Ever since I was a child, I loved to make people feel and look beautiful.

What the Dermatologist Told Me About Retinol

^ So this picture is a reach…. I mean sure, you can see it’s a doctor, but searching for someone who looked like a dermatologist got wayyyyyyy too complicated……………….And I apparently was over ‘thinking outside of the box’ on this one…..

I had the LOVELY pleasure of visiting my dermatologist the other day to see if a spot on my nose was anything to be alarmed of. Though I didn’t think it was anything to be totally freaked out about, I did want to have it checked. It turned out being a remnant of my skin in the heat & it needed a little bacteria medication to clear it right up. So that was good. But while I was there, I take GREAT time in quizzing the dermatologist about ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. He probably thinks I’m a complete psychopath but I consider him to be a very smart & seasoned dermatologist so any information we can get out of his pretty brain, I’m all over it.

So as I’m sitting in the chair asking questions, I realized that today’s visit would be the PERFECT time to hit him up for a new prescription of a retinoid, more specifically Tretinoin, which is just a prescription retinoid. It tends to be cheaper with insurance than getting the SkinMedica one (shown below), though I like them both the same. Anyways, I quickly chimed in and asked if I could get the retinoid hookup. He clarified, according to my records, that I do indeed use a retinoid and he asked about the dose of my current one…. BUT before I could answer, he wrote down the lowest grade of retinoid for me and then explained why.

SkinMedica Retinol Complex

When it comes to a retinoic acid like Tretinoin, you will see anywhere from 0.025% to 0.1% in strength (and variations in between). According to my dermatologist, the strength in which you were ‘prescribed’ was determined by your age, skin type and how quickly you wanted to see results. It was assumed that the higher the percentage, the better your skin would look & quickly. And also the higher strength retinoid would do a better job all around than the lower strength, regardless of how long you used it. However, the doctor explained to me that that isn’t how we should be interpreting it & in fact, studies are showing we’ve been wrong or maybe not wrong, but we could be better informed.

We need to be interpreting the strengths in this way:

Higher strength = Fast & positive results + dryness + flakiness

Lower strength = Positive results

He is saying that regardless of the strength, you will see the same positive results but just in a different time frame & without all the dryness and flakiness. 

But, let’s take a step back just in case you’re not all that familiar with retinoids & what they do for our skin.

Retinol (interchangeable in common speak: retinoid, vitamin A, retinoic acid) is a type of retinoid found in vitamin A. Vitamin A is composed of two parts: retinoids, which include retinol, and carotenoids which includes beta-carotine. Retinol is a type of vitamin A found in animal products like liver, kidney, eggs, and dairy products.

Retinoids can be amazing exfoliators. They help to remove dead skin cells that could clog pores that cause acne flare-ups. They also speed up your skin’s cell turnover, while boosting collagen and elastin. How do they do that? They boost collagen and elastin by stimulating cellular repair.

Retinol is considered THE very best skincare product you can add to your repertoire. If you’ve been nervous to try it because of what you’ve heard in regards to dryness & peeling, have no fear. I think we can all feel confident in knowing that we’ll see the same results, it may just take some time. And if you’re currently using a retinol, consider talking to your doctor to see if it’s really the correct dose you need. Of course, each skincare professional is different and they may prefer you keep up your same routine. Either way, I would highly encourage you to at least consider a retinol for better skin health.

#CheekyConfidential SkinCeuticals claims that their Triple Restore Cream 2:4:2 has actually been proven to shorten the adjustment period to retinoids by up to a week! That’s a big deal. So if your skin is dry, get this lotion (even if your skin isn’t, this puppy works for all skin types)

My random thoughts on retinol….

  • I would start a retinoid product around 20 to 25 years old (I started at 18, LOL!). If you’re more mature and you’re reading this, you may want to start thinking about it now
  • Vitamin A is basically just speeding up your skin’s metabolism, most of us see our traditional metabolism go down around 30 years old and same can be said for your skin’s health
  • Avoid using retinols while pregnant
  • Think of retinol as being a really darn good exfoliant
  • WEAR SUNSCREEN
  • WEAR A HAT
  • Apply retinol at night
  • Work into retinol, regardless of the strength, it can be harsh on your skin so take it slowly (like 1 night a week for 4 weeks even… that’s for especially sensitive skin)
  • Retinoid can be great to treat keratosis pilaris which I said I would be taking better care of in 2019. You bet your fanny I’m gonna be using the Tretinoin on my arms
  • I wouldn’t combine too many acids – you may see crazy dryness, so consider alternating days
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
  • It can take up to 6 months to REALLY see the power of retinoids (usually you’ll see it’s benefits after 2 to 4 months), so be patient
  • With continued use, you’ll see more positive changes, so keep after it
  • Watch your skin… is it too dry one day? Skip it! Regardless of your ‘routine’ you develop, you can always taper back
  • It’s always okay to mix a retinol with your moisturizer, regardless how long you’ve been using it, though your skin should eventually get used to it

Ahh… Can you think of anything I missed? Still have questions, just holler at YO GIRL!

Not on the retinol train? Read our blog for other promising alternatives:

Promising Alternatives to Retinols

Images provided by SkinMedica & SkinCeuticals

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