Dr. Horton here again with my Skin Care Tips for 2021. Let’s talk about Vitamin A derivatives, the retinoids, and retinol. You may recognize Retin-A, aka topical tretinoin, a mainstay in the treatment of acne as a retinoid. For years skin experts have recognized the benefits of tretinoin in minimizing the signs of aging. When used regularly the skin is brighter, thicker with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoids and retinol accelerated skin cell turnover and thicken skin, increasing collagen production and reducing abnormal skin cells ( abnormal keratinocytes and melanocytes), helping to offset photodamage from solar radiation. Pay attention to the collagen production aspect of this group of products as we want to drive collagen production to slow down the aging process.
Vitamin A derivatives differ in potency as well as how well they penetrate the layers of the skin. Our skin functions as a barrier to keep things out, so penetration of the skin is an important feature for these products to work effectively. Another key feature is how the product is formulated- what other ingredients affect the penetration of the Vitamin A derivatives and how do these compounds assembled into a product behave together in causing any unwanted side effects like dry, red, itchy skin.
Retinols are available in many over-the-counter products but may not have the potency and penetration to be effective. Some of the acne retinoids are intentionally drying and others have been formulated for the express purpose of mitigating photoaging. I recommend working with a trained skin health expert to start and progressively increase the potency of retinol or retinoid in your skincare regimen. Periodically I recommend switching up your Vitamin A derivatives to present a different molecule to your skin cells which do get tolerant to some degree. In our ZO Skin Health line, we alternate between Refissa and products that contain retinol. In our Vivant line, Dr. Fulton discovered that Vitamin A palmitate, although less potent retinol, penetrates very well and is a very effective Vitamin A derivate. So at the end of the day, I recommend using a retinoid/retinol that you can tolerate 4- 7 nights a week. Apply these products after cleansing, toning, and applying any growth factor serums ( next blog topic). Here’s to healthy skin so that you can look great at every age!