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Do Retinol Skin Care Products Work

If you are beginning to experience fine lines around your eyes or wrinkles in your face you may have considered using a retinol skin care product but have some questions about their use and effectiveness. Do they really reduce lines and wrinkles? Is the effect permanent? Are there any side effects? We'll try to answer some of your questions here.

Do Retinol Skin Care Products Work?

There are two types of product that contain vitamin A derivatives, prescription only products and over the counter (OTC) products. Prescription only preparations contain tretinoin which has been shown to be very effective at smoothing out the skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Some examples of these preparations include Retin-A and Renova. OTC products contain a milder form of vitamin A called retinol which, although not as effective as tretinoin has also been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Although less effective than tretinoin there are now many studies to show that it is effective on lines and wrinkles and in helping to give a healthy looking skin with a good color and tone. One study by Sewon Kang, MD of the University of Michigan studied the effect of retinol skin care products on thirty six elderly subjects who were in their eighties and healthy. For six months they applied a retinol containing lotion to the skin on their arms. At the end of the study skin biopsies were taken and compared to biopsies taken before the test. The biopsies showed that fine lines and wrinkles were significantly reduced. After the trial some members reported that the skin slowly returned to the pre-trial state over the next six months so the effect is not permanent but is very long lasting.

How do Retinol Skin Care Products Work?

Young healthy skin is supported by a lower layer of elastin and collagen. As we age these are damaged by the sun and other environmental pollutants. This results in the skin losing elasticity and develops lines and wrinkles. Retinol is a small molecule that is able to penetrate the skin and reach the elastin and collagen below where it can repair any damage. With collagen and elastin in better condition the skin regains its elasticity and becomes smoother and looks healthier with lines and wrinkles disappearing.

Are There Any Side Effects from Using a Retinol Skin Care Products?

In general these products are very safe and the most you may experience is a slight redding or itching of the skin. This is perfectly normal when you first use a retinol product and will subside in a day or two. You should also be aware that retinol skin care products can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun so always use a sun screen after applying them (always a good idea in any case!)

How Should You Use Retinol Skin Care Products

It is best to use retinol containing products in the evening or before retiring for the night. Use between cleansing and moisturising for the best effect. If you do use them in the daytime use a good sun screen.

Some Precautions When Using Retinol Skin Care Products

Do not over use these products especially the prescription preparations as they can cause irritation and burning if used in excess.

Avoid using at the same time as alpha hydroxy acids or benzoyl peroxide which may prevent the retinol from being effective.

Other Uses of Retinol Skin Care Products

Preparations containing retinol and tretinoin have been shown to be effective for chronic cystic acnes as they have an exfoliating effect and can also unblock pores.


Retinol skin care products are effective at smoothing out the skin, restoring a youthful appearance and reducing the number and depth of fine lines and wrinkles.
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Article Added on Friday, February 20, 2009
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