Beauty Ingredients Demystified — Retinoids



According to Dr. Oz (and every dermatologist I’ve ever spoken to), retinoids are the only anti-aging ingredient that is scientifically proven to be effective on a molecular level. There has been 25 years of research on prescription-strength retinoids but there is ample evidence that over-the-counter products are also effective.

Retinoids are all derivatives of Vitamin A. Considered the gold standard for anti-aging, they speed cellular turnover, slow the breakdown of collagen, and promote skin’s elasticity. Retinoids were introduced in the 1970s for acne and are now also used for psoriasis, warts, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Scientists believe that they work by attaching to retinoid receptors in the skin, stimulating it to function properly and slough off dead skin cells.

Prescription-strength retinoids are as much as 100 times more potent than over-the-counter varieties. These products contain tretoinoin or synthetic retinoids adapalene, tazarotene, or isotretinon. Visit your dermatologist if you are interested in trying a product containing any of these ingredients.

Because retinoids are powerful anti-agers, it may be best to start with a over-the counter product with more gentle retinoids such as retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retnaldehyde. If you are interested OTC retinoid product, look for concentrations of no less than .5%. Vitamin A should be one of the top 5 ingredients and it should be stored in an airtight, opaque bottle.

Retinoids may cause dryness, redness, or peeling skin with initial use so start by using every other day and take care to use moisturizers. It is best to apply retinoids at night because they degrade in sunlight. Always use a sunscreen in the daytime when using these products, as they increase sun sensitivity. Be consistent with use and you should see changes in 6 to 8 weeks.

For a list of 20 great anti-aging products with over-the-counter retinoids, please visit my slideshow.

Note: Be aware of contradictions; retinols should not be used with products containing benzoyl peroxide, sulfer, or salicylic acid. As always, check with a doctor before starting any new regimen.