Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard—at least something—about retinoids, also commonly called retinols,. With retinoids gaining popularity, as of late, there is a lot of information about the product going around; some of it is true, other parts aren’t so factual. Because we know how hard it can be to find reliable information these days, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, giving you everything you need to know about retinoids.
What Are Retinoids?
Without getting into the hard to understand science-y side of things, the terms ‘retinoid’ and ‘retinol’ are used interchangeably when referring to a compound of vitamin A derivatives. The gold standard in skincare, retinoid-based products can really do it all; retinoids are known to unclog pores, increase collagen, and speed up cell turnover. Better yet, many retinoid users have seen these kinds of results in as little as four weeks!
Retinoids Have Been Around Awhile
You may have heard of the acne topical called ‘Retin-A.’ Forty years ago Retin-A, or tretinoin, was the first FDA-approved retinoid. Marketed then as a prescription-only acne treatment, users reaped more benefits than clear skin alone. After just after just a few uses, Retin-A users’ skin was clearer, smoother and brighter than before use. Today, there are three prescription strength retinoids each one slightly different from the other: tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene.
There are Over-The-Counter Options
Before you make an appointment with the dermatologist to obtain a prescription for one of the above-mentioned prescription only retinoids, it may be worth trying an over-the-counter retinoid. Of course, as with any OTC product, it is highly unlikely to produce as striking results as a prescription based product.
That said, a non-prescription retinoid is a good place to start for those who are just testing the waters with this type of product. It is also something to consider if you have moderately sensitive skin, as it is less harsh than those products which require a prescription. If you choose to opt for an OTC retinoid you can expect brighter skin and an improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in about twelve weeks.
How Do They Work?
While there are many websites that claim retinoids work by sloughing off dead skin cells, there’s a bit to more it than that. Retinoids ultimately affect the expression of your skin’s genes and result in increased collagen production, which ultimately causes the skin to look and feel smoother. Of course, there is some truth to the idea of dead skin cells being removed—this is a side effect of the chemical. While it’s not a reliable form of exfoliation, retinol can cause some peeling (of dead skin cells), as well as redness. Don’t let this stop you from using the product, though. Once your skin gets used to the product and you start seeing results, you’ll be glad that you didn’t give it up.