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Retinols, Retin-A, Tretinoin…What’s the Difference?

One of the questions I get asked all the time is “what is retinol?” and “what does it do?”

Simply put, retinol is a fancy name for Vitamin A.  It comes in many different forms from generic (tretinoin) to brand name (Retin A) to a less potent form that can be found over the counter (retinol).   Vitamin A is known to unclog pores, boost collagen production, and increase cellular turnover which helps to even out skin discolorations.

Years ago physicians prescribed Retin A for acne but soon realized that their patients were seeing remarkable results beyond clearer skin.  Their skin was noticeably less wrinkled, their complexion brighter, and they saw overall improvement in skin texture.  Sounds like a no brainer, right?  Well, with any prescription medication there are side effects; retinoids can cause dryness, itching, redness, and flaking of the skin.  I recommend that my clients ease into a retinol product such as an over the counter retinol of .5 or 1.0 to start if they have never used a retinoid before to see how their skin will react to it.   Once their skin becomes acclimated to the product, they can step up to a higher strength.

When will I see results?

If you begin using an over the counter product you can expect to see results in about 12 weeks or so.  Feel you can jump right into prescription strength? You’ll start seeing results in approximately 6 weeks.

Some tips to before starting a retinoid routine:

1) Always apply your retinoid product at night, the ingredient in the product is sensitive to sunlight.

2) Continue to use SPF of at least 30 everyday.

3) Do not use any benzoyl peroxide or alpha hydroxy acid products as this will deactivate the retinoid.

4) Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use a retinoid product.

5) Only use a pea size amount for your entire face, a little goes a long way.

6) Always let your skin care therapist know that you are on a retinoid product before getting any type of treatment.

 

 

 

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