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Retinoids are a large group of substances, all of which are vitamin A derivatives, ranging from end-to-end sales (OTC) to prescription drugs – ointments or pills. Retinoids have a clinically proven ability to encourage cellular turnover, encourage collagen production, helping to treat acne, wrinkles and pigmentation.

OTC retinoids are commonly found in serums, creams and moisturizers:

  • Retinol – has reduced side effects, is converted at the cellular level of the skin and therefore provides visible results within a few months to a year.
  • Retinol esters (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate) – the weakest in the retinoid family. Suitable for those who are just starting treatment with retinoids or for those with sensitive skin.
  • Adapalene – slows the growth of enlarged pores, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is therefore also suitable for the treatment of acne

Prescription Retinoids:

  • Retin A – works quickly and immediately on the skin as there is no need for conversion within the skin
  • Accutane – a drug taken orally, which is prescribed in severe cases of acne and requires close medical attention

Do retinoids make the skin thinner?

This is a common myth due to the common side effects of gentle skin peeling with the initial use of retinoids. But the opposite is true. Because retinoids stimulate collagen production, they actually help thicken the skin. Young skin is usually thick and one of the signs of aging is thinning the skin.

Can young people use retinoids?

Despite the common belief that retinol and its derivatives are not intended for young people, the use of retinoids in the cosmetic industry was originally for the purposes of dealing with and curing acne. In fact, it was only towards the end of the 1980s that the benefits of retinoids in softening wrinkles and lightening pigmentation spots were first published in scientific research, labeling this group as "anti-aging".

There is no age limit for the use of retinoids, and it depends mainly on the condition of the skin and its needs. It is one of the best and most effective pro-aging substances, or "preventive anti-aging", second to only – sunscreen, of course.

Retinol (or retinoids) and sun

The biggest myth of all – the use of retinoids makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight. You guessed it – this is also a myth.

Furthermore, retinoids "break down" due to sun exposure. This means that in practice, not only does the skin not become more sensitive to the sun due to the activity of the retinoids, but rather the retinol exposed to the sun loses its properties and its desired effect on the skin.

However, treatment with high percentages of retinoids (such as prescription Retin A), may cause skin peeling revealing new skin which is naturally more sensitive to the sun and therefore may be hypersensitive to sun radiation, but certainly not due to the substance itself. It is therefore – and notwithstanding retinoids themselves do not increase sun sensitivity – necessary to apply significant high SPF sunscreen to retinoid-treated skin.

Sensitive skin and retinoids

Retinoids have a bad reputation as an aggressive ingredient on the skin. They are indeed quite active, but understanding the way they work will allow, even those with sensitive skin, to use them and enjoy their many benefits when it comes to skin rejuvenation. The retinoid connects to a receptor in the cell nucleus responsible for collagen production and additionally – accelerates the rate epidermal cells’ turnover.

Retinoids are considered antioxidants, and as such their main role is in blocking the penetration of free radicals into the skin. Its rejuvenating effect on skin appearance is mainly the result of retinoid connection to the skin cell’s nucleus and the promotion of the collagen production, and not of the skin peeling itself. Often, after using retinoids the skin feels irritated or dry and therefore its activity is associated with skin peeling. These sensations express skin dryness for an intermediate period, until it adapts to exposure to retinoids.

Therefore, the recommendation for those with sensitive skin is to start with the gentle retinoids and not to use them very often. Sensitive skin should be allowed time to get used to exposure to these substances, and only then should the intensity of treatment be gradually increased. Retinoid treatment should be combined with intensive moisturizing.

Retinoids and pregnancy

Vitamin A is necessary for our body and for normal fetal development. It helps the development of cells and the of the fetus itself, especially the skin, eyesight, bones, and teeth. Vitamin A is found in a wide variety of animal and plant foods which suffices the amount needed for supporting fetal development.

Too much vitamin A can cause damage to the fetus and a sufficient amount of the vitamin is provided from regular balanced diet, applying cosmetics with vitamin A may result in excessive amount that can harm and cause malformations to the fetus. It is therefore advisable not to add retinoids through cosmetic products during pregnancy.

When is the right time to start using retinoids?

If your goal is to treat and take preventative measures against wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation and their like – the late 20s or early 30s are a great time to start using retinoids. During these years the body begins to produce less collagen and its production rate slows down, compared to earlier years. At the same time, the decision is very individual and is very much influenced by each person’s lifestyle and the level of sun damage caused to their skin.

A word from the doctor – about the natural substitute for retinol and how you can enjoy the properties of retinoids even during the day

In a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2019, a clinical trial compared retinol with its "natural substitute" (bakuchiol). Bakuchiol is an herbal cosmetic ingredient extracted from the top and seeds of the Babchi plant (Psoralea Corylifolia) with significant anti-aging properties. The results of the experiment showed that both bakuchiol and retinol significantly reduce wrinkled areas and hyper-pigmentation, with no statistical difference between the two components. In contrast, retinol users reported more cases of skin irritation and peeling.

Thus, the study concluded that bakuchiol was identical in its abilities to improve the damage of skin aging and sun (photoaging) to retinol, but it is a less aggressive alternative to the skin compared to retinol.

As such, we built the MAHUT Pro-Aging Serum around the bakuchiol component, with a perfect fit of the SUPCERAT complex, to make sure the skin gets the intense moisture it needs when exposed to active ingredients, while a restored epidermal barrier prevents evaporation of the active ingredients from the skin out.

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