Spa Treatments: The Lowdown on Retinoids

Skincare pros share facts and dispel common misconceptions about retinoids.

  • “Retinoids do not thin the skin,” says Paul Cuthbert, GlyMed Plus. “They do encourage healthy cell turnover, which can cause some initial flaking. Retinoids have a number of other great effects, such as inhibiting the breakdown of collagen and elastin, thereby thickening the dermis and curbing the production of melanin in the skin.”
  • “All retinoids must be converted to retinoic acid before they can be used by the skin,” says Debbie Fitzpatrick, Botanical Science, Inc.
  • “There is no ‘one size fits all’ formulation,” says Gül Zone, Dermaware. “We have more than six retinoid products designed to target different skin conditions, such as acne, aging and pigment control.”
  • “More retinol is not always better,” says Kris Campbell, Tecniche. “Traditionally, higher amounts give better results but also come with higher cost and more skin irritation. Estheticians need to consider the stability of the retinoid used and the testing done by the manufacturer.”
  • “There is no one right amount of retinol. The best concentration of retinol in a product depends on a client’s goals and the health of her skin,” says Lisa Crary, Sanítas. “A product with as little as .03% can generate good results over time. For clients with healthy skin, concentrations of up to 5% can be very effective when monitored by a skincare professional.”
  • “One of the newer ways to use retinol is in combination with other ingredients to achieve what we call acid-free exfoliation,” says DermaQuest’s Lori Ann Griffin. “We combine .025% retinol with four other actives in DermaQuest C Infusion, one of our newest products. The product is soothing and yet gently exfoliates.”