The contemporary skin care market boasts thousands of products, each containing hundreds of active ingredients, offering a vast array of benefits.
Acne control, radiant skin, and less visible signs of aging are among some of the more popular claims made by modern products, and creams and serums containing retinoids are certainly no stranger to the spotlight.
Very few compounds have the ablility to reliably deliver the benefits of retinoids, yet even making a decision on what type of retinoid to use can be a daunting task in itself.
Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are derived from vitamin A; there are seemenly endless types and formulations designed for various purposes.
Retinoids bind to receptors within the cell that affect DNA regulation, and they are intimately involved in the mediation of cell proliferation and differentiation.
Retinoids are common active ingredients in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription creams that bind to nucleic acid (DNA) receptors in the skin cells to:
- Stimulate cellular turnover in the epidermis.
- Thin the top layer of skin.
- Promote collagen production/repair.
- Prevent collagen damage/breakdown.
- Decrease sebum (oil) production.
- Help to clear debris and dead skin cells from pores.
- Play a role in the prevention of skin cancers.
Classes of Retinoids
Some types of retinoids (i.e., retinol derivatives) must be converted (oxidized) to retinoic acid (the biologically active form) after they are applied to the skin in order to be effective.
Recalling one of my favorite college classes, organic chemistry (I know–I know…but it really was interesting…LOL), alcohols (e.g. retinol) are oxidized to form aldehydes (e.g. retinaldehyde), which are subsequently oxidized to form a carboxylic acid (retinoic acid).
Free radicals damage cellular tissue by “stealing” electrons from the tissues in order form stable compounds.
Retinoids are effective antioxidants, which donate electrons (become oxidized) to free radicals, which accept the electrons (become reduced) and form nonreactive compounds that are more stable and do not damage cellular tissue.
Retinol derivatives are commonly found in OTC creams, while retinoic acid derivatives (with the exception of adapalane) require a prescription. Continue reading “What’s a Retinoid? The Role of Vitamin A Derivatives in Skin Care”