Since tretinoin is a prescription product, some people might be looking for an over-the-counter option that works similarly. But it’s important to note that no OTC product is as effective as tretinoin for overcoming the signs of aging, acne, and hyperpigmentation, Riyaz says. “It is truly the gold standard. Additional benefits it provides that make it superior to other resurfacing products is that it bolsters the skin barrier by normalizing enzymatic activity, which is needed for healthy cell division (mitosis) and rebuilding the upper layers of the skin (epidermis) with stronger, denser, healthier cells,” Riyaz explains. “Tretinoin also helps restore the moisture balance of the skin by maintaining hydration, reducing evaporation of water, and increasing healthy lipids in the membranes.”

But if you want to try something similar to Retin-A before you get a prescription, Imahiyerobo-Ip says you can start with over-the-counter retinol products. “Retinol is a weaker derivative of vitamin A, which is readily available in stores. If you are new to retinol products, I still recommend starting with a pea-sized amount three nights a week and work up to nightly application,” she says.

And since they’re weaker, they’re often more palatable and easier to use than the prescription versions. “The characteristic dryness, redness, scaling, and irritation that is associated with this class of products occurs less drastically with OTC retinols when compared to physician-dispensed retinols or prescription retinoids,” Hartman says. “Prescription retinoids are indicated for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Retinols, retinals, and retinoids all help with anti-aging and discoloration.”

Take a look at some OTC options below.