Retinols, Retinoids, Vitamin A creams, and daily Glycolic acid "anti-aging" products are seeing a surge in popularity right now, reflecting the ever-changing tide of skincare trends. Retinol being almost blanket-prescribed, across the board solution for just about every skin condition, for all skin types, and ages. I will always push against this daily-use methodology as skin and its unique needs, are highly individual.
Yes, there is a place for these substances, in certain circumstances, in controlled use for some people. It behooves me when someone is prescribed these harsh chemicals, and they are not aware of the long-term problems they can create. I see over-use, not using sunscreen (clothing, hats, and umbrellas don't count), and doubling-up with other strong "anti-aging" products indiscriminately. Then, people come to me with sensitized, itchy, reactive skin.
Take the gloss finish off your car, and see what happens to the paint. They wonder why their hyperpigmentation and melasma is worsening, and their products don't work or bother them. Continually ratcheting-up cell turnover creates new problems and adds to pre-existing ones.
These substances work by accelerating the formation of new skin cells to replace the old, damaged skin. But, there is nothing worse than exposing new 'baby' cells to UV radiation and pollution, and repeated daily applications of powerful substances. Harshly treating skin day after day with strong products exposes the new, unprotected cells to rapid and sometimes permanent DNA damage. When these new baby cells are exposed to chemicals, pollutants, and UV radiation, this signals the skin to INCREASE its production of melanin... the dark pigmentation no one wants.
Retinol products can render the skin more sensitive to environmental aggressors like pollution and cigarette smoke that cause the kind of oxidative damage that speeds up aging.
While maybe smoothing skin, retinol products are also known to cause irritation, redness, flaking and peeling. Some studies may show that they improve the appearance of wrinkles, but this could be a result of the micro-inflammation they create deeper in the tissue to provoke an accelerated turn-over response. The swelling under the skin creates a temporary pseudo-firming, and daily repetition creates daily micro inflammation leaving the skin in a circle of continual inflammatory destruction. The more inflammation, the quicker, and harder-to-treat barrier and skin conditions become.
This micro inflammation may damage the structure and strength of the skin long term. I believe synthetic ingredients and continued use of harsh ingredients like retinoids are counter productive. It's only been since the late 90s that people have used retinol, We haven’t yet seen the long-term effects of retinol use, other chemicals, and nanotechnology.
A lot of these chemicals are very hard on skin and while you get this turn-over which short term is wonderful, it is an added stress to the skin. Retinol's aim is to speed up turnover so that you get plump new skin, but at the same time cell turnover is FINITE. A cell can only reproduce itself a certain number of times, and then it dies. As we age, we do not make nearly as many new cells as we did when we were younger. Why hasten their growth cycle and kill them off faster? Aging skin cannot keep up the cellular renewal process, it gets slower and slower as we age.
Build up the health of your skin, instead of tearing it down daily.