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Denver Facial Aesthetics Blog

A Closer Look at Retinol and Retin-A

04/06/22 | 3 MIN READ

The science and technology behind skin care ingredients has been evolving rapidly in the past decade. Formulas can be customized to address a multitude of skin care issues or to maintain the great qualities you already possess. Retinol and Retin-A are two popular ingredients in many skin care products and while you might assume they are the same, this is not the case. Despite similar names, there are some differences that matter when you’re considering skin care products.

What are Retinol and Retin-A?

Retinol and Retin-A are both retinoids, derived from vitamin A. With regular use, retinoids enable your skin to maintain its freshest, healthiest appearance by promoting faster cell turnover and stimulating increased production of collagen and elastin to improve skin structure. This helps reduce fine lines and other visible signs of aging.

Where to Get Retinol Products

Retinol is available in many over-the-counter skin care preparations. Here at Raval Facial Aesthetics and Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics, we offer certain retinol-based products to our patients that are not available in stores, including Revision Retinol Complete .05% and SkinMedica Retinol .05%. Always keep in mind that these products work gradually, so you will need to use them for about 6-8 weeks before expecting any results.

Where to Get Retin-A Products

Retin-A is a brand name for a retinoid known generically as Tretinoin that is available only by prescription. It is used primarily to treat acne, since it helps prevent pores from becoming clogged. However, Tretinoin also promotes faster cell turnover and reduces discoloration to help skin look smoother, firmer, brighter and more uniform. Our RavalRX Essential Night Cream contains tretinoin and comes in 3 strengths: .25%, .5% and 1%. We mix it right in the office with the specific formula for each patient. We also offer Obagi Tretinoin at .025%, .05%, and .1%.

The Truth About Retinoids

At Raval Facial Aesthetics and Rocky Mountain Laser Aesthetics, patient safety is our #1 priority. We only recommend and use products that we know are the highest quality. There have been some misconceptions about these products in the past, so let’s set the record straight:

  • They do not cause cancer as used in skin care products. Actually, Retinol is an antioxidant, one reason it is so good for your skin.
  • They will not increase your risk of sunburn. However, the sun’s UV rays do degrade the efficacy of retinoids, so you should always use sunscreen. (You’re doing that anyway, aren’t you?)
  • You do not need a high concentration of Retinol or Retin-A in order to achieve desired results.

Retinoids and Skin Sensitivity

It is perfectly safe to use retinol products daily. However, some people have more sensitive skin than others. And everyone’s skin around the eye is more delicate. For this reason, our Medical Aesthetician, Kayla Steele, always recommends that patients using retinoids start slowly. “Use it once and really pay attention to whether your skin is red or raw or dry or flaky,” she advises. These are all signs of irritation. If you see them, she says, “don't use it again until your skin feels normal again.”

In some cases, you may end up using the product only every 4 days. That’s OK, because regardless of what timing regimen works best for you, your skin will benefit from regular ongoing use. And over time, your skin may develop increased tolerance, in which case you can use the product more often or even every day.

Get Maximum Benefit from Retinoids

  • Only apply retinoids at night to clean, dry skin. This gives your skin plenty of time to fully absorb the product before being exposed to sunlight.
  • If skin sensitivity is an issue for you, apply moisturizing serums before retinoids, and in some cases, you can even mix your retinoid with a moisturizer.
  • Always wear sunscreen the next day - and every day!
  • Stop using retinoids 7 days prior to any aesthetic treatment you have scheduled with us.

Will Retinol or Retin-A Work for You?

A personal consultation will help you decide and also give you confidence that you’re using the best specific product to address your concerns. If you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding, you will want to avoid retinoids. Our skilled Medical Aestheticians can help you choose an appropriate skin care product for any of these instances. Retinol and Retin-A are great options for many people. Shop online or schedule your consultation today!
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