How to get the wrinkle-fighting benefits of retinol without the irritation

April 10, 2015
Volume 3    |   Issue 14

When it comes to fighting signs of aging, particularly wrinkles, retinol has been one of the biggest breakthroughs in the dermatology community. Retinol is very effective at exfoliating the skin and promoting the development of new healthy cells and collagen. Prescription-strength amounts can be very effective, but they aren't for everyone. In fact, retinol is so powerful that even the amount found in drugstore products can be too much for people with sensitive skin, leaving them with irritation and redness rather than a smooth, youthful texture.

So are people with sensitive skin doomed to miss out on the benefits of this great ingredient? Not at all! They have options, and here's why. Retinol is actually a form of vitamin A. But vitamin A itself doesn't have much of an effect on skin. Instead, its active metabolite, retinoic acid, is what does the heavy lifting. Retinoic acid is the active ingredient found in Retin A and Renova. It also can be too harsh for people with sensitive skin. And even people who do tolerate it fairly well typically shouldn't use it on a daily basis.

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But there's a metabolic pathway that leads to retinoic acid. It looks something like this: retinyl palmitate >retinol > retinaldehyde > retinoic acid. The earlier a product is on the pathway, the more of it will be needed to get to the end goal of retinoic acid, since much is lost in the conversion process. That's why manufacturers typically try to use retinoic acid or retinaldehyde in their products — they're more effective in smaller doses.

But the earlier these metabolites are on the pathway, the gentler they are on your skin. True, you have to use more of them to see an effect, but that's certainly a better option than swearing off retinol altogether.

You'll notice that the first step on the pathway is retinyl palmitate. This is the gentlest version of vitamin A for your skin. It's also the version included in Système 41's Night Treatment. I want to be sure our products are effective, but not at the risk of causing irritation. Retinyl palmitate is gentle enough to be used daily, so you don't have to worry about which night cream to use on which day. Applying retinyl palmitate to your skin every evening will allow you to soak up all of the rejuvenating benefits and none of the irritation.

Prescription Retin A and Renova are often between $100 and $250, depending on what your insurance will do for you. If your dermatologist does recommend Retin A or Renova, you may want to use the Night Treatment on the interval nights. For example,  use the Retin A or Renova three nights a week and the more gentle Night Treatment four nights a week. 

To your health, naturally,


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