By April Harrison MPAS, PA-C
Talk to any dermatology professional and they will all say you should be using a retinoid. But why? Retinols and retinoids, or vitamin A creams, have some remarkable benefits when used regularly. Retinols are available over-the-counter and more potent versions at doctors’ offices. Retinoids are available by prescription only. But why are they beneficial?
*Increased cell turnover. They do the exfoliating for you by sloughing off the top dead skin cell layer, improving the texture and vibrancy of the skin.
*Stimulation of collagen production. We lose collagen as we age and retinoids and retinols are scientifically proven to increase it. This results in shrinking pores and reduced fine lines and wrinkles.
*Reduction in comedones and acne. This is how it all began – tretinoin (a retinoid) was originally studied to treat acne and was proven to be a powerful, effective treatment. It cleans out pores reducing the occurrence of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and thereby reducing acne.
*Brown spot lightener. By increasing cell turnover and suppressing production of melanin, freckles and other brown spots lighten or disappear.
*Reverse sun damage. By reducing the production of abnormal skin cells, retinoids can decrease the incidence of precancerous skin growths.
So are retinols and retinoids the same? While they are not interchangeable, they do offer the same benefits. Retinols, the over-the-counter formulations, are gentler but can take longer to see benefits. Prescription retinoids are more irritating but faster acting. An ideal go-between is doctor-dispensed retinols which can be obtained without a prescription but have clinical trials proving their effectiveness. In fact, for patients who have never tried a topical vitamin A cream before, I like to start them on a retinol such as Revision Skincare’s Retinol Complete or SkinMedica’s Retinol Complex. This month our handpicked retinols are 15%!