Dr. Itay Wiser logo: Itay Wiser Plastic Surgeon. MD. PHD.

Retinoic Acid Skin Care Products:
Uses and Common Myths

Most people have heard about how incredible retinoids are for the skin. Study after study has shown the ability of retinoids to stimulate collagen, encourage cellular turnover, soften wrinkles, treat acne, and provide a more youthful glow to the skin.


Let's begin taking a look at retinoids by first clearing up some common myths about these amazing products.


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Myth #1: All retinoids are created equal.


All retinoids are not the same. They are part of a large family of compounds that are derived from vitamin A. Retinoids are available in several forms like topical and oral medications. Over-the-counter retinoids are the form most frequently included in skincare products.


Retinol is a type of retinoid known for causing fewer side effects than other forms. One drawback is that it may take several months to achieve noticeable results.


Retinoic acid - other names include Retin-A and tretinoin - provides significantly faster results than retinol, which requires additional chemical conversion to its active form within the skin.


Myth #2: Retinoids will thin my skin.


This myth is probably related to the fact that retinoids use cause temporary skin peeling. The stimulation of skin cells turnover causes the skin peeling associated with retinoid use. Old, damaged skin cells slough off to make room for new ones. On the contrary to the myth, retinoids stimulate the production of collagen to thicken skin.


Myth #3: Retinoids will increase my skin's sensitivity to the sun.


Many patients are concerned that the use of retinoids will increase their skin's susceptibility to sun damage. Retinoids began breaking down in the presence of sunlight (is why they are commonly dispensed in opaque containers). Still, although studied extensively, no evidence of increased sun damage was associated with retinoid use.

What are the benefits of retinoic acid for wrinkles?

One of the main reasons that many people choose retinoic acid is its ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. As you grow older, your body begins to produce declining amounts of collagen naturally. Since collagen helps to thicken and strengthen your skin, this reduction leads to thinner skin that is more prone to the development of wrinkles. Retinoic acid helps to treat and prevent wrinkles by both stimulating the formation of collagen and inhibiting its breakdown.

By increasing the rate of skin cell turnover in the epidermis skin layer (the outermost layer of the skin), retinoic acid helps to minimize skin pigmentation and wrinkling and to achieve a youthful and radiant skin appearance.

I have problems with skin pigmentation. Can retinoic acid help me?

Dark spots, melasma, and freckles develop because of the overproduction of skin pigment. This can be due to factors like skin injuries, sun exposure, hormonal influences, age, and inflammation. Retinoic acid helps to minimize these types of pigmentation for a more even skin tone.

Can retinoic acid improve rough skin?

Rough skin is caused by the thickening of the dead skin cell layer on the skin surface. Retinoic acid can make your skin smoother by removing dead skin cells that roughen and block the natural radiance of your skin.

Are there any side effects associated with the use of retinoic acid?

Some patients may experience minor redness and irritation. The key is selecting the proper strength for your particular skin type.

Another possible side effect is known as "acne purging," which can lead to acne breakouts caused by hidden acne under the surface of the skin. This acne would have emerged eventually, but the use of retinoids reveals it more quickly. This phenomenon is rare and temporary, and you will be happy with your results if you stick with the product.

Regarding side effects in general, over the past five decades, no long-term risks or systemic side effects have been observed, which is one reason why retinoids are so widely prescribed.

Can retinoic acid be used in conjunction with other treatments?

Yes. Patients often obtain better results when they undergo treatments like chemical peels after first using retinoic acid.

How will I know if retinoic acid will work for my skin?

The best way to determine if retinoic acid skin care products can help you is by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Wiser. Please contact our office today to book your consultation and take your skin to the next level with retinoic acid.