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Clinical Pearl Wednesday #91

Cosmetics Beauty Health Make Up  - uluerservet / Pixabay

The most significant anti-aging topical products being sold today are topical retinols and prescription topical retinoids. But what’s the difference? Which is “better?”

Both retinoids and retinols are topical Vitamin A products. These products are used for anti-aging purposes to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, they produce a tightening effect of the skin, they improve collagen production, fade hyperpigmentation, and they also help to improve acne by unclogging the pores and reducing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

The skin uses the active form of Vitamin A, called retinoic acid, to produce these effects. Over-the-counter retinols must first be converted into retinoic acid by the skin before it is most active. Prescription retinoids (tretinoin, etc.) are the most bioactive forms of retinoic acid available and are approximately twenty times more potent than retinols. This is why the prescription retinoids are considered superior than the over-the-counter retinols. However, the retinols have value because they are less expensive, do not require a prescription, and are milder for those sensitive patients.

Either product is a good choice to recommend for any non-pregnant patient wanting an anti-aging topical.

For hundreds of dermatology and cosmetic skin care specific clinical pearls, be sure to check out The Dermatology and Cosmetic Skin Care Course that is currently on sale until 8/8/21!

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