Retinol's Proven Wrinkle-Reducing Power

Vitamin A, also known as retinol or retinoids, has been the go-to compound for many dermatologists and skincare specialists when clients want smoother, clearer skin-and for good reason. There is increasing evidence of its effectiveness.

A recent study involved the application of a 0.4% retinol lotion on the upper, inner arm skin of about 30 elderly people. Before the initial application and then several times over the course of 24 weeks, researchers evaluated the wrinkles and roughness of the participants' skin, ranking the aged appearance on a severity scale of zero to nine.

At the end of the study, it was apparent that skin texture was markedly improved. Furthermore, biopsies showed that the retinol had increased collagen and glycosaminoglycan.

"Topical retinol improves fine wrinkles associated with natural aging," the study authors deduced. "Significant induction of glycosaminoglycan, which is known to retain substantial water, and increased collagen production are most likely responsible for wrinkle effacement."

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    Hi UMcane07, I need to ask you several questions about your skin care routine. You can call me at 88-VERONICA for a free phone consultation and I'll be happy to help you.

  • UMcane07
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    Hi Veronica, I am 25 years old and rarely have any acne break outs. When I do have a break out it is limited to 1-3 large blemishes usually deep in the skin of my forehead, nose and jaw line. How could I best avoid this or prevent the brekaouts all together. I use a daily Neutrogena Men/Invigorating Face Wash.

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    The FDA allows for packaging of ANY vitamin C to be called ascorbic acid. There is no way to know which form it is, unless you have a complete ingredient list on the box or in the packaging. The ingredient list is required to list the exact form. "L" and "D" Ascorbic acid refer to the direction in which the molecule spins. The "L" molecule is the one readily accepted in the skin. The "D" molecule is what is readily accepted in digestion.

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    Hi Jessica, Stabilized retinols mean that the molecule has been stabilized within the formulation. Vitamin A is very unstable so the encapsulation and stability of the molecule is critical. Vitamin C esters are derivatives of vitamin C that have a salt attached. Although they work beautifully in oral supplements, they do not work in topical skincare. L-Ascorbic is not a Vita c ester.

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    Thanks Nerida and Veronica for such extensive informative education on retnoids and retinols. What does the term "stablized" retinol mean? also if you could please define was the term vitamin c "esters" mean verses ascorbic acid or L ascorbic acid?

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    Hello Jessica and Kathryn, A mild retinol product should be a mixture of Retinoids — a “Vitamin A complex” incorporated into a stable, oil-based emulsion. It can be either a cream or lotion. This complex will have a low concentration of stabilized retinol and a higher concentration of different Retinyl esters. This combination has a good skin penetration value, thus enabling the product to reach different layers. You should apply your Retinols in the evenings. If your skin becomes red and flaky, the product may be too aggressive for everyday use. If this is the case, you can cut back to only a few times a week or you can mix the Retinol with your nighttime moisturizer. (Usually, if your skin starts to flake with the use of your retinol cream it can continue for up to 6 weeks and then begin to subside.) Be careful with these products and pay attention to the results. More is not always better. Too much retinol and too strong a product can chemically burn the outer layer of your skin, which will leave you with a slight reddish brown coloration and skin that feels rough to the touch. A slightly burned outer layer creates another problem, as the skin underneath can become congested. Personally, I like to mix my mild retinol with my nighttime moisturizer. That way I get all the benefits without the redness or flakiness. In my experience, prescription-strength retinols are a little too aggressive for most of my clients when used alone. Aggressive retinols have been known to damage capillary walls causing couperose (broken capillaries). But I am also aware that for some people the prescription strength has been of great benefit. If your skin is fair and tends to be thinner, I recommend that you try a mild over-the-counter product first, such as the Rejuvi Vitamin A complex or Jane Seymour’s Natural Advantage. This will give you a good base from which to start and you can adjust as necessary from there.

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    How long can expect my skin to be flaky while on a retinal product? My derm has prescribed retisol A 1% and I was using it sparingly every night. Should I try twice a week or will I get the same result? Thanks, K

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    I agree Nerida. I was introduced to Retin-A more then 30 years ago. I had cystic acne in my teens and early twenties and this prescription helped me more then anything else. I still use it every night. Retin-A is the trademark for a compound containing retinoic acid and the active ingredient tretinoin. There are numerous medications containg Retin-A on the market. Consult a qualified doctor who has extensive knowledge and experience with Retin-A to discuss the best treatment option for your condition. There are many non-prescription retinol products on the market now and they're usually combined with other ingredients to provide additional benefits. It helps with acne, hyperpigmentation, poor skin texture and can prepare skin for other procedures. The primary purpose of retinol is to provide a light peel that speeds the natural exfoliation process and enhance collagen production. I would say about 40% of my clients use some form of retinol in their skin care routine. You always need sun protection when using any form of retinol. I tell my clients to stop using it 10 days before going on a sunny vacation. I'm in my 60's now and it's wonderful to have smooth, clear, healthy skin with the help of Retin-A!

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    Nerida, is there a mild retinol product that you could recommend for evenings? What prescription retinoid would you recommend for expression lines (horizontal forehead lines, lines between eyebrows and nasal labial folds)?

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    I LOVE working with Vitamin A and its derivatives, technically known as Retinoids. When it comes to the skin, there is no magic in biochemistry. The skin’s reaction is determined by the chemical variations and molecular structure of the retinoid product. Personally, I prefer to use mild retinol products every evening rather than stronger ones twice a week. Professionally, I have seen tremendous change in various skin conditions with the use of retinols — reducing the depth of wrinkles, lightening brown spots, shrinking pore size, and improving moisture levels within the skin. I am big retinol fan!

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