Today I’d like to talk to you about Retin-A and tell you what it is, what it’s used for, and what the issues or side effects are that some people experience when they use it. Retin-A is a brand name for a drug called tretinoin, and tretinoin is a derivative of Vitamin-A; it’s really the acid form of Vitamin-A, so another name for Retin-A is retinoic acid. It’s a fairly versatile prescription medication which is used both to treat acne and to treat photo-aging. Both of those treatments are based on Retin-A’s ability to decrease cell turn over which is really what all exfoliants do. In the treatment of acne its exfoliation powers, just like other exfoliants, results in extrusions of the clogs in the follicles and actually dissolves the clogs in the follicles to make them come out easier and also help to prevent more clogging of more follicles. When treating photo-aging it again works like other exfoliants, first in helping to remove the dead cells in the surface of the epidermis which makes the skin look brighter, more lustrous and more even, also helps to remove some of the dead cells which have extra browns in them. So it helps to correct brown pigmentation and like most other exfoliants, it sends a message to the dermis to fibroblasts to wake up and make some more collagen. When that happens, it helps to fill in fine lines and wrinkles. Some people who use Retin-A do experience side effects and the most common one is irritation and flaking and that’s because it’s a fairly potent, strong medicine. To help reduce that irritation, it was reformulated into what’s called Retin-A Micro and in the micro form its encapsulated in these little spheres that are time release capsules so it releases the active ingredient which causes the potential irritation more slowly and helps to avoid the irritation. Anyone who uses Retin-A can become more sensitive to the sun which means you more easily get a sunburn so of course you need to have strict sun protection with sunscreen. In addition, people who have used Retin-A for long periods of time can increase the appearance of some small broken capillaries in their skin. And lastly, because Retin-A can have potential harmful effects to a forming fetus, you can’t use Retin-A if you’re pregnant. Retin-A, like all other forms of tretinoin like Avita, Renova and Yanova, should be used only under the direction and by prescription of a physician. Retin-A is a fairly good exfoliant, but as chemical exfoliants go, I prefer glycolic acid because I prefer to be more versatile, more effective, and have fewer side effects.