Retinoids are one of the best products when it comes to skin care. In fact, this type of skin care product is in a class by itself when compared to the numerous unproven wrinkle erasers on the market.
What other formulas have decades of studies showing that the formula actually reduces wrinkles? None that I can think of! What I can tell you is that there are many products on the market that promise amazing results; however, these products cost a lot of money. These products are often advertised in health and style magazines hoping to grab the attention of middle-aged successful women who are eager to look younger no matter the cost.
These miracle creams are no more than snake oils of the past. They promise that they will restore youth, plump the skin and remove all traces of aging. Women are falling for these schemes no matter what the price tag is, as long as their wrinkles can be permanently erased.
Then, hundreds of dollars later, the woman’s wrinkles remain and the woman buys the next product that promises results. I sit shaking my head in disbelief and amazement that women are so desperate to look young that they waste thousands of dollars on products that simply do not work. These women dream of a wrinkle-free future.
Why are women wasting money on these products, when there is a formula that actually works? First women may not know that retinoids do actually work. Secondly, these companies may be using marketing gimmicks and tricks to fool unsuspecting, desperate women into buying into the dream of youth in a bottle.
To find out what really works. I did some research on retinoids before I took the plunge into experimenting and using retinoids on myself.
What are Retinoids?
The first thing I wanted to learn was what are retinoids. Retinoids are chemical compounds that are related to vitamin A. Retinoids can be absorbed from food. The most common retinoid rich foods are animal proteins. These provide the body with retinyl esters. The body then hydrolyzes retinyl esters into retinol. Retinol, tretinoin, alitretinoin, retinal, and isotretinoin are known as first-generation retinoids. Second generation forms of retinoids are etretinate and acitretin. Finally, third generation retinoids include tazarotene, adapalene and bexarotene.
Originally, the FDA only approved topical retinoids for the treatment of acne. However, it was soon discovered that topical retinoids improved the skin in a number of ways. Currently, there are three retinoids available by prescription. These include tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita, Atralin and Retin-A Micro), tazarotene (Tazorac and Avage) and adapalene (Differin). In addition to prescription formulas, there are a variety of over the counter topical retinol creams available. These formulas are less potent than the prescription creams.
How do retinoids work?
One way that retinoids work is by increasing the thickness of the skin. Retinoids thin the outermost flexible, strong and dry layer of skin called the stratum corneum. However, retinoids thicken the epidermis and the dermis located underneath. This results in skin that is more youthful and wrinkle free.
Retinoids are powerful exfoliators. These formulas help remove the dead skin cells located on the surface of the skin. Additionally, retinoids help increase the turnover rate of keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are the major cells found in the epidermis. They help cells move from the lower basal layer to the epidermis. When keratinocytes are formed in the basal layer, the top layer of cells is exfoliated naturally. Retinoids speed up the process to help rid the skin from old cells that make you look older. When old cells are removed, new healthier cells are exposed, which help you look more radiant and youthful.
Retinoids also increase hyaluronic acid production and collagen. Hyaluronic acid and collagen help hydrate the skin and give it a firmer appearance. Additionally, retinoids stimulate dermal fibroblasts. Dermal fibroblasts are cells that make up the framework of tissues within the body and replaces disorganized fibers of collagen with organized new fibres. Finally, angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels in the body. These new blood vessels improve the blood flow and are what cause that beautiful rosy glow that is reported by those who use tretinoin.
How can retinoids improve my skin?
After reading all the technical jargon, you may be wondering how retinoids can improve your skin. Retinoids can be used to treat acne, improve wound healing and dramatically decrease the signs of aging.
Participants who had been using 0.05 percent tretinoin for 6 months were asked to complete a self-assessment. Of those questioned, 83 percent stated that their skin had improved. With continued use, retinoid can erase both fine lines and deep wrinkles as the dermis and epidermis thicken. It should be noted that the effects were not just cosmetic in nature. Retinoid actually changes the underlying structure of the skin and actually repairs it.
How Should I Use Retinoids?
Prescription retinoids are available in several strengths, including 0.025 percent, 0.05 percent and 0.1 percent. Retinoids can cause skin irritation, especially during the first six weeks. Therefore, it can take some time to get used to prescription strength retinoids. The most common symptoms include itching, burning, redness, exfoliation and stinging. However, it should be noted that even the highest formulation are well tolerated. Even with years of continued use, there have been no reports of skin abnormalities. This means it is safe for long-term use.
Many people begin using the 0.05 percent formula. If it is irritating, they can switch to the weaker 0.025 percent formula. For those with sensitive skin, I recommend starting with the 0.025 percent formula and gradually moving to stronger formulas. Or, if you prefer, try using the product twice a week or every other day for a few weeks. Then, once you skin has become accustomed to retinoids, you can begin using daily.
Many studies have shown that 0.05 percent tretinoin has provided good results; however, stronger formulas may be more effective. Retinol in this strength generally causes minimal irritation; however, it also produces weaker results. One study suggests that isotretinoin, which can be taken orally or used as a topical gel, may be more harmful than tretinoin. Retinoid gels tend to be stronger than creams. This means that a 0.05 percent gel may cause more irritation, yet be more effective than a 0.05 percent cream.
The best time to apply retinoids is late in the evening or at night. Some believe retinoids can increase your susceptibility to photodamage; however, I have not found any evidence to support this. However, retinoids degrade in sunlight. So, it is best to apply at nighttime. Finally, for best results and to help avoid irritation, wait at least 15 to 20 minutes after washing your face before you apply a retinoid topical cream or gel.