Minimizing Risk With Retinoids

Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos says using retinoids for anti-aging can be advantageous but also cautions the need for skin barrier preparation first.

Retinoids are available in many anti-aging skincare products, and Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, says the hero ingredient’s popularity boils down to its demonstrated effect on fine lines and wrinkles.

Because retinol, a form of vitamin A, is converted in small quantities to tretinoin in the dermis, she says it mimics prescription tretinoin effects, making it an ideal ingredient for over-the-counter skincare products.

However, along with the anti-aging advantages comes risk of skin irritation. To minimize this risk, Dr. Draelos recommends having patients effectively prep their skin barrier for two weeks prior to starting retinoid products. That means having patients use a mild skin cleanser and good moisturizer only, and foregoing all exfoliants, scrubs, and toners.

After two weeks, she starts her patients on the lowest strength retinoid and slowly increases dose strengths every four weeks as long as no irritation occurs.

More details on retinoids can be found at “The retinoid revolution” in our sister publication, Dermatology Times.