Retinol, Retin-A, or Retinaldehyde, oh my! What’s a gal or guy to do?!

Retin-A stinks. Retinol stinks. There! I said it, yes I did and I stand by those opinions. They are formed from over a decade of research, professionally treating myriad skin conditions, my own and those of thousands of clients. Despite having been fortunate in the skin department, guided by the conventional wisdom of the day, I became a devoted glycolic acid, TCA peel-loving, exfoliation junkie. Peel! peel! peel! was the cheer of the day! I came to know myself to have very sensitive, thin, dry skin. It was baby-bottom soft, but oh so fragile.

To many the cheer of Peel! Peel! Peel! continues to be the siren song on the path to better, brighter, youthful skin. I implore you to let it fall on deaf ears and choose to not follow that road-oh-so-traveled. Recall the episode of Sex and the City when Samantha gets a peel?

Have you ever had your face crumble into your cornflakes after using Retin-a? Yea, you totally don’t have to put up with that crap.

I’ve had effortlessly almost-perfect skin, I’ve also had dry, sensitive, and irritated skin and returned to the former when I abandoned the exfoliation carousel.

A better way;
Retinaldehyde is the only form of Vitamin A proven to stimulate collagen production that rivals Retin-A, though unlike Retin-A, it is effective and safe even for rosacea and during pregnancy. It does not cause inflammation or skin sensitivity and is completely stable.
The Osmosis retinaldehyde serums are on the cutting edge, doggedly researched and refined. The Osmosis “Treatment” Vitamin A serums, we recommend allow the skin to remodel itself through increased nutrition, immune repair and collagen and elasticity production and longevity.

In a nutshell:

“In the body, we convert Beta Carotene into Retinol, Retinol into Retinaldehyde and Retinaldehyde into Retinoic Acid (Retin-A)…Retinoic Acid is the only ingredient that requires a prescription even though Retinaldehyde has a similar activity level. Both Retinaldehyde and Retinoic acid are substantially more active (500 times more!) than their Vitamin A counterparts which means that we can use smaller amounts to achieve the desired results. All of the Vitamin A derivatives have a tough time (due to their large size) penetrating through the epidermis. By incorporating Retinaldehyde into a liposome (as in the Osmosis serums), we enhance its penetration and help prevent its oxidation which also occurs with all Retinols.”- Dr. Ben Johnson

VS Quotes and perspective from champions of Retin-A and Retinol (excerpts from the NY Times article, Skin Deep):

Collagen is what gives skin its structure, firmness and elasticity. Repeated sun exposure breaks down collagen and, with age, cells produce less and less collagen to repair the damage. Skin wrinkles, sags and loses fullness. (all fine and good, however: retinol makes the skin incredibly sun sensitive, so…how is this helping anything? and…irritation=inflammation=stress=premature aging, so…yea)

Doctors also warn that newly irritated skin [referring to recent retin-a use] requires vigilant sun protection, and there are some concerns that waxing while using Retin-A may tear the skin.

Retin-A users reported improvements in skin texture, including diminished wrinkles and brown spots. Early studies soon confirmed its anti-aging effects.

The problem with Retin-A is that it may actually make skin look worse — with redness, flakiness and peeling — for up to eight weeks. “But by 24 weeks, patients will see dramatic, marked improvements,” Dr. Lee said.

Dr. Cohen cautions that Retin-A is not recommended for pregnant women or people with rosacea (a condition that causes skin redness). He said it is wise to limit its use with other potential irritants, like glycolic acids and vitamin C.

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http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706889/RETINOL_%28VITAMIN_A%29/#
EWG evaluation and scoring of Retinol:

Other HIGH concerns: Biochemical or cellular level changes; Other LOW concerns: Data gaps, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

About RETINOL (VITAMIN A): Retinol is a potent form of synthetic vitamin A. Data from an FDA study indicate that retinoid ingredients may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin. FDA, Norwegian and German health agencies have raised a concern that daily skin application of vitamin A creams may contribute to excessive vitamin A intake for pregnant women and other populations.

This ingredient may be derived from animals. From PETA’s Caring Consumer: Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, butter, lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics. It is an aliphatic alcohol. In cosmetics, creams, perfumes, hai … read more

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent – Miscellaneous; SKIN CONDITIONING

Synonym(s): RETINOL, 3,7-DIMETHYL-9- (2,6,6-TRIMETHYL-1-CYCLOHEXEN-1-YL) -2,4,6,8-NONATETRAEN-1-OL; DRY FORMED VITAMIN A; VITAMIN A; 2,4,6,8-NONATETRAEN-1-OL, 3,7-DIMETHYL-9- (2,6,6-TRIMETHYL-1-CYCLOHEXEN-1-YL) -, (ALL-E) -; 3,7-DIMETHYL-9- (2,6,6-TRIMETHYL-1-CYCLOHEXEN-1-YL) -2,4,6,8-NONATETRAEN-1-OL; ACON; AFAXIN; AGIOLAN; ALL-TRANS-RETINOL; ALL-TRANS-VITAMIN A ALCOHOL; ALPHALIN