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!