• The Best Retinoid Products - and Why You Should Use

    The Best Retinoid Products - and Why You Should Use

    What are retinoids?

    Retinoids are a type of vitamin A derivative that has been used in skin care since the 1970s. You are probably familiar with retinoids as they are the active ingredient advertised by the majority of people. Anti-aging products . The most famous product, Retin-A, is made from the retinoid tretinoin. It was developed by Dr. Albert Kligman, a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, in the late 60s. It has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an acne treatment. (Maybe you used it on acne that day.) Krigman and his colleague James Layden, M.D., noticed that Retin-A also improved wrinkles and skin tone in acne patients. Krigman eventually patented Renova, an emollient-based tretinoin. It was the first FDA-approved topical treatment for wrinkles and fine lines. That was about 18 years ago, and yet retinoids still play a starring role in everything from moisturizers and serums to eye and neck creams. How is it that something so old is still so new?

    Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, PhD, a New York City-based dermatologist, says there is no single class of ingredients that can rival the track record retinoids have for proven scientific results. Other experts are equally enthusiastic. Susan Weinkle, a dermatologist in Bradenton, Florida, calls herself a heavy lifter in retinoid skin care. It doesn't matter how much time or money you have, she tells her patients. Sunscreen And retinoids are the most important anti-aging agents to use, she says. This combo will cover all your skin needs: UV protection; smoother, tighter skin; more even tone. Less breakouts; and tighter pores.

    How are Retinol and Retinoid-Retinol Different?

    Retinol, on the other hand, is vitamin A and is found in foods and dietary supplements. It is important to the body for a number of reasons, including growth, development, good eyesight, and a strong immune system.

    How do retinoids work?

    Retinoids are amazing multi-taskers. Dr. Alexiades Armenakas says that by acting directly on the DNA of skin cells, they enhance many cellular functions that tend to slow down once you reach 30. For one thing, retinoids increase the metabolic turnover of cells, so the skin is constantly shedding damaged cells, and healthy skin is always what you see at the top. This increases radiance, says Dr. Weinkle. Retinoids also lighten and tighten the skin by thinning the top layer of skin, the stratum corneum, and thickening the second, smoother layer, the epidermis.

    But the benefits go beyond the superficial. According to Patricia Farris, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at Tulane University in New Orleans, retinoids promote the production of collagen (one of the skin's main support structures) and prevent its breakdown as it enters deeper skin layers. There is also evidence that retinoids promote the production of glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans are substances in the body that help hydrate the tissues. And wait a minute. Retinoids help remove dead skin cells, oil, and debris from the pores and reduce bloating. Retinoids may even reduce oil production - a boon to those prone to breakouts.

    Which Retinoid is Right for You?

    For first-timers, over-the-counter (OTC) formulations are the mildest and best way to start. The most common retinoids on these labels are retinol and retinyl palmitate, says Chris Stahl, director of research and development at Raffaello ResearchLaboratories in Torrance, Calif. (You may also see retinals, which are less commonly used. These ingredients are converted by the skin into retinoic acid, which does the magic.

    In contrast, the prescription retinoids include pure retinoic acid (or the related compound all-trans retinoic acid). Some experts estimate that these may be up to 20 times more potent than the over-the-counter varieties because retinoic acid is applied directly to the skin and does not lose its potency through conversion like OTC retinoids. Prescription retinoids are tretinoin (found in the Wrinkle Creams Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova, Atralin, Avita, and Avage), tazarotene (found in the Acne Cream Tazorac), and adapalene (found in Differin ) appear on the ingredients label as (found in Acne Cream Tazorac), and Adapalene (found in Differin).

    Higher levels may provide quicker benefits, says Stahl. But this may be accompanied by increased redness, dryness, peeling, and exfoliation, which are the most common side effects of retinoids.

    The OTC formulation may result in a lighter skin tone within a few days. Give it at least 6 weeks to smooth out fine lines. In most cases, results will level off in 6 months to a year. After that, consider moving on to something more potent, such as an OTC serum (layered under a retinoid cream) or prescription medication. If your skin is comfortable before 6 months and you need more dramatic results, consider progressing faster.

    Vitamin A tends to break down and lose its potency, so choose a formula labeled as stabilized or encapsulated that will not break down in the presence of other ingredients. Packaging is also important. Retinoids are sensitive to light, heat and oxygen, says Stahl, so look for an airtight system, such as plastic or aluminum tubing or an airless pump. Bottles don't keep retinoids fresh and effective.

    How to use retinoids for sensitive skin:.

    In addition to proper formulation, a smart regimen is key to optimizing results and minimizing irritation. Without that extra layer of dead skin, your newly exposed healthy cells may be vulnerable to sunburn. Therefore, it is best to apply retinoids only at night. (That is, unless you're using a day-specific formula. Of course, always apply an additional layer of broad spectrum sunscreen. Intensify the treatment gradually. With proper technique and regular use, the end result will be retinoids. This means that the retinoid is tolerated and can rise to higher concentrations more quickly. The method is as follows

    Wash your face with a regular cleanser before bedtime. Cleansers containing alpha hydroxy acid or salicylic acid are fine, but avoid unnecessary coarseness of granular varieties. Wait about 20 minutes before applying the retinoid to avoid stinging.

    Take a dime sized amount of retinoid product (less is more) and smooth it over your face, including around the eyes, neck, hands and décolleté.

    Follow up with your regular nighttime moisturizer. If you have sensitive skin, apply a moisturizer before the retinoid to reduce softness. Do not worry. It will not compromise the results.

    Can't tolerate burns? Wash off the retinoid after 15 minutes, suggests Dr. Alexiades Armenakas. He calls this the short contact method. This greatly increases comfort, but slightly decreases the benefits.

    Whatever the formula, use it twice a week for two weeks, then increase to three times a week. If you notice irritation, put it back on. You may work up to nightly applications. However, if your skin feels most comfortable three times a week, stay there.