Types of Retinoids and Their Skin Benefits

With the new Lumière de Vie Retinol Crème on the way, it’s time to talk! Retinoids are definitely the highest quality when it comes to anti-aging skin care, and for good reason. They are vitamin A derivatives that work by binding to acid receptors. Then, they act as transcription factors and affect gene expression. This makes them very powerful and able to produce significant changes in the skin. Given the long list of benefits, it’s not surprising to find one of vitamin A’s many forms as the star ingredient in so many skin care products on the market today. Knowing which type will work best for your skin concerns requires some research.

Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Retinoids

Depending on your skin type and concerns, your dermatologist may recommend an over-the-counter retinol cream or prescribe a more potent prescription treatment. Topical retinoids are helpful for acne because they help to prevent and treat clogged pores.

Because of their gentler formulations, non-prescription retinoids are generally deemed safer for sensitive skin. Particularly, newer variations of the ingredient have been proven to have high efficacy with lower risks of irritation that make them ideal for sensitive skin types.

Additionally, oral retinoids can also be prescribed to treat more serious conditions ranging from severe acne and psoriasis to cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Things to Remember When Using Retinoids

While retinoids are hailed for their proven benefits and noticeable results, they also come with certain side effects that may raise some alarms for first-time users. Retinoid products can initially be irritating and/or drying to the skin. As such, it is prudent to start using them once or twice per week and slowly increasing to nightly as tolerated. Using a small pea-sized amount of product can be helpful. Waiting until the skin is completely dry before applying the medication and folding in a moisturizer afterwards can also help minimize irritation.

Sunlight also affects the stability of retinoids, which means it’s best to use them at night. But for those whose daytime products include retinoid ingredients like retinol, use caution when spending time out in the sun. Using retinol can make your skin more sun-sensitive, so always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen above SPF 30. Pregnant women are also advised against using products with retinoid ingredients.

Types of Retinoid Ingredients

To get you started on choosing the right retinoid ingredient to add to your skin care routine, here is a guide to the most common retinoid forms and how they can benefit your skin.

• Retinoid: Retinoid is the umbrella term for the class of molecules that bind to retinoid acid receptors. It is also used casually to refer to prescription-strength versions of the ingredient.

• Retinoic Acid: the active form that vitamin A breaks down into in order to be utilized by the skin. It plays a role in cell growth, stimulates collagen and elastin production and improves hyperpigmentation and discoloration. Prescription retinoids contain retinoic acid, while over-the-counter retinoids are gradually converted to retinoic acid through a reaction that occurs within the skin.

• Retinol: Over the years, retinol has become one of the most sought-after ingredients in anti-aging skin care products, thanks to its unmatched efficiency in addressing the most common signs of aging. Although less potent than prescription retinoids, retinol is known to accelerate cell turnover, boost collagen production and smooth and even out skin tone.

When it comes to keeping your skin looking younger and more radiant, this powerful serum definitely doesn’t hold back. Its potent 6.5 percent solution is a combination of powerful retinol blends and plant-based retinol alternatives. It targets the most common signs of aging (fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and dark spots), breakouts and sun-damaged skin. In a clinical study, up to 96 percent of respondents reported that this serum has effectively treated their skin concerns.

• Tretinoin (also known as Retin-A, Renova): This is a prescription topical retinoid. In its mildest forms, it’s used for its anti-aging properties. In stronger forms, it is used for acne.

• Tazarotene (Tazorac): Considered one of the most potent topical retinoids. In lower percentages, it is generally used to treat acne while stronger dosages are prescribed for psoriasis.

• Isotretinoin (aka Accutane): This prescription oral vitamin A derivative is more potent than topical varieties because of its ingested form.

• Adapalene: Adapalene 0.1% gel is a recently approved over-the-counter retinoid. It is best for sensitive skin because it has a decreased risk of irritation compared to other prescription retinoids. It is also known for its anti-inflammatory effect and low absorption rate through human skin.

• Retinal/Retinaldehyde: One of the newest varieties of retinoid ingredients. Retinal or retinaldehyde has become the latest skin care MVP. It has the ability to deliver the same anti-aging benefits as retinol but in a faster and more efficient way.

• Plant-Based Retinol Alternatives: Some plant-based ‘retinols’ imitate retinol to a degree because of its anti-aging properties.

Kathryn Jacobs

Kathryn Jacobs


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