Most of you probably know that retinol is one of the main products we use for anti-aging.  But did you also know that retinol is used for acne, brown spots and rosacea?  Did you know that not all retinols are created equal? They are different in how they are absorbed, their strength, and what other corrective products are combined with them. Do you know the difference between retinol and Retin A (tretinoin topical)? Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is converted to retinoic acid in the skin and can be formulated to be time-released, allowing the skin to get just the amount needed a little at a time. Tretinoin topical (Retin A) is straight retinoic acid and so when applied to skin, it is absorbed all at one time whether the skin needs it or not, often resulting in significant redness and flaking. Dr. Norris at Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa states “Most of my patients like retinols better than tretinoin because they get the benefits of the product without redness and flaking.  I like PCA Skin’s retinol because it is formulated to be time-released overnight, therefore more tolerable and therefore more effective due to better patient compliance.”

There are also different strengths of retinol.  Retinol’s main function in the skin is to increase cell turnover, meaning increase the skin’s ability to create new skin. When our skin is damaged by the sun, it needs to be replaced, otherwise lines, wrinkles and laxity occur. When a person is in their 20’s, their cell turnover is about 10 days. Every 10 years that we are older, our cell turnover increases by 10 days.  This explains why our skin develops signs of aging and also explains why the sun is our enemy in the aging process. Whenever someone starts retinol for anti-aging they can usually start at one dose and stay on that dose because the skin breaks down the retinol to the exact amount of retinoic acid that it needs.  When someone is on tretinoin, they must gradually increase the dose for the same effect.

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