Vitamin A for the Masses

First off, as an esthetician, I have always worked with high caliber product lines. There are so many really great products that are only available through a spa or doctor's office. And I'm not even going to touch what prescribed products can do for you. However, I am starting this blog as a way to help out the girls (and some guys) I know who are interested in their skin-care but probably aren't going to invest in some really expensive products.

One of the most important steps to good long-term skin care is exfoliation. One pretty standard weapon in the arsenal is topical Vitamin A, known as retinol. I have used it and recommended it often to clients, using a variety of brands. However, my skin is extremely sensitive and retinol usually comes in some pretty harsh doses. If your skin is pretty hardy and you want quicker results, you are not going to want to use an over-the-counter product, and certainly not one you can buy at the grocery store. That said, if you are simply not going to pay more, see a doctor, or your skin is sensitive, then this recommendation is for you.

I recently bought the Neutrogena Healthy Skin, deep wrinkle cream which has apparently less than .2% retinol. This is very mild, but in my experience, pretty effective. In fact, it is still too strong to use daily for my skin. Here is a more clinical description of dosage and possible side-effects from FutureDerm.com:

According to experts cited in this article, retinol should be used at night only, in small quantity (a pea-size amount to make a thin layer on your face) after cleansing, and NOT in conjunction with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Retinol also should be used in conjunction with sunscreen every morning, as retinoids/retinol make your skin more photosensitive (sensitive to the sun). Finally, retinol may cause redness, flaking/peeling, and possibly stinging at first, and most experts recommend using retinol products once every 2-3 nights at first for the first 2-3 weeks. The negative effects should be short-term as the skin acclimates to retinol, but if they worsen, the product may not be right for your skin. If ever in question, ask your dermatologist!

And here is another recommendation from someone other than me:

According to dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo in the October 2007 issue of Allure magazine: “With regular use, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream improves skin’s brightness, color, and texture, and softens existing lines and crepiness. If you start using it in your twenties, before you see these changes, you could push them off further.”