Retinol, tretinoin, and vitamin A are three ingredients that are connected in some ways. However, they are not one and the same.

Retinol is a weaker over-the-counter version of tretinoin, which is a prescription vitamin A derivative. It is highly effective in reversing sun damage and signs of aging. Both retinol and prescription tretinoin have been shown to have an effect on the skin. It’s used in acne treatment, reversal of sun damage (photo-aging), and to improve skin smoothness, texture, and to decrease fine lines and inflammation from rosacea.

When used correctly and consecutively, retinol has been shown to deliver brighter and smoother skin. However, some people find retinol too harsh so they discontinue treatment before they see visible results. For sensitive skin or faces that tend to sag, peptides are a more appropriate alternative to achieve similar results in a milder manner.

There’s a lot of concern about retinol/tretinoin being harsh or irritating to the skin. These products stimulate cell turnover, meaning that new cells push out old cells. This may sound wonderful but if you use too much you will stimulate too much cell turnover and your skin will get flaky and red.

In order to achieve the results you’re after and without irritating your skin you need to start slow. Retinol is a treatment, not a cream, and you do not need a large amount. A pea size or less (a dab) massaged into your skin will go a long way. It may seem like half of your face did not get any. Not to worry, as the cells talk to each other and the message is passed along. You can follow the retinol with your favorite moisturizer.

Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.