Trifarotene – Aklief

Trifarotene / Aklief

Best used: PMCaution: Sensitive Skin, RosaceaBest for Acne, face & truncal
Comments: TGA & FDA approved for truncal & face acneMode of action: RetinoidScience Score:



What is trifarotene?

This is the very latest generation four retinoid for the treatment of both facial & truncal acne. It was released in the United States in 2020, & in Australia in 2021. The product is made by Galderma, who also makes Differin, Epiduo, & the Cetaphil range of products.

Trifarotene, unlike adapalene, is prescription only. It comes in a 75 ml container & costs around $90 AUD. This retinoid can be prescribed by GPs & cosmetic GPs.

How prevalent is truncal acne?

Very. According to studies, truncal acne affects over 50% of patients with facial acne. In most cases it is chronic & can lead to permanent acne scars. The most common type of acne scarring involving extra-facial areas are atrophic & hypertrophic scars. PIH or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is almost always associated with acne in darker skin types. Hence why it is so important to treat acne early & effectively.

What is unique about this retinoid?

If we are talking about actual research & approvals, this is the first topical retinoid approved for the management of acne on the face & trunk. Approval has been granted by the FDA in 2019 & TGA in 2021. Australia is only behind by two years this time around (up to 20 years for some drugs). Another unique point of difference is the fact that trifarotene is a specific gamma RAR agonist. This means a low concentration goes a long way.

How do I use it?

As with all retinoids, go slow. Start with application every second night & increase as tolerated. Unlike other retinoids, Akleif has no direct phototoxicity warning, however given the fact that it can compact the stratum corneum, it can indirectly make you more sensitive to the sun.

Compatible ingredients include hyaluronic acid, moisturizers, niacinamide, & humectants. Caution with AHAs, BHA washes, & ascorbic acid.

Davin’s Viewpoint on Trifarotene

It has been twenty years since a retinoid has been introduced to treat acne. Aklief/Trifarotene is a fourth-generation retinoid that has been added to the retinoid group consisting of tretinoin, adapalene, & tazarotene. Is the fact that it is FDA & TGA approved for the treatment of truncal acne the ground breaker? No. I think not. I do believe that other retinoids will give similar results, if not faster (I am talking about Epiduo as BPO has a faster onset of action compared to retinoids).

Where Aklief stands out is the gamma RAR specificity & the fact that it comes in a 75 ml container, hence a little goes a long way. Other retinoids come in smaller volumes & this may be impractical for larger surface areas. In Australia, the cost is around $90, half of which is covered by health insurance. Hence the actual cost is around a dollar a day. Pretty good value.

Disclaimer: I do not treat acne. My skill sets are concentrated on the management of objectively severe acne scars. For medical management of acne, consult my colleagues at Clinic Cutis.

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