You've probably heard of Retin-A over the years, especially if you have been on the look out for something to reduce signs of aging, such as loss of elasticity and wrinkles. When you walk down the aisles of your typical drug store or shopping mall you are bombarded with so many products, ingredients and empty promises, it's impossible to make an informed decision. We are left scratching our heads. So what really works?
There is only one product with crystal clear demonstration of working on a molecular level, Retin-A. What is so specials about this product and what makes it so much better than the countless other products? We are talking about a prescription, that alone sets it apart from it's superficial competitors; superficial meaning these other products only penetrate the surface of the skin, leaving them powerless to combat wrinkles.
Where do I find this Retin-A?
Retin-A comes in different formulations and under different names like Retin-A Micro, Renova, Avage, Tazorac and Tretinoin. Here at Simply You Medical Spa we carry Obagi Tretinoin 0.05% and 0.1% as well as Renova 0.2%. The great thing about Renova is that it can be used around the eyes to treat the infamous crow's feet (you know, where time has marched across your face). No eye cream is comparable to Renova from an evidence based standpoint.
You'll find Retin-A products in plastic surgeons offices, dermatologist offices and medical spas around the world. You won't find it in the trunk of any traveling salesman's car or novice business woman. Only physician supervised medical establishments will carry a product with this level of efficacy.
Prescription Retin-A first became popular over 20 years ago as an acne treatment. But doctors and patients soon noticed another benefit, one with enormous impact on those who were looking for a way to keep skin vibrant and smooth. Patients reported improvements in skin texture, including diminished wrinkles and brown spots. In 1988, Dr. Voorhees and his colleagues at Michigan published the first double-blind study of Retin-A's effect on photo-damaged skin and found that all 30 patients who completed the 16-week study showed statistically significant improvement. Many studies have been done over the years proving this product works to remodel the skin on a cellular level.
The mechanism behind the medicine
Retin-A, generically known as retinoic acid or tretinoin, is derived from Vitamin A. Retinol, a less potent form of Retin-A, not to be confused with prescription strength formulations.
Skin cells contain retinoid receptors that help regulate how the cell functions. As people age, their cells behave more erratically. But consistent use of Retin-A helps normalize the cells. Retin-A improves skin texture and fades dark spots and freckles because it causes skin cells to turn over more rapidly. It shrinks dilated pores and improves cell turnover within the pores so they are less likely to clog and become blackheads and whiteheads. But what has earned Retin-A its long-held reputation is its ability to affect the retention of collagen. Collagen is what gives skin its structure, firmness and elasticity. Repeated sun exposure breaks down collagen and, with age, cells produce less and less collagen to repair the damage. Skin wrinkles, sages and loses fullness. Retin-A does double duty in helping to boost collagen. According to research at Michigan, it has the potential to stop photo-aging before it starts. The retinoids prevent the rise of collagenase after UV exposure. Regular use of a retinoid product also increases the amount of new collagen formed, research has found, and that new collagen will last for years.
Why isn't everyone using it?
Many dermatologists blame a lack of patient education. People use Retin-A too much, use it too often, experience negative side effects and then give up on it too soon, doctors say. The problem with Retin-A is that it may actually make skin look worse - with redness, flakiness and peeling - for up to eight weeks. But by 24 weeks, patients will see dramatic, marked improvements.
Manufacturers have come up with ways to make it more tolerable, less irritating and more effective. Brand-name prescription versions contain emollient moisturizers and have more-advanced systems for getting the active ingredient into the skin. These additions are the main difference between generic Retin-A and the pricier name-brand versions (a large tube of a name brand can run over $200 versus about $80 for generic).
Doctors generally recommend using no more than a pea-size amount for the entire face. They advise using the product once every three nights (or once a week if skin feels irritated) for a couple of weeks, then every other night, eventually working up to every night if the skin can handle it.
Retin-A is not recommended for pregnant women. Apply 20 minutes after skin is cleansed and dry. Avoid lips and directly under eyes. Avoid UV ray exposure; use SPF 50 broadband daily. Exposure to UV light (including from sunlamps) increases intensity of inflammatory reaction. Concomitant topical medications such as abrasive soaps, cleansers, or cosmetics with strong drying effects may cause increased skin irritation. Use extreme caution in eczema.
What do we carry here at Simply You?
Obagi Tretinoin 0.05% (for dryer skin types)
Obagi Tretinoin 0.1% (for oily skin types)
Renova 0.02% (for around the eyes)