A derivative of vitamin A -- or retinoid -- tretinoin is widely considered the gold standard in terms of topical anti-aging skin care. Developed originally as a treatment for acne, this powerful, prescription-strength retinoid has proven to be a very effective agent in addressing some of the underlying causes of skin aging and sun damage, resulting in smoother, brighter and more youthful looking skin in users. Retinol and retinyl palmitate are retinoids in over-the-counter products. The actual strength of these products is often not revealed on the labels. Not familiar with tretinoin? Chances are you've heard of it under one of the many prescriptions brand names this retinoid is sold under, including Retin-A, and Renova. So just what can it do for your skin?
How Tretinoin Works In Aging Or Sun Damaged Skin
Tretinoin works to prevent and/or reverse, to some extent, some of the underlying causes of skin aging and sun damage. Among those underlying causes are reduced production of collagen – an essential structural protein in the skin – and hyaluronic acid – a natural chemical that hydrates the skin – both of which occur naturally with aging, but can be accelerated by sun damage. Tretinoin has been shown in numerous clinical studies to increase production of both collagen and hyaluronic acid, enhancing skin hydration and its capacity for natural rejuvenation and repair.
Another factor in skin aging is a reduced rate of skin cell turnover, another process that occurs naturally over time, but can be dramatically accelerated by UV exposure. Tretinoin also combats this component of the aging process, increasing the rate at which dead skin cells are shed from the skin's surface and replaced with fresh ones to a rate more typical of youthful skin.
How Tretinoin Treatment Can Improve Skin Appearance
So how does addressing these underlying mechanisms of aging and sun damage improve the outward appearance of the skin? The increased levels of collagen and hyaluronic acid that this powerful retinoid stimulates work to improve structure and hydration in deep skin layers, which helps smooth wrinkles, correct poor skin texture and improve skin volume and elasticity. Increased skin cell turnover works to brighten dull complexions and fade areas of hyperpigmentation, such as age spots and melasma. It also works to smooth superficial lines, wrinkles and texture problems caused by excessive accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin's surface.
If over-the-counter skin care products aren't doing enough to fend off the signs of aging or sun damage in your skin, stepping up to tretinoin treatment can provide more effective results. However, it is important to note that tretinoin is a prescription strength skin care ingredient that is best used under the supervision of your skin care professional to minimize risk of side-effects and maximize your anti-aging results.