I’ve been using Retin A for almost a week and its been fairly easy. But when the weather turned cold and windy, my cheeks got a bit red and my chin looked flaky. It looked so minor, but knowing the potential for real irritation, I decided to take it seriously. I decided to skip Retin A that night and drenched my skin with Aveeno Soothing Moisturizer. By morning the skin was calm and soft.
For me, the take away is that when using Retin A, you have to be flexible and think ahead. I need to keep using Retin A regularly to get the maximum beauty benefits– and this means changing routinue at the first sign of the irritation and dryness.
Close-up: Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHA)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids ( AHA), which are also called fruit acids, are naturally found in a wide range of foods including grapes ( tataric acid), apples (malic) , buttermilk (lactic acid), sugar cane (glycolic acid) and tomatoes (lactic acid). Women throughout history have recognized the beauty potential of AHA. Cleopatra is reported to have bathed in sour milk to soften her desert-dried skin. In the court of Louis XIV, woman made facemasks of wine to clarify their complexions.
Today you can find AHA in cleansers, body lotions, moisturizers, face masks, and eye creams. There’s a lot of great research done on AHA to back up beauty claims. AHA’s can improve skin tone and texture, fade dark patches and even stimulate growth of new collagen and elastin. AHA’s are sort of Retin A light. They work beautifully for younger skin ( under age 40). I liked AHA so much I wrote a book about it ( see photo) Its out of print now, but I’m looking to download some chapters if I can figure out how to do it.
The best way to use AHA is in a moisturizer or body lotion. ( A cleanser is on the skin too short a time to have an impact) Look for a product that has between 5-10% AHA. If a product doesn’t give the AHA percentage, check out where an AHA appears on the list of ingredients. It should be among the first five-seven ingredients to insure that the product is going to deliver maximum beauty benefits. Like Retin A, AHA makes the skin more sensitive to the sun, so you need a daytime moisturizer with a 30 SPF. Its hard to find to find a AHA mositurizer with a sunscreen- the two dont usually get along in the same formulation. I found two AHA/sunscreen combo’s– Neutrogena Healthy Skin Skin Lotion SPF 15 ($12.99) and Skin Effects Glycolic Day Cream SPF30. I don’t like to recommend products without trying them first, but I’m using Retin A and the combination with AHA can be very irritating. I will try these products on my winter-dry hands and legs. I’ll take a before photo of my right hand and leg , use the products for two weeks and then take another set of photos. The left hand and leg will act as controls. Lets see if these AHA – rich products really got game.
Next time: A Date with a Dermatologist