Retin-A is a drug generically known as retinoic acid or tretinoin, derived from vitamin A. Retinol is a less-potent form of Retin-A, and its effectiveness is scientifically supported. Since Retin-A can improve skin texture and fade dark sports and freckles, Retinol is extremely helpful. It shrinks dilated pores and improves cell turnover within the pores, so they are less likely to clog and become blackheads or whiteheads. More important is its ability to affect the retention of collagen.

Collagen is what gives our skin its structure, firmness and elasticity. Repeated sun exposure breaks down collagen, and along with aging. Cells produce less college to repair this damage. Thus, we have wrinkles, sagging and the loss of fullness as we age.

Retinol requires common sense. You must start off slowly, using no more than a pea-sized amount once every three nights for a couple of weeks. You will slowly graduate to nightly application, and that’s only if your skin can handle it. If your skin becomes red and irritated, you may have to decrease the amount of usage to every other night.

Retinol does have its contraindications. It is not recommended for pregnant women or for people with rosacea. You may also want to consider applying a moisturizer over retinol, 20 minutes after its application. It is imperative that you use proper sun protection when using Retinol as you will become sensitive to the sun rays. There are concerns that you may tear the skin while waxing when using retinol, so this is strongly discouraged.

Retinol does double duty in helping to boost collagen. Research shows it has potential to stop photoaging before it starts. The regular use of a retinoid product increases the amount of new collagen formed, and research has shown that new collagen will last for years.

Retinol may actually make the skin look worse in the beginning, with redness, flaking and peeling. This sometimes lasts for up to eight weeks. However, at 24 weeks, patients will see dramatic improvements, most studies have shown.

Retinol isn’t used only for cosmetic purposes. It has been used to treat precancerous skin cells and acne as well. During these treatments, physicians noticed another benefit with enormous impact – skin that was vibrant and smooth. They found that Retinol actually works to remodel the skin on a cellular level.

Wrinkles do not develop overnight. During your 20s and 30s, your skin becomes thinner, dryer and less elastic. The amount of collagen produced by your skin declines, and the skin turnover process becomes slower. Retinol works by speeding up the skin cell turnover process when your body replaces liver skin cells on the surface of skin with newer, fresher skin cells formed on the lower level of the epidermis.

Retinol is a prescription medicine that is far more effective than the creams and washes you can by over the counter. Retinol also has mountains of scientific data to back it up its effectiveness. It works by speeding up the rate at which your body replaces skin cells, giving your skin a fresher, more youthful appearance.

Here are a few steps to follow:

1. Before applying, you should wash your face with warm water, and use a small amount of non-irritating soap or a mild cleanser.

2. Make sure the soap has been washed away, and then blot your face with a dry towel.

3. Squeeze a pea-sized amount onto your finger and apply it to your cheeks, chin and other areas where you notice wrinkles, avoiding lips, nostrils and eyes.

4. Gently rub into your skin, and do not use large amounts as it will cause irritation.

5. Set a timer for 20 minutes for full absorption, and avoid touching skin or applying any other topical until the 20-minute time frame has passed.

6. Apply moisturizer, if necessary.

Avoid excessive sun exposure, and be sure to use a SPF 30-plus at all times as you will be sensitive to the sun. Stay hydrated. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and keep your skin hydrated. Be consistent, since you may not see the full effects for several months.

Retinol comes in three strengths: .025%, .05% and .1%.

Retinol is a safe medication. Since it is topical, it does not have to pass through the liver as do other medications, such as Accutane. It’s easy to stop using, with a short half-life and none of the withdrawal effects of topical steroids. It does have some side-effects, including dryness, irritation, peeling and sensitivity to sunlight. Less common side effects would be rapid onset dermatitis, blisters and vesicles, which are very rare.

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