Why every dermatologist loves this ingredient

Why Every Dermatologist Loves Retinol


Why every dermatologist loves this ingredient

Are you using it yet?

We're guessing you've heard of Proactiv? The founders behind the acne treatment line – dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields – also happen to be the savvy brains behind another skincare brand, aptly named Rodan + Fields, which zeros in on anti-aging treatment systems. The duo were recently in Toronto to talk about a super secret launch from said skincare brand, and while my lips are sealed on those details (guys, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement!), I can tell you my takeaway from meeting with them is that I need to start using retinoic acid like, five years ago.

According to Dr. Kathy Fields, who is still a practicing dermatologist and prof at Stanford School of Medicine in San Francisco, it's all about retinoic acid, which has been around for over 30 years.

"Retinoic acid is still the favoured molecule by dermatologists," says Dr. Fields. "It's vitamin A. It makes the pores look smaller because it debrides the pore [for all you word nerds, that means it unplugs the pore]. It helps normalize cell turnover, which is anti-wrinkle. It helps shed dark skin [think brown spots] and a little anti-cancer."

Wait, anti-cancer?

"If you have sun damaged skin, it helps normalize the epidermis," says Fields.


A few things to know about using retinoic acid:

  • If your retinoic acid is stored in a clear vial or a container that is not air-tight "it's dead," says Fields.
  • Retinol is a less potent derivative of vitamin A (though formulated differently from retinoic acid), and often listed on product packaging (though it can be difficult to determine the amount included in the bottle). Since the formula is less aggressive, it's a better option for those with sensitive skin.
  • You can start using a retinoic acid anytime, says Fields. "Start young. Technically, if you have acne, you're on a retinoic acid, Retin-A from the age of 13, 14, 15."

But the number one anti-aging cream of all time, to infinity and beyond?  Come on, you should know this by now.

The answer is sunscreen. "If you're not protecting your skin, you're toast," says Fields.



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Why every dermatologist loves this ingredient