Retinol, Retin-A, tretinoin, oh my!

Retinol, retinoids, Retin-A, tretinoin, who knew one product could be so complicated?  The Skincare Warrior is here to help break it down.

Retin-A is a brand that contains tretinoin.  The names are interchangeable – – think cleanser and face wash.  You may also find tretinoin manufactured under various names such as Retin-A Micro or Renova.  Another similar name in the tretinoin family is ‘retinoid.’  Retinoids are the group of meds that tretinoin belongs to.  Retinoid is what I refer to as the true ‘fountain of youth.’  This amazing Vitamin A derivative speeds up cell turnover, exfoliates the skin, diminishes clogged pores, softens lines and wrinkles, and helps with hyperpigmentation. 

Unlike retinoids, retinol is an over-the-counter version of tretinoin.  It, too, is derived from Vitamin A and helps with fine lines and skin clarity.  Although it’s not as efficient as Retin-A, it may be a great option for those with sensitive skin who find Retin-A too harsh.

If I asked 5 people about their experiences with tretinoin, I’d likely get 5 very different responses.  Most were using it as a night cream and did not have proper instructions on how to start incorporating it into their skincare routine.  A co-worker of mine once came into work with what appeared to be an overnight sunburn.  When I inquired she said she found Retin-A in her medicine cabinet and slathered it on before bed.  Needless to say, I was horrified (as was she).  Retin-A varies in strength and is known for it’s intense cell turnover.  It must be introduced gradually with a chance for your skin to build a tolerance.  Your skin should also be dry (wait 20 mins after cleansing).  People with sensitivity to tretinoin may want to moisturize first, however, I suggest waiting until your face is no longer tacky and then apply your tretinoin.  A typical application of tretinoin is a dime-size amount for the entire face as a little goes a long way (and be conscious of corners of the nose and mouth as to avoid over drying and irritation). 

Lastly, when using a retinoid product, it is IMPERATIVE that you use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 at minimum.

Stay tuned for my next post on the newest retinoids customized just for you!

~Skincare Warrior

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