Lee took a dump I’ve tried many concoctions with and without Retin A but decided to leave it out. Still say Dr. Lee’s products were the best and have not maintained at the same level ever since that MF extorted him and subsequently ratted him out to the FDA. I hope that guy is reading this and he burns in hell.

  3. I’ve been using Dr. Klein’s Promox for years with great results. Has anyone else used it?

    1. I used Promox after Dr. Lee went out of business. Promox and Murray Ave are ok, but no Xandrox by any means. My feeling is that the ingredients are legit but as someone said to me it’s not just what’s in the souffle it’s how you bake it. Dr. Lee had the best way of “cooking up” the ingredients for maximum results. Anything I’ve used since is sub level. BTW I got an email that the people who bought Promox from the late Dr. Klein are going out of business.

        1. I’m hesitant to post where to buy stuff for many reasons. You can check out Murray Ave Pharmacy in PA. They have the same stuff available as Dr. Klein’s formula. I think they use quality ingredients. If you talk to Susan the owner she is full of sh*t though. She’s made claims about her products and other compounded minox that is simply not true. Also, she doesn’t specialize in hairloss formulations, has lots of RX and natural treatments for anything that ails ya. That being said, it’s a reasonable option in an arena where the choices are limited.

  4. What’s with alzaic Acid? Joe Rogan on a podcast said once that got pulled out of whatever he was taking, his hair went south

    – Anything from the hair congress? I take a no.

  5. Tretinoin is one of the ingredients in Compounded Minoxidil Formula 82M that enhances its hair growth results. Peer review studies suggest that it may also enhance penetration of the minoxidil allowing more of it to reach the follicle, as we discussed on the Peter Attia MD Podcast recently. Patients, and myself included, have found the 82M to be much less greasy and much more powerful than over-the-counter rogaine and generic minoxidil—an effective alternative. Far fewer issues regarding hairstyling problems and skin irritation too because the propylene glycol free vehicle dries in minutes with no gooey residue. A quick search shows Formula 82M is the top-ranked, top-reviewed prescription alternative to rogaine/generic minoxidil. (Also comes in a topical finasteride version too, 82F.)

    1. “Top ranked” by who? I tried this one, it was another one that’s ok. BTW Dr. Bauman wanted close to $200 a bottle (5 years ago) for Formula 82M, I found it locally with a San Diego based derm for around $80. This local derm is a great guy, I believed he’s stopped “prescribing” it. But then again Dr. Bauman also was promoting Zerona laser for weight loss then, like chiropractors, podiatrists, etc. You don’t see that advertised anymore…why? It didn’t work! In my opinion Dr. Bauman has never met a money maker he doesn’t like, a marketing shark. Ironically, the guy who is the marketer for formula 82M is based in San Diego, he is the one who used the phrase ” it’s not just what’s in the souffle it’s how you bake it” when I spoke to him when researching this product. Good guy, mediocre product. Yeah, Yoda has been around the block!

      1. Yoda,
        Thank you for your feedback and for keeping track of my 20+yr career in hair transplantation!

        Ratings for products and prescriptions can be found in various places on the web, here’s one 3rd party site that collects blinded reviews and ratings on 82M Compounded Minoxidil…
        Minoxidil Formula 82M – Verified Reviews:

        Compounded prescriptions vary in price depending on their quality. It’s no secret that Formula 82M costs more than rogaine and generic minoxidil, so it’s not for everyone. However, it is a less greasy, less gooey, more powerful alternative to rogaine/generic minoxidil without propylene glycol (a common irritant), proven with research as well as in the clinic. Many people around the U.S. seeking alternatives to Xandrox or Dr. Lee’s formulas, etc. continue to request virtual consultations with me and most have had good success with 82M.

        Detailed info about Compounded Minoxidil 82M, topical finasteride, and other treatments were discussed during the interview I recently did with Dr. Peter Attia on his recent podcast called “The Drive:”
        The episode and show notes are a must for anyone interested in biohacking their hair follicles.

        Recent news about fraud
        [] in the generic medication sector confirms a trend we have been seeing in the clinic for years… generic minoxidil and generic finasteride often do not work as well as expected and seem to have a higher incidence of reported side effects. A quality-compounded prescription product can reduce side effects and improve efficacy—that’s the whole idea of compounding.

        For accuracy, 82M has ALWAYS cost ~$80/month plus shipping when you get the compliance-tracking bottles (one 15ml bottle per week). Topical finasteride “Formula 82F” is a little more, ~$100/mo. A lifetime of HairCheck measurements and HairCam dermoscopy are included with the costs so you can determine how well it’s working and where. Keep in mind that most “local derms” have no idea how to measure or track your hair loss/hair growth over time or even have a way to take standardized photos unless they’ve taken a medical HairCoach class or similar.
        I would predict the costs of 82M to rise only slowly in the future, not dramatically. The proprietary “magic” is not just the ingredient list, but rather the tricky emulsification process of how to combine and stabilize the ingredients without propylene glycol.

        If you are highly price-sensitive and don’t want to track your progress with treatment, you can always opt for doing otc rogaine or generic minoxidil at home. Just keep in mind that over 76% of consumers do not apply rogaine properly. There is an application video for 82M which helps patients understand how to properly apply minoxidil.

