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  • Malkah Areli

Tretinoin or not to Tretinoin? That's the question. :-) Retinoid & Retinols

Hello everyone. My name is Bo and I'm one of the founders of Malkah Areli skincare. I have so many topics regarding ingredients (and skin care in general) I would love to discuss here on our website blog or on YouTube. Unfortunately, time is not always on my side and this "extra" blog or YT channel takes a long time to develop. I apologize. When I was thinking about my YouTube disclaimer ( as I'm not a doctor) I realized I have to start with our beautiful retinoids and retinols. People have a love-hate relationship with these ingredients. And we totally get it. We do, too. :-) Ok, let's start , yeah?

First, some disclaimer- I'm not a doctor. Except for skin, I don't have any brain cells left for biology in my life, unfortunately.

I have some chemistry background, I'm a skincare formulator working with some amazing chemists to develop beautiful and luxury skin care, I'm a businesswoman, but I'm not a doctor. If you have any health issues, find a real doctor. Don't take any advice (regarding your health/ skin health issues) from people on the internet, if they are not doctors.

I'm not really a person with a big social media imprint but I see a lot of ads for skincare brands selling retinoids and hydroquinone and other strong prescription chemical compounds. And I don't think it's a right choice. Of course It's just my opinion, but I have to stand by it. Most of these brands sell it with prescription , some of them don't (btw it is illegal and dangerous to sell these chemical compounds like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone without prescription) but I strongly believe that these chemical ingredients should be prescribed by your doctor/dermatologist who is able to see and examine your skin condition properly, diagnose the issues and prescribe you the prescription. And most importantly, check your progress and how your skin is behaving on this particular prescription. The dermatologist of the skincare brand doesn't do it. It's just simply not possible over the internet. Some of the prescriptions are really potent and taking orally or applying on your skin incorrect strength and dosage can be straight dangerous. That is the reason I am advocating for an office visit with a dermatologist who can properly diagnose your issues and prescribe you the right strength and dosage. But back to the topic.

Retinoid was approved by FDA in 1971, and it was our well known Tretinoin. It was approved for reducing and preventing acne scars, preventing clogged pores and acne. It was found that retinoids contribute to faster turnover of skin cells, improve skin tone and reduce fine lines. There are many types of retinoids, one of the better known is Adapalene. You can buy it over the counter up to 2% strength. Everything over the 2% is prescription. Adapalene is known as an effective acne treatment. There are also oral retinoids but these are only filled by prescription.

Retinoids and their "weaker" cousins retinols are a group of compounds derived from vitamin A (simply speaking).These are beautiful chemicals helping with a lot of skin issues. Like helping with acne, skin tone, hyperpigmentation and fine lines & wrinkles.

We love retinoids and retinol, but retinoids are not always the right choice for everyone, it can come with skin redness, excessive skin dryness, itching, scaling and then there are even more serious side effects that can show up in approximately less than 10% of people, but still. Acne flare ups, extreme skin sensitivity, skin discoloration, eczema flare, skin swelling, blistering skin. People with some skin allergies, excessive dryness, rosacea or redness should definitely consult with their dermatologist first. People with darker skin tones should be more careful about irritation. People have to start slow and in small doses and work up to higher doses gradually.

There are plenty of studies showing that even small amount of retinol or retinoids are effective. Which shows that not always more is better. Too much retinoids too fast can be damaging to your skin barrier. Also, people have to realize that retinoids or any other skin care ingredients can't perform miracles. It takes time. Minimum of 8 weeks to see some results and months to see real results. Any active ingredient takes time to show progress. In case you don't want to wait there are other cosmetic procedures and treatments, like lasers, fillers, chemical peels, etc.

Ok, now what to avoid while using retinols/retinoids. Definitely, don't use any other drying ingredients, like astringents, acids like AHA & BHA, simply said- don't use glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid or other irritants that speeds up skin cells turnover together, in the same skincare routine. First, find out how your skin reacts to your retinoid/retinol dose and don't mix it with other irritants. Add other light irritants slowly and in different time-if needed.

Another known no no is to mix retinol with vitamin C. Even not every chemist would agree with this statement, everything depends on what type of vitamin C you mix with retinol and also what's the formulation, but that's another topic. Generally, no it's not recommended to mix ascorbic acid with retinols. The reasoning behind it is that these 2 ingredients don't work well together, already for the reason of completely different pH. Personally, I would use a product with some retinol and let's say Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, it's a beautiful combo, but again, opinions differ. You can always use retinol at night and vitamin C in the morning if you like, that's fine. There are always some myths surrounding every well known ingredient. Like, for example niacinamide can't be incorporated or should not be formulated in pH less than 6.? Nonsense. But what is definitely not a myth is that you always and I mean always have to use sunscreen. You should use sunscreen all the time, otherwise you'll end up like me with humongous hyperpigmentation :-))) I grew up in a country where we did not even know what sunscreen was at that time. Oh gosh, I'm ... middle aged :-)) No, but seriously, retinol makes your skin really sensitive to the sun. That's the main reason most people use retinol at night and sun is a big no no.

There are some alternatives to retinols, like Bakuchiol or some other plant based ingredients. Some small studies of Bakuchiol show it can perform similarly to retinols without the side effects and irritation. We love Bakuchiol very much. :-)

Malkah Areli is at testing stage of our upcoming new serum with Bakuchiol, vitamin C and other active ingredients. We are very excited, we love it so much, you will love it too, I promise :-) Announcement is coming soon.

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