retinoids vs. glycolic acid: the anti wrinkle face cream conundrum

March 26, 2011 at 9:02 am in Fashion & Beauty by VN Editors

It’s confusing enough to read all the labels and decide on an anti-aging regimen that works for you. Throw in the complex buzz-worthy ingredients like glycol acid, salicylic acid (AHA and BHA, respectively) and retinoids, and you’re likely to throw in the towel. And just when you thought choosing the best anti wrinkle cream for women over 50 couldn’t get more confusing, experts start declaring that using retinoids together with AHA and BHA can lessen the effectiveness of either ingredient. Here’s help deciphering the dermatology puzzle.

First, take a look at what the terms mean. Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA, i.e. glycolic acid) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA, i.e. salicylic acid) are both used for skin exfoliation. They are good at removing dull, dead skin cells from our faces. Both of these ingredients are used in many of the best anti wrinkle face creams and washes because as we age, our skill cell turnover creeps to a crawl and thus we need help with sloughing off those pesky, dulling surface cells. Products that contain such ingredients help with fine lines and can improve the skin’s texture and radiance.

Retinoids (i.e. retinol), on the other hand, are derived from vitamin A. It is mostly used in treating skin disorders such as psoriasis and acne. It penetrates deeper into the inner layers of the skin and initiates cell turnover. However, it has also been shown to decrease the size of pores, lessen wrinkles, and even out skin pigmentation and spots. Also, some doctors warn that retinol-based products can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

But when used as directed, it has been proven to make skin smoother and decrease wrinkling. It is used in the best anti wrinkle products. Beauty magazines and women’s magazines tout its effectiveness in article after article.

Many dermatologists recommend against using products containing both ingredients because they could over-dry the skin. Although, some claim that AHAs and BHAs can decrease the overall effectiveness of retinol. To avoid problems, it is recommended that you use retinoid-based products only at night. This will allow it to absorb into the skin and lessen chances of sun-sensitivity during the day. Then, it is fine to use AHA- or BHA-products during the day. The skin can then benefit from deep penetration of the retinol-based cream and the upper-layer exfoliation from the AHA/BHA product.

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