        [Regarding FDA-cleared Zerona, that was about 15yrs ago I believe, and it did reduce circumference, but I agree not as much as today’s cryolipolysis devices, and it wasn’t permanent and NEVER for weight loss. People DID like losing a few inches in just two weeks without surgery or side effects, however. We still have the device, actually, and patients do return for the treatment. (There are no studies I’m aware of, but we think it works even better when combined with a keto diet, intermittent fasting or a 5-day fast-mimicking diet like ProLon because it’s releasing fat from the adipose cells through the transient creation of micropores in the cellular membrane.)
        Here’s the original science for the body and the arms I was one of the first to have it in the country outside of the clinical trials. The backstory is that we actually got it on a whim because at the time Erchonia made the only portable cordless rechargeable hand-held laser for hair regrowth—which worked great—far better than the laser combs/brushes available at the time. A local plastic surgeon was performing the clinical trials for Erchonia and we knew a few patients who were getting results well before the FDA gave the nod.]

        Thank you again for your comments.
        To Your Hair’s Health,
        Alan J Bauman, MD
        Boca Raton, Florida

          1. Andy, get a prescription for minox 5-7%+ tretinoin 0.01% from your doctor and the contact c-pharmacy in melbourne.
            Best minox i have ever used

              1. Yeh they make it for you.
                Tretinoin is a prescription medecine so you will need to gwt a prescription from a doctor. Ask for a prescription for 5-7% minoxidil with 0.01% tretinoin hair lotion.
                Closest thing you could have made without a prescription is minoxidil with 0.5% retinol.

        1. M82 or whatever you call it is a rip off. 80 bucks a bottle?? 82F 100bucks a bottle! WTF! Highway robbery!
          You can source all the raw ingredients from China and make your own topical which is 99% as effective and much much cheaper! And you’re not a prisoner to some doctor or company that might discontinue the product or raise the price!

  6. Alan Baumen in the house!…what’s your take on follica Alan? When do you see it available to the public? And in your opinion, what will be the next approved legit treatment to come to market? Thanks Alan!

  7. the new drug will be a new type of finasteride, with fewer side effects and with a bit of viagra inside … we will all go around electrified with frizzy hair and a mega permanent erection;)

  8. Aclaris

    “AGA-201 Topical – This ongoing Phase 2 open-label clinical trial is evaluating the safety and efficacy of ATI-502, a topical JAK1/3 inhibitor, on the regrowth of hair in 31 patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as male/female pattern hair loss. 6-month data are expected during the second quarter of 2019 and 12-month data are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019. If the results from this trial are positive, Aclaris expects to initiate an additional Phase 2 trial of ATI-502 for the topical treatment of AGA in the first half of 2020.”

    1. John Doe,
      Excellent info!

      “If the results are positive”… which means they don’t know if it’ll work… which is why this trial is labeled “exploratory” on their website.

      Unfortunately, if they don’t know by now if it works, I think that’s a bad sign. That said, we should just be grateful that they see reason enough to experiment, and we should hear some news in the next month or so. I’m very much looking forward to that news, one way or the other. Now is the time to pray and do positive rituals. Again, great info. Thanks!

  9. Is histogen dead in the water? It still seems promising last year with the phase three trials in mexico. Anyone have any updates?

  10. Tretinoin has definitely always helped me. If i use generic minox it takes hours to dry, i will run my hand through my hair and see 30 hairs on my hand. Minoxidil and tretinoin i do the same thing and i might have one hair on my hand.
    There are studies that show minox+tretinoin once a day is as effective as just minox twice a day.

    I have also tried high dose of retinol instead of tretinoin. The mix was 5%minox+0.5%retinol. That also works extremely well.

    I have been offered a new mix of minox 7%+tretinoin 0.01%+ ketoconazole 0.8%
    I am interested in trying it but my current mix of minox and tretinoin works so well i dont shed at all. I dont have any scalp problems anymore and my hairline is looking very strong. I will find some before and after photos so you can all see how effective minox and tretinoin is for me.

    I do also think that the grass wont grow if there is no nutrients in the soil. I supplement with amino acids high in sulfur, b+c vitamins and zinc.

    Its important to remember to use tretinoin only at night in the summer months. The rest of the year you can use it twice a day

    1. @Quentin
      where u get the combo products from? or anyone knows where to get them?? I really wanna try it too. Thanks

      1. You will have to go to a gp or dermatologist and as them for a prescription and get a compounsing pharmacy to make it for you. Make sure you find a compounding pharmacy that specialises in skin care and hair regrowth. I can give you the name of a great one here in australia, they might ship it to you but it is not cheap.

    2. Hi mate, I live in Melb also and have contacted cpharmacy after reading your post. He has told me to get a prescription for 0.02% retinoic acid and 7.5% minox. Just wondering if this is what your currently using and how it’s all going??

    1. Amino acids: arginine, aspartic acid, glycine, alanine, seine valine, threonine, isoleucine, histidine, phenylalanine. Not sure of the quantities to be honest. It just says 8g daily of amino acid mix. Be careful of taking arginine if you get cold sores.. I have to take lysine to block the arginine at the moment. I will tell them to remove the arginine in the next batch.
      1.2g of acid free vitamin c. Mix of b vitamins and 900mcg of biotin.
      There is some minerals too, cant think off the top of my head.

      To be honest i have tried 4 different compounding pharmacies for my minox+tretinoin formulas. They all use different vehicles (one used 10%pg and 90%alcohol, one used 50%pg and 50%alcohol, one used 30%pg 50%alcohol and 20%purified water and im not sure about the other) the vehicle makes a huge huge difference. Minoxidil will crystalize if not mixed properly with the vehicle. There is different types of acids that can be added to stabalize the mixture. Citric acid seems to make the formula extremely stable. However i felt like the one with citric acid may have killed off some of the tretinoin. Even at 0.02% tretinoin i felt hardly and stinging, where as other formulas i feel alot of stinging at 0.01% tretinoin.
      The more pg the more greasy.

      1. @Quentin: so which of the vehicle ratios are you using with the best results? What are the percentages for PG and alcohol (and purified water if it’s also present)? Thanks.

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