The #1 Product Needed in Every Beauty Arsenal

skinBy Julia Tanghetti

Have you ever walked by the cosmetic counters in the department store or looked through the drugstore aisles to find skin care products that promise to erase your wrinkles, make unwanted pigmentation disappear, and smooth out skin texture?

Well, I hate to break it to you ladies, but most of these claims are total B.S.

However, there is one class of products that is clinically proven to have powerful anti-aging benefits for your skin. These products are called topical retinoids. Many of you may also be familiar with brand names such as Retin-A  or the active ingredient tretinoin. If you aren’t already using a topical retinoid, then now is the time to start.

If you follow my advice, you will save a lot of money on products the make big claims, but don’t give results.

Why should you use a topical retinoid in the first place?

As we age our skin cell turnover really starts to slow down. This means our skin is not producing as much collagen and elastin (ie. the things that keep our skin looking young and healthy). When you compound this with sun exposure…boom…you’ve got a recipe for wrinkles and unwanted pigmentation.

Topical retinoids work by increasing skin cell turnover so your skin starts acting like 20-year-old skin again. (Really!) With this increased cell turnover, you also get an increase in collagen and elastin production that gradually diminishes fine lines, evens out skin tone and prevents you from forming wrinkles in the first place.  If you haven’t called your dermatologist for an appointment yet, don’t waste anymore time!

There are many topical retinoid myths and people often find starting prescription retinoids difficult because they aren’t properly educated on how to use these products.

Topical Retinoid Myths

  • “You can’t use topical retinoids in the summer” – This is absolutely not true. While retinoids can slightly thin the skin, you will not be more sensitive to the sun than you would without use. It’s always necessary to wear sunscreen EVERYDAY – regardless of whether you are using a topical retinoid or not. I actually find my prescription retinoid to be more tolerable in the summer because my skin is not as dry as in the winter.
  • “They work fast” – Give these products 4-6 months to work before you start seeing significant results. If you are consistent with use, expect even better results at 1 year plus. It’s the marathon, not the sprint!
  • “You can’t use topical retinoids around your eyes” – The area around the eye is more sensitive, however don’t be afraid to treat under the eye and around the crow’s feet. If you find you are very sensitive, you can always apply a moisturizer to the eye area before applying the product.

Topical Retinoid Tips

  • Start with a lower strength retinoid and work your way up to a stronger formulation – If you start topical retinoid treatment at the strongest percentage, I guarantee that you will be miserable. Start at a low strength, such as tretinoin 0.25%, and work your way up to a stronger strength. This will minimize irritation.
  • Find a formulation that works for your skin type – There are so many formulations available from featherweight gels to super heavy creams. Find the one that feels the best for your skin and you’ll be more apt to use the product.
  • Supplement use with a good non-soap cleanser and moisturizer – Pick a cleanser that is non-drying and does not strip your skin of moisture. Also, use a good benign moisturizer that does not have a lot of active ingredients that may contribute to skin irritation.  This will help to cut down on dryness.
  • Start using the product every other night and increase to every night as tolerated – this will help your skin in the process of “retinization.”
  • Take a retinoid holiday if you are feeling overly irritated – if you’r REALLY dry or irritated, it’s ok to take a few days off treatment. The important thing is consistency, so just resume regular use once your skin is feeling back to normal.

Top Picks for Retinoids

  • REFISSA – This prescription retinoid is super emollient, which helps to cut down on the dryness and irritation commonly associated with these types of products.
  • ATRALIN – If you have skin that is more oily or if you still suffer from breakouts, Atralin gel may be a better choice. The gel is formulated with hyaluronic acid, which helps to hydrate the skin.
  • NEUTROGENA RAPID WRINKLE REPAIR – This is a good alternative for an over-the-counter retinol. If you can’t afford a visit to your dermatologist, pick up this alternative at your local drugstore.

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