Aging causes the skin to become dryer, thinner and less elastic. As a result, it can lead to the slow development of wrinkles. There are some cases that wrinkles develop prematurely and this may be due to the lifestyle of a human being and some environmental factors like smoking and too much sun exposure as noted by the Medical News Today. A lot of anti-aging products are available over-the-counter which includes retinol as an active ingredient in order to combat wrinkles.
The MayoClinic.com mentioned retinol as one of the common ingredients in anti-aging creams. Retinol is a vitamin A compound that possesses antioxidant properties which help prevent free radicals from damaging the skin. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center noted that the retinol concentration present in over-the-counter products is not FDA regulated so it may contain only small amounts of active retinol producing very little effect on fine lines or in some cases, nothing at all.
The “Archives of Dermatology” a study in 2007 which was conducted by Reza Kafi and colleagues, the effectiveness of retinol as a wrinkle reducer was proven. This includes 36 participants with a mean age of 87. They had retinol cream or a vehicle treated cream, without retinol, applied directly to their arms three times a week for 6 months. For those who used retinol showed a decreased appearance of wrinkles on their arms and it is believed that this is due to water retention and increased production of collagen.
Tretinoin is another vitamin A derivative and is commercially known as Retin-A, and is said to be more potent than retinol and is available through prescription only. The University of Maryland Medical Center said that this is the only topical method recognized and regulated by FDA as an effective treatment for wrinkles. Tretinoin helps remove the dead skin cells on the skin surface and helps with the production of collagen to form new skin. This must be applied two times a week for 2-6 months to see visible results.
It is believed that the topical application of both retinol and tretinoin can lead to an increased sun photosensitivity thus making the skin more prone to sun damage. In this case, one must always wear sunscreen protection with or without the sun. For tretinoin, it can even cause more severe side effects because it is much stronger. According to UMMC, tretinoin can cause skin irritation, skin drying, skin thinness and soreness over time because of its higher doses. Additionally, Mayo Clinic mentioned that vitamin A derivatives must be avoided by pregnant women as they can increase the risk of complications in giving birth.
The UMMC noted that retinol can be as effective as tretinoin if used in proper concentration. But since it is not being regulated, it is not easy to measure its potency and effectiveness as a cream. MayoClinic.com mentions too that these cosmetic product ingredients do not have effects on the skin except for their ability to hide some of the wrinkles.