Did you know there is a drug in the form of a cream that actually makes your skin thicker, smoother, plumper, and radiant? Tretinoin/Retin A is a cream that is proven to do that. It is also known as trans-retinoic acid, retinA, Avita, Renova, and requires a doctor’s prescription.
It stimulates the skin by causing irritation. It’s like a mini-chemical peel every day.
It must be used in conjunction with a good moisturizer and sunscreen to reduce further irritation. Also, if you use a lower strength and apply it every other day or three times a week, your skin will adjust to it and you’ll be able to increase the strength over time. It may take up to six months to see the full effects.
It should not be used when pregnant because retinoids cause birth defects in animals. However, there is no direct evidence that topical retinoids cause birth defects in humans.
How much does it cost?
Generic form 0.025 percent (20 g): $42.65, 0.05 percent (20 g): $50.22, 0.1 percent (20 g): $58. The price is more for the various name brands.
Similar to tretinoin/RetinA is Tazarotene 0.05 percent
or 0.1 percent cream. It is also known as Average External and Tazorac External, which may be used as an alternative to tretinoin. It also requires a prescription. Treatment is initiated with 0.05 percent cream or gel applied twice per week at night. The concentration or frequency of application is gradually increased over several days as tolerated up to 0.1 percent cream applied once daily.
How well does it work? According to one small study, Tazarotene 0.05 percent is equivalent to 0.1 percent of the retina.
How much does it cost? 0.05 percent (30 g): $279.16 and 0.1 percent (30 g): $296.56
Retinol and retinyl palmitate are a milder form of tretinoin/retinA and Tazarotene. They can be purchased over the counter without a prescription and costs start at $15.00 for an ounce and go up from there.
How well does it work? Nonprescription 1 percent retinol was as effective as .02 percent tretinoin in improving photoaging a small randomized study. Similar to tretinoin/Retina and tazarotene they increase collagen production to minimize lines and wrinkles, and speed cell turnover to even out discoloration caused by UV damage. Because it’s a milder agent, it’s a good starting cream until you build up a tolerance and switch to a higher strength of tretinoin/retina or tazarotene.
Also available without a prescription are several anti-aging creams sold in the cosmetic department. They can contain antioxidants, vitamins, or plant extracts that can be used alone or with prescription-strength anti-wrinkle creams. However, there are very few studies telling us which ones work the best. Small studies conducted by the company that is trying to sell you their product are the most unrealizable sources of information. When researching these products look for studies that use a lot of people. It’s even more reliable if is double-blind and random controlled. That means the people conducting the study and the participants do not know which product is the placebo and which is the active product. Another sign of a reliable study is one whose results are reproducible by other researchers. Those are the kind of studies done on Retin-A and other reputable products.
Beware of buying expensive cosmeceuticals. Sometimes the less expensive ones work just as well.
Below is a list of the most common active ingredients found in nonprescription face creams.
Niacinamide, b3 which reduced transepidermal water loss, lightens the skin and increases collagen production.
Vit C protects for uva induced oxidative damage, increases collagen formation, lightens the skin
Coenzyme q10: protects from uva induced damage and collagen damage.
Vit E. reduces UV induced redness
Alpha-lipoic acid. Has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as an exfoliant.
Alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Increases exfoliation, improves hydration
Green tea extracts. Reduces redness and has antioxidant properties.
Soy isoflavanes –genistein and daidzein. Antioxidant, phytoestrogen, lightens the skin.
Grape seeds –antioxidant and anti-inflammatory to promote wound healing.
Coffeeberry –antioxidant properties
Ginkogo bilobal –stimatates collagen formation
Ginseng –antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Hyaluronic Acid such as sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronan improves hydration
Exfoliants work by loosening the bonds between the dead cells in the skin’s uppermost layer so they can be shed, improving texture and adding radiance. They also speed cell turnover. Products that improve hydration draw water to the skin to moisturize and temporarily plump. Antioxidants work by fighting free radicals (skin-destructive molecules produced by UV rays, pollution, allergens, and other irritants) to help prevent lines and wrinkles. Any product that increases collagen formation is making the lower layers of skin thicker and plumper. Anti-inflammatory products reduce redness, swelling, and tenderness.