Acne series,  Skincare ingredients


Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives which have proven to be the best anti-aging ingredients available; they work by affecting gene expression, neutralizing free radicals (which may cause collagen damage) and promoting collagen production.

Retinoids also have been widely used for acne treatment; they prevent cells from sticking together and blocking the pores, promote healthy cell turnover, and reduce inflammation. 

In order to find the best retinoid treatment for your skin you have to: 
a. Find the type (strength) of retinoids which is best suited for your skin concern
b. Find the formulation and percentage of retinoid product which is best suited for your skin type
c. Investigate brands and packaging
d. Figure out the optimum frequency of usage

1. Main Retinoid types

Since Vitamin A is not a stable ingredient and does not work well with other ingredients various formulations have been developed to address shortcomings and minimize the side effects. Retinoid treatments are divided into 2 categories: Over the counter and prescription. 

Over the counter retinoids are more stable but less effective than prescription treatments. While prescription retinoids are potent retinoic acids ready to be used by the skin, over the counter retinoids first need to be converted to retinoic acid by your skin, through some steps, to become effective.

Next chart shows the most common types of retinoids.

Correction: Retinal should be below Retinol in this chart

Main types of Retinoids:

Retinyl esters: The weakest formulation of OTC retinoids. Suitable for beginners, dry sensitive skin. Highly stable. It must be broken down into retinal, then retinol, and finally Retinoic acid.

Retinol: Suitable for beginners and sensitive skin. Takes more time to work in comparison with prescription retinoids. Doesnโ€™t work on the deeper layers of the skin like prescription retinoids do. Skinceuticals Retinol 0.5 contains retinol

Retinaldehyde: An OTC retinoid stronger than Retinol. Suitable for beginners and sensitive skin. Stable. Only needs to be converted once in the skin to go to work. African botanics Retinal cream.

Tretinoin: A potent retinoid available by prescription only. Mildest form of prescription retinoids. Unstable. Very sensitive to light and oxidation. Suitable for people with oily, acne-prone skin and anteing purposes (deep wrinkles). Retin-A & Retin-A Micro are brand names for tretinoin. The difference between these these two is the system they use to deliver tretinoin to your skin. Retin-A Micro delivers the medication more slowly, over time, so it’s less irritating than Retin-A. May cause mild irritation.

Adapalene: is a new generation synthetic retinoid. Adapalene has a very low percutaneous absorption. More stable than Tretinoin and has better absorption ability, less irritating. Suitable for people with moderate to moderately severe acne. Adapalane is more effective in noninflammatory lesions than inflammatory lesions. Adapalene 0.3% gel is significantly superior to adapalene 0.1% gel and well-tolerated. . Adapalene is also useful in maintenance therapy. 

Tazarotene: This is the most powerful retinoid, available by prescription only. Suitable for people with oily skin and specific acne types. This retinoidโ€™s in the same weight-class as adapalene with different receptor similar effects on the skin but with higher irritation.

Trifarotene: Is the fourth generation retinoid. Suitable for sensitive acne prone skin activity against only one particular retinoic acid receptor; hence, less irritating.

2. Texture, formulation, and concentration

The formulation of retinoids affects its effectiveness. Alcohol-based gels are the most effective because their high absorption ability; water-based gels and cream-based retinoids come next. Cream-based retinoids are suitable for dry skin for rejuvenation purposes. Serums and gels are best suited for acne prone, oily skin.

Make sure that all the products containing retinoids are packaged in an opaque and air-restrictive packages.

3. Amount and frequency of usage

To determine your tolerance, experiment with different strengths and formulations, see how your skin responds. Begin with a lower concentration product and work your way up. If your skin shows signs of irritation, reduce the frequency of use until you find the right balance for your skin. Consistency is the key.

Low strength retinoids are not effective and are only for your skin to build tolerance. To address uneven skin tone, deep wrinkles and acne consider higher strength prescription retinoids.

To improve results, combine retinoids with Niacinamide, peptides, and antioxidants. Use with Ceramides to protect skin barrier and counteract dryness.

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