Facial Tolerability of Topical Retinoid Therapy
November 2004 | Volume 3 | Issue 6 | Original Article | 641 | Copyright © November 2004
James Leyden MD, Gary Grove PhD, Charles Zerweck PhD
The facial tolerability of various topical retinoids was evaluated in 253 healthy volunteers in a series of split-face, randomized, investigator-
masked studies—all conducted at the same site by the same investigator. Four variables were evaluated to determine if they
influenced tolerability—retinoid concentration, formulation vehicle, skin sensitivity, and individual retinoid. Lower retinoid concentrations
were associated with less irritation. Vehicle influenced tolerability but whether a gel or cream formulation was better tolerated
varied from retinoid to retinoid. Tolerability was superior on normal skin than “sensitive skin.” On normal skin, tazarotene
cream was better tolerated than tretinoin cream whereas adapalene and tretinoin microsponge gels were better tolerated than
tazarotene gel. On sensitive skin, tazarotene and adapalene creams were better tolerated than tretinoin cream whereas adapalene gel
was better tolerated than tazarotene gel. Retinoid concentration, vehicle, skin sensitivity, and retinoid can all affect facial tolerability.
Skin vulnerability may be the most important factor.