Retin-A and Renova are both brand names for products with the active ingredient of tretinoin or retinoic acid or vitamin A acid. Generally speaking, Retin-A in its various strengths and forms are used for treating acne and Renova is used to treat fine wrinkles, spotty skin discoloration and rough feeling skin. Because the active is the same though, doctors prescribe them interchangeably sometimes. Renova is often the choice for dryer skin.
Many clients, with a suggestion from a physician, have tried prescription strength retinoids like Retin-A and Renova to mitigate the visible effects of aging only to find themselves not using them. Here are, what I believe to be, the reasons for this:
1. They experience irritation, called retinoid dermatitis; redness, swelling, breakouts, flaking etc. so they stop before improvement of condition/s can be seen.
2. They aren’t getting support on how to use this complex skin care product properly (or they have forgotten) to minimize the irritation and maximize results. No one is looking at their whole skin care routine.
3. They don’t realize that this has to be ongoing. To get the results, the product has to be used. Stop using the product and the effects are lost.
4. They are advised to use daily sunscreen or avoid sun and they know they will not.
5. They realize they can no longer safely do waxing for facial hair removal.
6. Buying and using such a product does not match their values.
I was surprised to read clinical trial data on Renova recently. 24% of patients saw moderate improvement in Fine Wrinkling (36% saw no improvement), 38% saw moderate improvement in Mottled Hyperpigmentation (35% saw no improvement) and 16% saw moderate improvement in Tactile Skin Roughness (49% saw no improvement). Most improvement in the categories was noted during the first 24 weeks of therapy and maintained thereafter with continued use. Details can be found here. Pretty lack-luster results for an expensive high-maintenance product with un-established safety when used for more than 48 weeks.
If, after consideration, you decide to proceed with one of these products, I suggest a 24 week trial to look for signs of improvement. During the trial, follow these best practices:
I don’t like the term anti-aging. I understand the desire to turn back the clock but we need to be graceful and accepting with some aspects of aging. Resist media messages and sales people that use this fear to sell. Many products simply cannot do the things they claim to be able to do! A balanced life that includes whole food nutrition, ample physical activity, and deep connections with family & friends is key to a beauty that reflects health. Intuitively we know this.
How do I decide what I will use in treatments and retail? It takes me a great deal of time.
For every hour I have spent with my hands on a client I have logged countless more reading, researching and sampling products. My collaboration with my formulator offers me extra confidence, as she also does her homework and has been at this for 16 years.
Yes, there are synthetic ingredients that I avoid but the risks of some of them have been overblown--yet another way fear is used to market to women.
“Natural” is the buzzword of the decade and it is important to know that the term isn’t regulated. I chuckle when I see advertising washed in green knowing that it consists of very commonplace ingredients, synthetics included. “Organic” is a term that is regulated, though commonly used without the proper certification. Many ingredients in my own line have met this distinction. Equally important to me is that they perform well, are affordable to many and their ingredient lists are non-manipulated and honest.
Botanicals can reduce inflammation, irritation & hyperpigmentation, improve tone, stimulate collagen, reduce cellular damage and aid in detoxification. They can address all the concerns that come with aging. They work gently for gradual, dependable, beautiful and sustainable results!
"Mineral physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have a long history of being friendly to the body and are especially nice for sensitive and allergic types."
With my clients, these are the points I usually make regarding sunscreen:
Daily sunscreen use is essential when trying to minimize hyper-pigmentation especially after more aggressive treatments using acids, including my vitamin c facial.
Apply your sunscreen after allowing your moisturizer to sink in. Ten minutes or more. Make-up can be layered immediately over it.
Mineral physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have a long history of being friendly to the body and are especially nice for sensitive and allergic types. They are also still the most effective sunscreen ingredients to date against the full UV spectrum. You will see a white cast, especially for the first 10 minutes, but this will fade with a good formulation.
Still searching for a perfect sunscreen with only physical blockers with a matte, non-sticky, non-white finish? Me too. Meanwhile trust that the sticky occlusive nature of zinc oxide is partly why it is so effective. On days when you are wearing zinc you will need to make sure the cleanser you are using is removing it thoroughly.
An SPF 30 does not supply twice the protection of an SPF 15. SPF 30 blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays (when used as instructed) and SPF 15 blocks approximately 94%. Remember the numbers come from the length of time you can be exposed and not burn. SPF 30 allows you to be out 30 times as long as you could be unprotected. In the US our SPF numbers are based on UVB only. Though since 2011 if the product is labeled “broad spectrum” it has been tested and protects against UVB and UVA. A certain percentage of the protection must be from UVA to qualify for this distinction.
Colors that used to pop and give us a healthy glow are now getting neutralized or otherwise altered by the brown (hyperpigmentation) and red (couperose/rosacea) tones that many of us are seeing in our skin. Skin that isn't as uniform in color, firm, or reflective as it once was needs nourishing skin care and new ways to enhance with make-up. Today I will talk about blush make-up solutions.
My two favorite options are outlined below. In either case, take time to blend the second product into the first and build the color in translucent layers. Pause between layers and stop when it looks good. The goal is to suggest a natural flush. This takes surprisingly little product.
Keep hearing about BB Creams? Another all-in-one product you can skip. Here is why:
BB, short for blemish balm or beauty balm, creams are more similar to a tinted moisturizer than a true balm made from oil and wax. Which is to say it is another multiple-in-one product. Like other hybrids claiming to be an answer to layering separate products it may have ingredients that treat/moisturize/protect/conceal/illuminate but the presence of them all don't allow some to perform as intended.
I advise dividing skin products into two major groups. The first are ingredients to moisturize and treat. You can layer these one after the other; for example a facial oil followed by moisturizing gels, serums, lotions or creams. Then allow 10 minutes for absorption before using products from the second group; sunscreens and makeup. Group one products need to penetrate and reach deeper for best results, while group two are designed for the outermost layers of the skin. If they were combined, group two would keep group one from doing their job.
So although the convenience sounds good, it is a little like expecting a parfait of yogurt, granola and fresh fruit to be as good mixed up, stored in the fridge and served tomorrow as it is layered immediately before eating.
Note: If you like the look of a tinted moisturizer or BB cream, all is not lost when using them as your final layer. You still have gained the SPF, pigment (color) and the "finish" the product can offer. If further coverage is needed, just conceal and camouflage those areas. The look will still be overall more natural than using a high coverage foundation all over.
Primers: BB creams, tinted moisturizers or mineral SPFs can act as light diffusing primers and generally contain less silicone then most conventional makeup primers. Silicones lend the slippery smooth feeling but can cause some skin types to become clogged.
Amy Linville is an artist and esthetician that believes simple, sustainable and non-rushed daily skincare and beauty rituals are the foundation for finding comfort in your skin and looks, no matter your age.