Retin-A: The Truth About Tretinoin
Tretinoin ( retinoic acid) is the acid form of vitamin A and is available as a cream or gel (brand names Retin-A, Renova, Aberela, Airol, Atralin, Avita, or Stieva-A). Tretinoin was FDA approved as a topical medication in 1971. Tretinoin treats acne, minimizes pores and reduces oiliness. The anti-aging benefits of tretinoin include, reducing appearance of fine lines and skin discoloration.
Tretinoin promotes detachment of cornified cells and the enhanced shedding of corneocytes from the follicle. Tretinoin also increases the turnover rate of thin, loosely-adherent corneocytes. By making keratin softer and more gelatinous, the stratum corneum becomes soft and compact. Tretinoin suppresses the melanocytes, this is why it is often used when treating skin discoloration.
Tretinoin stimulating fibroblast.
It is believed that tretinoin stimulates the fibroblast. Some studies suggest that tretinoin can help firm the skin by stimulating fibroblast activity. Fibroblasts produce collagen, elastic fibers, and the ground substance of the dermis. With age fibroblasts become smaller and less active.
Tretinoin enhances the skin healing process.
Studies show that topical use of tretinoin before chemical peels, enhanced healing. There is more epidermal regeneration and collagen regeneration appears to be faster when skin was pre treated with tretinoin.
Tretinoin makes my skin peel and it feels tight and dry.
Initially, tretinoin dehydrates the skin the outer surface of the skin ( stratum corneum ), causing a rapid exfoliation. The good news is, tretinoin repairs the damaged keratinocytes, increases mitosis, and restores proper hydration. With time your skin builds up tolerance and reactions subside.
Does tretinoin thin the skin?
I have heard people say, “don’t use tretinoin it thins the skin”. I think there is some confusion, about what part of the skin is thinning and if that is a good or bad thing.
Tretinoin works by thinning the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum), while cells in the epidermis are stimulated to produce a thicker epidermis layer. Collagen production and cellular growth in the dermis layer also increases. Although it is true that tretinoin does thin the stratum corneum, it actually makes other layers of the skin thicker. Thinning the stratum corneum isn’t exactly a bad thing. With age the statum corneum can become thick and dehydrated causing the appearance of fine lines and rough, sallow skin.
Epidermis Stratum corneum, outermost layer with dead keratinocytes being exfoliated off.
Is retinol the same as Retin-A ( tretinoin)?
Many people confuse retinol with Retin-A (tretinoin). Retinol and retinoic acid (tretinoin) are related but distinctly different. Retinol, retinal and retinyl palmitate, do not have the same effect on the skin as tretinoin/ retinoic acid. They first need to be converted by special enzymes into the active metabolite, retinoic acid. Unfortunately , the conversion rate is low and varies among individuals. The other problem is that when retinols are exposed to air, they can become oxidized and degraded. There are some companies that have produced retinol formulas that are more stabilized.
Tretinoin vs AHA’s
Tretinoin causes a rapid coarse exfoliation, which is the shedding of attached group of cells. AHA’s cause shedding of individual cells. The action of AHA’s is extracellular, compared to the intracellular action of tretinoin. The intracellular action of tretinoin works goes into the dermis and stimulates the fibroblast. The effects of tretinoin can last up to four months even after product has been discontinued, in contrast to the short lasting smoothing effects of AHAs.
Tretinoin is a drug.
Tretinoin is a drug and should be used only as prescribed. There are certain contraindications for using Tretinoin, including pregnancy and nursing. You should not wax skin that has been treated with tretinoin and some skin treatments are not recommended while using tretinoin. Be sure to discuss possible contraindications with your skin professional.
*You should never purchase Tretinoin or any other prescribed drug on line.