Angie, the host of Hot & Flashy - youtube.com / user / HotandFlashy - asked, “Aside from acne, is there any reason for people in their 20’s and early 30’s to use Retin A, and conversely, are their reasons not to?
Angie, I’m really flattered that you who clearly know a great deal about this stuff still directed this question to me… and I’m VERY excited to answer it because I have a very definite opinion.
We first need to put this question into context. The two uses of Retin A, the best known brand name of tretinoin, is for anti acne and anti aging, so the question becomes, should people in their 20s and 30s use retin a for anti-aging?
I’d like to break my answer down into two separate issues. First, do people in their 20’s and early 30’s need anti-aging treatments? And second, if so, should they use Retin A?
So first… Yes! In my opinion, people in their 20’s and early 30’s DO need anti-aging treatments. And the single most important anti-aging treatment is chemical exfoliation. The way tretinoin works for anti-aging is by… exfoliation… So far, so good.
Exfoliation is key as it helps to remove dulling, staining and clogging dead cells that accumulate on the top layer of your skin. Effective exfoliation in turn sends a message to the rest of the skin to do many things including thickening the rest of the live layers of the epidermis - the upper layer of skin - and also tells the dermis, the middle layer to thicken and make new collagen. Turning on collagen production and thickening the two upper layers of skin is absolutely essential to fighting, preventing and fixing fine lines and wrinkles, and photoaging from the sun.
Exfoliation also helps fix the brown discolorations from photoaging.
And, as an added benefit for people in their 20’s and early 30’s, exfoliation helps to prevent and fix clogs that cause acne breakouts.
So it’s a no brainer… Exfoliate every day for anti-aging, even in your 20’s and 30’s.
But here’s the catch… Not with tretinoin!
The two most effective chemical exfoliants are glycolic and tretinoin… but glycolic is the gold standard. Glycolic, when properly formulated, is gentle and does virtually everything for anti aging that tretinoin does. Glycolic has many advantages and none of the potential issues that treinoin does. Those side effects of tretinoin, as Angie mentioned, include increased sun sensitivity and sun burns, skin irritation, possible fetal side effects if used during pregnancy, and even broken capillaries.
To go a step further, I even use glycolics rather than retinoids for most of my acne patients for many of the same reasons. And to reassure the curious, when it comes to anti aging, glycolic has the same research and science behind it as tretinoin.
So Angie… Other than for the treatment of very special cases of acne, I don’t recommend or prescribe tretinoin. And while it’s been shown to be effective as an anti aging topical in people well over 40, in my opinion and experience, having performed over 45,000 in-office glycolic treatments, glycolic at all ages is the best option.