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Retinols and Retinoids- a vitamin A super power

anti-aging baby skin care beautiful skin dermatologist secret retinoids retinols skin expert skin health vitamin a youthful skin Jan 09, 2023

When people ask me, 'what’s the secret to beautiful skin?' my first response is sun protection. But my second answer may surprise you…if you guessed retinoids than you are right! This vitamin A cream has a host of benefits for the skin including increasing cell turnover, removing discoloration, brightening the complexion, opening up pores and increasing collagen formation. Sound too good to be true? I’d have a hard time believing it too if it weren’t for abundant research and studies showing their benefits, and I can also speak from personal experience!

You might be asking yourself, so what are retinols and retinoids?

They are are powerful vitamin A derivatives that can be used topically on the skin and can be found in over the counter products (retinols). Retinoids are prescription strength (commonly called Retin-A and tretinoin).

What do these creams do?

A lot! They work to promote cell turnover and increase collagen formation in the skin. They also improve fine lines and wrinkles, increase skin elasticity, and can even out dyspigmentation. This is why it is so popular for anti-aging and my go-to night cream. It also unclogs pores and comedones (the root cause of acne) which is why we use it in younger people with acne and black heads.

Retinols and retinoids are not without side effects however, but when you know how to apply them correctly, you can often minimize the effects. While retinols/retinoids are highly effective in sloughing off dead skin cells, opening up pores, improving pigmentary changes, and improving overall skin tone and texture, they can however be irritating to the skin and cause dryness. It's best to start with a low dose every other night and work up to using it nightly, and at higher strengths. It may take 3-8 months to see improvements in your skin so don’t give up too soon! You’ll also see results faster with prescription strength products.

So how do you use a retinol/retinoid? 

It should be applied to clean, dry skin at night. Only a pea-size amount is needed to cover the face adequately. Go ahead and apply to you neck, décolletage and back of hands as well. But beware that using too much will only increase irritation and dryness and not give you better or faster results. To combat the dryness, use every other night or add a moisturizer to areas that are particularly dry. Some people use a ‘sandwich’ technique of applying a moisturizer before and after applying the retinol/retinoid if their skin is very dry or irritated.

Remember that retinol/retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun light so be sure to wear a sunscreen with SPF 30+ during the day. You’ll also want to protect the investment you’ve made in your skin, so seek shade, cover up and wear your SPF! And sit back and enjoy all the compliments you’ll be receiving on your beautiful, glowing skin!

Check out my podcast for more info. New episodes released every Tuesday!


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