Is Oprah Right About Retinol Cream?

Retinol Cream: Your Skin’s New Best Friend

 In the July 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah touts the benefits of retinol, a vitamin-A derivate that was FDA-approved over 40 years ago. Although tretinoin is the generic name, most folks know it by the following prescription brands: Atralin, Avita, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Renova. Many over-the-counter products also contain form of vitamin A labeled “retinol” or “retinoid,” which will turn into retinoic acid slowly, taking longer to show positive effects.

What Does Vitamin A Do?

 Vitamin A in the form of tretinoin was first developed as an acne treatment to help with cell turnover and regulation of the sebaceous glands. Lack of cell turnover and overproduction of oil from the sebaceous glands can create an anaerobic environment on the surface of the skin which breeds, among other things, P. bacteria, the most common form of acne-causing bacteria. Patients found that tretinoin dramatically controlled their acne, as well as stimulated collagen production, causing a skin plumping that reduced fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin forces cell turnover, which also reduces brown spots on the skin caused by sun-damage, hormones, and ageing. As a side note, it was first used in the treatment of leukemia under the name Vesanoid.

 Where Does Vitamin A Come From?

 Vitamin A is found in fish oil, salmon, carrots, dairy products, spinach, and broccoli. Since it promotes normal keratinization (the turnover of skin cells), it helps with conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Without it, skin becomes extremely dry and dull, reports Ellen Marmur, dermatologist and author of Simple Skin Beauty.

 Will a Retinoid Make Your Skin Sun-Sensitive?

 “This is one of the biggest retinoid myths,” says Doris Day, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center (and a Tazorac user herself). “The ingredient itself is sensitive to sunlight, which is why you should apply it before bed at night.”  Summer is actually a great time to start using a retinoid because the humidity helps lower the initial dry, flaky response as your skin returns to health. Layers of dry, dead skin only give the appearance of protecting the skin from the sun, when in fact the UVA rays that cause long-term damage are still getting through, causing permanent damage to the emerging cells. Anti-aging and sun-damage control begins and ends with quality sunblock and cute hats. A sunblock or zinc and titanium dioxide at 30 SPF reapplied every two hours recommended.

 Turning back the clock on sun damage is a matter of turning over the cells. Vitaman A is proven.  Nothing works like it, not even a Swiss apple skin.





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