Glycolic acid and Retin A are two of the most popular and effective skin care ingredients that are used in two very different skin problems– aging and acne. Gycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid ( AHA) derived from sugar cane. There are other AHA’s from milk ( lactic acid), apples ( malic acid) and citric acid ( lemons), but glycolic acid is considered just about the most effective. AHA’s help the skin exfoliate the top, dead, dry layer of cells that are clogging pores and dulling the complexion. When the layer of dead cells are removed, it signals new growth of fresh healthy skin cells. In oily and acne troubled skin, glycolic acid cleans up clogged pores. Skin growth in older skin is slowed down and can look dull and dotted with brown spots and patches. Glycolic acid can trigger a better rate of growth and this activity will also help clear skin of darkened areas.
You can find glycolic acid products online and in drug and department stores. It works well in cleansers, moisturizers, masks, and toners. The better products actually give you the percentage of glycolic acids to let you know the potency. Most experts believe that to be effective you need at least 10- 12% glycolic in the skin care formulation.
Stronger glycolic acid treatments are available in office based treatments. Glycolic peels with 30-70% concentrations are applied to the skin for 3-5minutes,( it stings a bit), then is neutralized and rinsed off. The skin may look a bit red and peel slightly. It is wonderful for acne control and the better dermatologists use it to jump start an anti-aging program.
Retin A– the Turbo Powered Exfoliator
Retin A is derived from vitamin A and acts in a somewhat similar fashion but on a much bigger scale. Retin A ( which is a trade name for tretinoin) has three important features– its slows down oil production, increases circulation, and agressively peels off top layers of old discolored skin cells. Dozens of clinical trials have shown that it can truely rebuild collagen. Unless used carefully and cautiously, it can make the face very red and flaky. There are more than six different Retin A brands to be used at night but they are all only available by prescription. You can get a more complete game plan for using at Retin A– Five Top Retin A Questions.
To bottomline it, glycolic acid and Retin A has similar effects on the skin. Gycolic acid is kind of a baby step Retin A and a great way to prevent signs of aging in your twenties and thirties. When you hit the forties its a good time to switch to Retin A.
One final thought: When starting Retin A it can be irritating to use it with glycolic acid. After about six months on Retin A and your skin no longer over reacts, adding a glycolic cleanser or tonic several times a week can boost Retin A results.