Later this month, I will be attending a national laser and skin care conference in Boston. This great conference, which I try to attend every year, brings together all the most prominent doctors in this field of aesthetic dermatology in one place to discuss new discoveries and debate pros and cons of various treatments and technologies.
Despite the fact that there is frequently heated debate about the technical fine points in this field, there are several pillars of skin care on which we all agree, and with which we urge patients to comply. The number one pillar, without exception, is sun protection.
Any doctor who specializes in aesthetic dermatology will tell you that if you want to prevent premature aging of your skin, you need to protect the skin from the damage caused by ultraviolet light. You would think that this recommendation would be common sense by now.
However, if that were the case, then we would not have tanning beds on every street corner in America. Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 every day on exposed parts of your body, and please, stay away from tanning beds!
The second pillar of skin care is not as well known to the general public, but is recommended by the vast majority of skin experts. Use retinoids.
What are retinoids? Retinoids are derived from vitamin A, and the most well known brand name in this category is Retin-A.
Retinoids have been shown to improve collagen production, unclog pores, and improve skin cell turnover. These characteristics help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone, and reduce acne outbreaks.
Retinoids do come in both prescription and over-the-counter versions. Tretinion, which is the retinoid found in Retin-A, is quite strong and works faster than the OTC forms.
Unfortunately, due to the increased potency of this medication, there are side effects, especially for those with sensitive skin. When first used, the area treated with retinoids can become red, dry and irritated. For most people, it is best to start out with OTC retinol, and then later increase the potency of what you use if needed.
Although it is a great product to repair the skin, retinoids should not be used when you are exposed to direct sunlight. Retinoid-treated skin is more sensitive to the sun’s rays and therefore more likely to burn.
Due to the higher turnover of skin cells, the newer skin cells are younger and more sensitive to damage. In addition, sunlight also tends to chemically inactivate the retinoids themselves.
The usual recommended routine is to use retinol on your face before bed at night, and then use a sunscreen every morning before leaving your house. Therefore, you receive the benefits of this topical medication each night and then protect its effects every day.
The biggest mistake people make with retinol is that they use too much. A pea-sized amount can cover a wide area.
Since these products are expensive, using small amounts will give you more bang for your buck. Using less will also reduce the likelihood of developing the side effects of excessive redness and dryness.
Another important point about retinols as well as many other skin products is that you have use the products consistently and long term for them to work and make a significant difference. Depending on the individual, it may take one to three months to notice positive results.
However, once the benefits of retinols start and are noticeable, the positive effects will continue as long as you continue to use the products. The skin does not appear to build a resistance to its effects the way other medications do.
Retinols have been proven safe to use for the long term, just like sunscreens with high SPFs. So, essentially, once a combination of the right retinol concentration is found for your skin, you can continue with your daily routine for the indefinite future.
We have several products containing retinol that you can purchase through our Maine Laser Skin Care online store. These items contain more retinol than the OTC varieties you will find in drug stores, but not enough to require a prescription.
If you have any questions about these or any other retinol products, prescription or OTC, do not hesitate to give us a call at (207) 873-2158.