There’s a New Irritation-Less Retinoid That’s About to Change Acne Treatments Forever

Photo: Getty Images/ Klaus Vedfelt
Major news, my fellow acne-prone peeps: The FDA has just given the green light to a brand-new acne treatment that could change the game for those with more sensitive or irritable skin. It's called Arazlo, and is a lotion containing a vitamin A derivative called tazarotene that’s meant to give you all the benefits of a retinoid... minus the irritation.

The non-irritating retinol lotion targets acne vulgaris, according to a report from MD Mag, and went through two large clinical trials that both showed impressive results (AKA clearer skin). A total of 1614 patients with moderate to severe acne were tested, and the Arazlo was overall "well-tolerated” while producing statistically significant changes in their acne. Compared to Tazorac Cream 0.1%—another tazarotene treatment on the market—the Arazlo showed half of the most common negative skin reactions people experience with retinoids: site pain, dryness, exfoliation, and other irritations. Yet the new lotion still resulted in reduced inflammation and skin lesions.

"The active ingredient tazarotene is a cousin to tretinoin," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist (tretinoin is a common prescription-strength tretinoid). "This is the first time tazarotene has become available in a lotion formulation, and comes in a specifically formulated base designed to minimize irritation and enhance effectiveness."

This is a huge deal. As I, and anyone else who's battled stubborn acne, know, lots of retinols out there—and prescription acne treatments in general—can be super frustrating to use when all they’re doing is replacing your pimples with dry, flakey, red skin. According to Emil Tanghetti, MD, a lead investigator in the Arazlo study and board-certified dermatologist, this is why many of his patients don't stick with topical acne treatments long enough to see their true efficacy (been there). "Tazarotene has typically been reserved only for patients with severe acne, but offering it in a well-tolerated lotion formulation that includes hydrating agents can help more patients with most types of acne take advantage of its efficacy," he said in a statement.

The good news is that you don't have to wait forever to get your hands on this game-changing acne treatment—it's expected to be available in the first half of 2020. Hopefully, this will be the first in a new frontier of acne treatments and non-irritating retinol options that don't come hand in hand with all the negative side effects... which is much needed, considering about 50 million Americans suffer from acne.

Check out why dermatologists think everyone should be using a retinol, below:

For more help on your acne journey, here's how to create an entire skin-care routine for acne-prone skin. And these are Dr. Pimple Popper's go-to acne remedies that she recommends to her patients. 

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