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Where to Buy Retin-A Cream Online

Wednesday 12 June 2024
6 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. What is Retin-A Cream?

II. Retin-A vs. Over-The-Counter Retinol

III. Where to Buy Retin-A Cream

IV. Where to Buy Tretinoin Cream

V. How to Choose an Online Canadian Pharmacy

VI. Conclusion

For decades, Retin-A cream has been a popular solution for treating various skin conditions, from acne and fine lines to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. [1] However, with a standard 45-gram tube costing nearly $300 in the U.S., many individuals seek more cost-effective solutions without sacrificing safety or effectiveness.

In this article, we will explore options for purchasing Retin-A, compare it to over-the-counter retinol creams, and guide you through the process of choosing a reputable online pharmacy.

What is Retin-A Cream?

Retin-A cream is a prescription medication used to treat a variety of skin concerns, such as:

  • Acne
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Rough skin
  • Hyperpigmentation [1]

Retin-A cream contains the active ingredient tretinoin, a topical retinoid that comes in three different prescription strengths:

  • 0.025%
  • 0.05%
  • 0.1% [2]

Tretinoin works in a few ways to improve skin:

  • Speeds up cell turnover: Cell turnover is the rate at which your skin naturally sheds its outer layer of dead cells and generates new ones. Normally, this turnover process takes 40 to 56 days, [3] but tretinoin shortens it. By accelerating cell turnover, tretinoin helps clear away excess oil, bacteria, and dead cells that can clog pores and cause acne. [1]
  • Stimulates collagen production: Tretinoin binds to receptors in your body called retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and retinoid X receptors (RXRs). This helps stimulate the production of a protein called procollagen, which then converts to collagen in the skin. The increased collagen helps reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. [1]

Retin-A vs. Over-The-Counter Retinol

a woman getting retin-a from pharmacist

Retin-A is a topical medication that can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription. However, you may have noticed various over-the-counter retinol products available for purchase without a prescription.

While Retin-A and retinol are both vitamin A derivatives used to treat similar skin concerns, [4] their key difference lies in their active ingredients.

  • Retinol is found in many non-prescription skincare items. Retinol is not directly active on the skin. Instead, it requires conversion into retinoic acid by enzymes in the skin before it can work. This process is inconsistent, taking anywhere from weeks to months. Results also depend on each person's unique skin chemistry. For these reasons, retinol’s effects may take up to six months to manifest.
  • Retin-A contains tretinoin, a retinoid that is already in the active retinoic acid form. This means Retin-A can get to work right away without needing conversion. Retin-A is, therefore, more potent and fast-acting than retinol, delivering visible improvements in as little as six to twelve weeks of continued use. [4]

Retinoids like the tretinoin found in Retin-A require a prescription due to their potency and potential side effects if misused. A prescription ensures the treatment suits your needs, allows a doctor to properly guide you on usage and dosage, and considers your medical history and any medications you’re on to avoid interactions or adverse effects.

Where to Buy Retin-A Cream

After your doctor provides a prescription, you have options for where to purchase your Retin-A cream. While your local pharmacy may be the most convenient option, you can also look into buying Retin-A online from a Canadian pharmacy like Canada Pharmacy Depot. This route may offer significant savings compared to U.S. pharmacies.

For example, a 45-gram tube of Retin-A 0.05% costs around $287 at many U.S. pharmacies. In comparison, Canada Pharmacy Depot sells a 40-gram tube of Retin-A 0.05% for only $43.

The reason for the significant price difference is that Canada regulates prescription drug prices to ensure medications remain affordable for all citizens. [5] Because of these regulations, online Canadian pharmacies can pass on substantial savings to their U.S. customers.

Both Canada and the U.S. have rigorous rules to guarantee all drugs meet the highest standards of safety and effectiveness. Due to these thorough processes, you can feel confident buying medications from either location.

Where to Buy Tretinoin Cream

Tretinoin cream is the generic equivalent of the popular brand-name medication Retin-A. [2] While Retin-A can be quite expensive, tretinoin offers patients a more affordable way to achieve the same results.

After getting a prescription for tretinoin cream from your dermatologist, you have the option of filling it at a local pharmacy or through an online Canadian pharmacy.

Patients often find tretinoin cream is offered at a significantly lower cost from online Canadian pharmacies compared to U.S. pharmacies. For example, a 20-gram tube of 0.05% tretinoin cream costs around $80 at a U.S. pharmacy but only $45 from a reputable online Canadian pharmacy.

The lower prices of Canadian pharmacies are due to Canada’s regulation of prescription drug costs to ensure affordability. [5] Online Canadian pharmacies can pass on these savings to their American customers. 

Rest assured, generic drugs like tretinoin cream must meet the same high standards as brand-name drugs before they can be approved. In fact, nearly 90% of prescriptions in the U.S. are filled with safe, effective generic medications. [6]

How to Choose an Online Canadian Pharmacy

a pharmacist using a digital tablet in a pharmacy

When choosing a pharmacy for your healthcare needs, one important factor to consider is certification by a regulatory body. In the case of online Canadian pharmacies, the organization you can rely on is the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA).

CIPA-verified pharmacies adhere to strict regulations that guarantee the safety and legality of an online Canadian pharmacy. If you see an online pharmacy carrying a CIPA seal, you can be confident that the medications you receive will be safe and effective. In fact, since its establishment in 2002, CIPA has maintained a flawless safety record. [7]

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research verified the safety of CIPA-approved pharmacies. Researchers tested over 300 samples of brand-name drugs from CIPA-approved and U.S. pharmacies. They found that medications from both were safe, but CIPA pharmacies offered prices 54.8% lower than U.S. pharmacies. [8]

Currently, only 49 online Canadian pharmacies are CIPA-approved. Unfortunately, some unapproved pharmacies falsely claim CIPA approval by putting the CIPA seal on their website. You can easily check if a pharmacy is really CIPA-approved in two ways:

  • Click the CIPA seal on the pharmacy’s website: This takes you to a page on CIPA’s website confirming the pharmacy’s approval. You can try this now by clicking the CIPA seal at the bottom of this page.
  • CIPA lists all approved pharmacies on their website: You can check this list anytime to verify a pharmacy’s status.


Obtaining Retin-A or tretinoin cream can be a straightforward process when you have a prescription. You can choose to fill the prescription at a U.S. pharmacy or an online Canadian pharmacy such as Canada Pharmacy Depot. The latter offers the added convenience of placing your order entirely online and having your medication shipped straight to your doorstep. Plus, purchasing from a reputable online Canadian pharmacy can also mean more affordable medications.

However, it's important to exercise caution and do your due diligence when selecting an online pharmacy. To ensure your safety and the quality of the medication you receive, make sure the pharmacy has trustworthy third-party certifications like a CIPA approval, and they ask for a valid prescription.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health informational. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.