26 Jan RETIN-A: The Holy Grail of Skincare
RETIN-A: The Holy Grail of Skincare
What do you think of when you hear the word Retin-A? Pimply faced teen-aged girls? Well, that’s who it was originally prescribed for by doctors dressed in white coats and toting clipboards. Today, however, it is just as commonly prescribed for middle-aged women with wrinkles, by just about anyone who has a license to prescribe medication.
Do you know why? Because it works! Retin-A (Tretinoin) is the ONLY thing that is PROVEN to reduce wrinkles. In addition, it diminishes brown spots, shrinks pores, improves acne, evens skin tone, boosts collagen, and (drum roll please) is proven to GET RID OF WRINKLES!
“Tretinoin is also known as all-trans retinoic acid or ATRA. It is available as a cream or gel (brand names Aberela, Airol, A-Ret, Atralin, Avita, Retacnyl, Refissa, Renova, Retin-A, Retino-A, ReTrieve, or Stieva-A). The most common strengths are 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%. I’ve used the Retin-A brand of Tretinoin for the past 20 years, so you will continually hear me refer to it as Retin-A. Just know that there are many different brands that make the product. If this is all the information you need to be convinced to go out and get a prescription, then go now.
Here’s why Retin-A should be the foundation of all anti-aging skincare: It’s ALL about exfoliation. Dead skin, just like dirt, collects where our skin folds, which makes wrinkles seem more obvious. Furthermore, if your skin is layered with dead or dying skin cells at the surface, the cells underneath slow down their renewal process. You end up with lazy skin that’s not working to its full potential. Retin-A (and to a lesser degree, retinol over-the-counter products) helps to get rid of these dead cells.
This allows newer and healthier skin to shine through which, in turn, causes the newly exposed younger skin layers to crank up cell production. With continued use of Retin-A, your skin stays in a constant state of repair: active, producing collagen, renewing itself, alive, working to its full potential.
So, if you are buying expensive, name-brand skin creams from department stores, you may as well be throwing your money in the trash. I’m not saying that there aren’t any good over-the-counter products out there. There are. However, you are mainly paying for fancy packaging, marketing, and added ingredients that have few substantial benefits to your skin. If the product is a Retinol based skin cream (a less potent form of Retin-A), then you are at least headed in the right direction. Over-the-counter products like Vioderm, RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer, and SkinCeuticals retinol 0.5 and 1.0 formulas, are just a few of the latest to hit the market. These products are actually good, and could be used to ease yourself into the more concentrated strength a prescription offers. But, do not stop here. Trust me, I’ve tried all the crap out there. These store-bought products are not even close to the prescription strength.
I’ve been the guinea pig of wrinkle creams since my 20‘s. Take it from a veteran. Find a way to get a prescription. It’s not as difficult as it may seem. What’s that saying?… “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Well, I will tell you the way, and it’s pretty damn easy.
The easiest way to get a prescription is to walk into a CVS minute clinic, get a prescription there, and buy your tretinoin at the CVS pharmacy. Trust me, everyone is sympathetic to the wrinkle-fearing, broke girl who doesn’t want the cost of a dermatology appointment to get the product! However, if you have insurance, you should always have a trusted dermatologist on hand. Check your insurance to see if Retin-A is covered. There is usually an age cut-off from your insurance. Mine is 35 years old. Um…I passed that age LONG ago. Anything after 35, my insurance considers cosmetic instead of medically necessary.
(Side note: I don’t think any of the policy makers are women over 40.)
After you have your prescription, save the over-the-counter crap stockpiled in your bathroom drawers for your elbows, hands, and feet. For your face… go right to the big guns! I use Retin-A .05%. I started at .025% when I was in my 20’s, and gradually worked my way up to what I consider a perfect strength for my skin. I’ve tried to increase to the 1.0%, but it eats my skin up like battery acid. I wouldn’t recommend the 1.0% for anyone, unless you have cystic acne, or are planning on being on a deserted island for the year or so it would take to acclimate to it.
Which brings me to the next point… If you have tried Retin-A before and think that it is just not right for your skin because of the peeling, redness, irritation, etc., you are not alone, my friend. Retin-A, in ANY strength, will eat your face up at first, which is why many people get frustrated and don’t stick with it. You CAN’T give up. Your skin WILL get used to it. I promise. I suggest starting slow and easing into it. Begin with the .025% every other night on a clean dry face, and then increase to every night as your skin begins to tolerate it. You can also alternate with what’s left of your over-the-counter products. Once that initial tube is gone, increase to .05% strength. Use it every other night at first, and then increase to every night. If it seems too drying, add a face cream on top, 20 minutes AFTER the Retin-A has been applied.
So there you have it. Go get it, and start looking years younger (after, of course, the initial few weeks of looking like Hell).