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Retinoids were approved for the treatment of acne back in 1971 by prescription only. This vitamin A product reduced acne by preventing pores from clogging and reducing acne scarring. Skin doctors noticed that in addition to treating acne, retinoids improved skin tone and reduced fine lines and wrinkles. Another benefit of retinoids is reducing age spots. Retinoids are still prescribed to treat acne.
Retinols are weaker versions of retinoids that can be purchased in many over-the-counter skin creams and serums. As your skin ages, it loses its thickness because it produces less of a skin protein called collagen. Loss of collagen makes your skin thinner and drier, leading to fine wrinkles.
“Retinol removes dead skin cells from the upper skin and helps in stimulation and regeneration of collagen elastic fibers by penetrating deep inside the skin,” says Dr. Jagdish Sakhiya, Chief Dermatologist at the Sakhiya Skin Clinic. “This process is called neocollagenesis, where the human body removes dead skins and stimulates new cells.”
Retinol Benefits and Possible Side Effects
The ADA says that a retinol skin product is beneficial for someone with mild wrinkles, acne, or skin spots (pigmentation irregularities). However, if you tend to have skin allergies or dryness you should check with a skin doctor before using a retinol skin product. Retinols can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you should only use it at night and use a sunscreen during the day.
Retinol can also cause skin dryness and irritation, so a skin doctor may advise using the cream or serum every other day and gradually increasing to daily use. Skin care needs to continue for up to 12 months to get the best results, although you may see some improvement in six months. Once you stop using the cream or serum the results will fade as the normal aging process takes over.
Best Anti-Aging Skin Care
According to the ADA, the two best anti-aging skin care products are moisturizer and a sunscreen. You can also use a combination of moisturizer and sunscreen products. You should use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 every time you are in the sun. A moisturizer traps water in your skin which helps reduce fine lines. Your sunscreen and moisturizer should fit your skin type. You may need different types for oily skin or sensitive skin. Ask your skin doctor for a recommendation. It is helpful to look for products that are hypoallergenic. Other ADA tips for skin aging include:
- Protect your skin from the sun by wearing long sleeves and a wide brim hat.
- If you want a tan, use a self-tanning product.
- Stop smoking. Smoking speeds up the aging of the skin.
- Eat a diet with more fruits and vegetables and less sugar.
- Avoid or don’t drink too much alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your skin and speeds aging.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases blood supply to the skin and slows skin aging.
- Avoid scrubbing your face. Use a gentle cleanser and clean your face about twice each day.
- Avoid any skin products that sting or burn, these cause inflammation that ages your skin.
There are many skin products to choose from. Avoid products that over-promise, even if they say the product is clinically proven. That term only means it has been tried by consumers. It does not mean the claims have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Before using a new product on your face, try it on the inner side of your arm to make sure it does not burn or irritate your skin. Avoid using several different products at the same time, this just increases the chance of a skin reaction.
Finally, remember that fragrances added to moisturizers can irritate dry skin. To avoid irritating fragrances, look for a product that says fragrance-free. Unscented is not the same as fragrance-free. These products have chemicals that mask the smell of ingredients in the product.