Retinoid (Vitamin A) products have been hailed as the skin’s master vitamin for many years due to their extraordinary benefits. Because of this, we are constantly bombarded with new topical retinoid products and the latest retinoid formulations.
What makes one medical cosmetic (cosmeceutical) product better than another and are they really all that different from the over-the-counter cosmetics you can buy at your local shop?
Retinoids or Vitamin A, are a great add-on to your skin care routine, but not all retinoids are created equally. To help you make the right choice, we looking at all aspects of retinoids and what this ingredient is all about.
It’s important to understand that the word retinoids is simply a collective term used to describe the various forms of Vitamin A such as Retinoic Acid, Retinol, Retinol Acetate, Retinol Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, Rétinyl Acétate, Retinyl Palmitate, etc.
Vitamin A can only bind with the receptors on the skin cells (and therefore have an effect) when it is in the form known as Retinoic Acid. Retinoic Acid is the pure, prescription form of Vitamin A that you will find in topical Isotretinoin products.
Over-the-counter cosmetic products claim that they contain Vitamin A, and they do, but it is often a fairly low dose of something like Retinol Palmitate, which then needs to be converted to Acetate, before it is converted to Retinol and then finally to Retinoic Acid, by which time the effect on the skin is almost insignificant.
This is why you’ll find such a large disparity between the results of a cosmeceutical product which contains Retinol (and only has to go through one conversion) versus an over-the-counter product where the retinoid needs to be converted multiple times before it can be used by the skin. It’s like taking already diluted cool drink and further diluting it with large amounts of water, rather than taking the concentrate and mixing it with the correct amount of water.
Finding an effective product
When looking for an effective retinoid, ensure that ‘retinol’ is listed as an ingredient. Unfortunately, you are not likely to find it at your local shop. You’ll need to visit a reputable skin care clinic or Doctor who will also ensure a skin analysis is performed so that they can recommend a product tailored to your specific needs. Do your homework and only consider brands with clinically proven results such as Neostrata, Lamelle, Obagi and SkinCeuticals.
Is It Working?
When you start using a good quality, high strength retinoid product, you will experience initial sensitivity. This is important, because it means that the product is actually changing your skin and working effectively! If it is just another facial cream that ‘contains Vitamin A’, and you can use as much as you want without any sensitivity, you’ll know that the “retinol” is not having the desired effect.
To look at the various products available visit our Online Skin Shop for more information.