Skincare: the two best products

There’s hundreds over beauty creams out there…and most of them are glorified moisturizers, and are a waste of money. Fact is, if you were stranded on a desert island, and for some reason, wanted to have a basic skin care program that was simple and was scientifically proven to work, you would only need 2 items: good sunscreen and retin-A cream.

Retin-A really works. And it has been scientifically tested, shown to be safe for long term use, and shown to be effective, which is more than you can say for most of the other over-the-counter products.

Retin-A is a Vitamin A derivative. It works by doing several good things to the skin simultaneously: it thickens the dermis of the skin, stimulates new collagen production, helps to exfoliate and thin out the dead surface layer (statum corneum), reduces hyperpigmentation (brown spots) and suppresses the formation of early skin cancers. Oh yeah, and it treats acne, fine lines and wrinkles, texture issues and actinic keratoses while you’re at it.

However, Retin-A isn’t perfect. It makes the skin more sun sensitive. And the first six weeks of therapy can actually make the skin look temporarily worse, as it goes through the initial red and irritated phase. Some people get a temporary flare-up of their acne. You have to go through the “I hate it” phase, before you get to the “I love it” phase. It’s also not good for patients that have rosacea or are pregnant.

Many of the side effects can be managed fairly well once you learn about how to use the product best. For example, don’t start with the most potent concentration of retin-A cream, start with the lowest dose, and gradually work your way up to the stronger formulations, as your skin acclimatizes to the effect of Retin-A.

Helpful hints for Retin-A:

– Start out using your product every other night. More is not better.
– Wash your face (or other area of treatment)
– Wait 20-30 minutes
– Apply a pea-sized amount of cream to your finger. More is not better.
– Dab the cream/gel around the area to be treated and rub it in.
– Wash off your hands.
– Keep your product out of your eyes.
– If you are treating wrinkles around the eyes, you may apply the product under the eyes and to the crow’s feet areas. Avoid applying to the upper eyelids.

Renova cream: what is it?

As people age, their skin becomes much drier and less able to tolerate a product like Retin A. Enter Renova. Renova contains the same active ingredient in Retin A, but it is in a heavier moisturizing base. People who have dry skin, and find Retin-A too drying, may prefer Renova, as long as they are not acne-prone. Renova is heavy enough that it may cause a flare of acne in someone with pre-existing acne. So, if you have the unlucky combination of acne and wrinkle issues, I would stick with a Retin-A formulation, instead of Renova.

Of course, both Retin-A and Renova are prescription strength products. They are significantly more powerful than any creams you might purchase over-the-counter.

We’ll discuss the less-potent cousins of retin-A next time….

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