Most dermatologists, even those pushing their own line of products, recommend some form of Retin A as “the foundation of anti-aging skin care” ( their words, not mine). Yet many of my friends are dubious about using it. I tried it a few years ago, but just wasn’t into it. At that time I didn’t have sun damage or wrinkles and probably did not see the point. Now I really want it to live up to its promises. To improve my chances of success and reduce redness and irritation, I came up with a Retin A tip sheet:
1. Use a very mild cleanser, avoid scrubbing grains, exfoliators, alpha hydroxy acids, and wash cloths.
2. Wait 30 minutes after face washing to apply Retin A
3. Start with a low dose of a milder product in a cream base. I’m using Retin- A Micro which is a low dose product where the medication is encapsulated to reduce iritation
4. Use only a tiny pea size dab and apply to the whole face– not just on dark spots and wrinkles.
5. Twenty minutes after Retin A application, top it with a mild moisturizer. Avoid products with potential irritants including vitamin C, over- the- counter retinoids, and alpha hydroxy acids.
6. For the first week or two, use Retin A only every other night. If the skin seems calm and happy, work up to every day application.
7. In the morning, use mild cleanser and top with gentle moisturizer that has a 30SPF.
8. If the skin starts looking irritated, avoid using Retin A on the reddened areas. If irritation persists, take a 2 day holiday from Retin A.
This is what I’ve gleaned from reading clinical guidelines and talking to dermatologists. Lets now see how well these “rules” work in the real world.
CLose-Up: Hyaluronic Acid
I got a very interesting comment asking about Hyaluronic Acid. There are so many ingredients out there that I decided to add a little ingredient paragraph to every post. Some of these I had written about in The NonNonsense Beauty Book, while others are new to me. Hyaluronic Acid is an old friend with new uses. Found naturally in our skin, it has the ability to attract and hold water. In fact it has been reported that one molecule of hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000x its weight in water. As time passes our body produces less and less of this great moisturizer. By age 50, the skin has about half that we had when we were in college. It’s an expensive ingredient and primarily found in high-end products . For example, a moisturizer rich in hyaluronic acid is Skin Medica Hydrating Complex ( $76 for one ounce). Another form of hyaluronic acid is used in long lasting injectable fillers such as Restylene. Because hyaluronic acid is a naturally occuring substance there is far less risk of inflammation and allergy compared with some of the other fillers. In case you can’t tell, I really like hyaluronic acid.