Answer: What an interesting question and a bit more complicated than it seems. In general principles, both Retin A and peels exfoliate the top layer of dead dry skin cells. This stimulates cell renewal and promotes fresher and smoother skin. The natural life cycle of the skin is designed to shed this layer of surface skin. But factors such as acne, sun damage and aging can inhibit this process. The result will be dull rough skin that is troubled with breakouts, wrinkles and discoloration.
Exfoliation with peels or Retin A stimulate the growth of healthy collagen, lighten or remove brown patches and help the skin hold onto moisture. On the surface exfoliation smooths the skin, shrinks pores, and reduces both fine lines and acne scars. Good stuff.
A Peel For Every Skin
There are more than half a dozen basic types of peels including those using lactic acid, beta- hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and blended peels. You can buy mild peels off a pharmacy shelf while stronger peels are available at spas and physicians. Just to make things more complicated 10% Retin A is also used as a peel. ( By comparison, nightly Retin A treatment products have concentrations that range from .025% – .1%).
Retin A treatment creams act slowly over time to provide long lasting benefis. Most of the superfical peels act immediately to change the surface. However the impact is usually cosmetic rther than long lasting. Medium and deep peels have a more dramatic change with significant redness, peeling and a longer haling process.
I’m a big fan of both peels and Retin A. Keep in mind that you need to stop using Retin A two days before and three days after superficial peels. Coming up will be a No-Nonsense Guide to the six different types of peels that will explain their benefits and costs and how to choose the best one for your own skin needs.