Many people live in a continuous love-hate relationship with retinoids.

They like its effects on the skin, especially long-term benefits but dislike the side effects that often come with its usage: irritation, redness, inflammation, peeling etc., especially at the beginning when the skin is acclimating to it.

However, it is an ingredient that has substantial scientific research to sustain claims of improving the overall physiology of the skin with a history that dates from the 1950’s initially acclaimed for the phenomenal effect that it had on acne patients. Later, in the 1980’s it was revealed as the new gold standard for anti-aging for its capacity to work at a cellular level to improve skin functions and self-repairing abilities, improving lines and wrinkles and refining the skin texture for a more youthful appearance.

It is very important to first understand the different categories available in the market:

Retinoids are vitamin A compounds and derivatives of natural and synthetic origen and within them there are two main categories.

Prescription strength (retinoic acid, tretinoin, available in cream and gel formulations) and OTC formulas containing (retinol and various types of retinol derivatives often described as: Retinyl Acetate, Retinyl Linoleate, Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Proprionate; regularly found in many cosmetic products). The two categories are often alleged to be similar, but the main difference is that retinol is eventually converted into retinoic acid. The skin uses vitamin A as retinoic acid, so the prescription strength formulas are readily available to be used by the skin. On the other hand, Retinol is considered gentler on the skin but it takes longer time to reach the results of the prescription counterpart, since the skin has to convert it into retinoic acid, although it is still very effective if patience is not an issue to you.

Without further due, let’s take a closer look to some of the almost magical attributes of retinoids?

  • Encourages skin cell regeneration. This is a strong characteristic because it maintains skin normal functioning, thus preserving a more youthful performance.
  • Improves and supports normal skin tone helping to lighten hyperpigmentation from sun damage, post inflammatory and hormonal induced like melasma.
  • Stimulates the production of collagen and elastin
  • Minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • With newer cells exposed and increased collagen and elastin production as well as hydration levels, the skin looks smoother and the appearance of pores is also improved.
  • Reduces and prevents the formation of blackheads, whiteheads (millias) and overall pore congestion.
  • Balances sebum production (skin natural humectant).

 

But just like everything else in life..

Things are not all white or all black. Retinoids also have their dark side and must be used with care to achieve  full benefits without causing any harm to the skin.

Here are some recommendations and important factors to consider to get the best use and results from retinoids:

  • It is not an ingredient that should be used if you are trying to become pregnant, if you are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding, in high doses it has been associated with birth defects.
  • A slow approach is better; this allows the skin to acclimate to it and minimize side effects, such as those mentioned earlier.
  • A small amount is enough to do the trick. A safer way to start is by using it every third night for a week or two, than every other night for a week and eventually every night or according to your physician recommendations. The ingredient is so effective that even when you use it a few times a week, you will still see results.
  • Apply it when the skin is fully dry to minimize risk of irritation
  • Keep it in a dark place to avoid the product from oxidizing and losing effect.
  • Do not mix with any exfoliating acids or other types of exfoliation. With that, I mean from products and also waxing, threading, sugaring, skin treatments like chemical peels or microdermabrasion etc. And if you still want to take a chance to do it, please go to a professional and let them know that you are using Retin-A. The skin will literally peel off and can leave a scar or result in post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. If you are having a treatment done it is regularly recommended to suspend the use of Retin-A at least 4 to 7 days prior to the procedure depending on the treatment to avoid negative side effects.
  • Retinoic acid has also proven to improve the appearance of stretch marks, especially when they are in the initial state ( reddish color).

SOME HELPFUL TIPS:

The standard recommendation of use for Retin-A is during your night time skincare routine. If you have dry skin, a good tip is to wait 20 minutes after the Retin-A application and apply a simple hydrating moisturizer, this will prevent excessive dryness.

Since the skin can become more sensitive and drier, I suggest that you include in your skincare routine other products containing ingredients to fortify your lipid barrier and increase hydration. Some great options are: hyaluronic acid, panthenol, ceramides, lipids, niacinamide. Anti-inflammatory ingredients are also great to minimize redness and irritation, like: aloe, allantoin and bisabolol.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP:

Because your skin becomes more sensitive to the sun when using retinoids, using a good formulated SUNSCREEN daily is crucial to prevent sun damage and to protect your new skin.

MY EXPERIENCE:

I like retinoids, the history is there. We know they work. I have been using them on and off for a long time and I find that it is an ingredient that if used with care you can get fantastic benefits from it.

In my case, I don’t mind being patient and for the sake of my skin, being so sensitive, I prefer to use retinol. I have tried Retin-A many times, but it has been too harsh for me, even the time- released formulations. My skin has its moments, and I normally must suspend its use when my skin begins to act up. I personally cannot tolerate it more than two to three times a week, but that is the perfect dosage for my skin. I see the difference and my skin does not become an angry mess. Your skin will be the judge as to how often is your magic formula.

If retinoids are in your list of favorite ingredients, I suggest you start using it at a lower strength and grow into a higher percentage considering your skin reactions, that will guide you to reach an adequate dosage and optimum result. Take into consideration though, that you must be persistent to achieve those results, using it sparingly just a few times a month is not enough to make a big difference.

Also, don’t feel discourage if you are not a retinoid person. There are many people that have tried it over and over and it simply is too aggressive for them to tolerate. There are other options now in skincare far less invasive and with no side effects, like peptides or stem cells that work through cellular communication to encourage the skin to respond to specific functions like: collagen stimulation, improving lines and wrinkles, cell repair, skin firming etc. without inducing negative reactions or making the skin sensitive to the sun. That’s why I included them in Zkin Fix Age Reversal Serum. I find them to be very effective and safe with no risks or side effects involved.

I believe that it is not about using everything or every trend that comes out there. As a matter of fact, I think that well chosen ingredients do much more than too many ingredients which at the end, there is a big chance that are fillers and irritants that won’t do much to improve the skin.

Let your skin decide. After all, your skin care is a journey of discovery. Experiment with care and enjoy all the steps.


Are you a fan of retinoids?

I would love to know how you feel about it and your personal experience.


Thank you very much for being here.

Until next time,

Dora Salazar

Medical Aesthetician

Founder of Zkin Fix Skincare