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Do You Need Prescription Strength Retinol?

September 30, 2020 | BY R. Motzell

So many blemishes, so little time, what ever will you do? Don’t you ever wish there was some miracle cream out there existing in the land of beauty products that could cure all your facial woes at once? 

Wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, light spots, pimples, clogged pores, sagging-thin skin, etc… sounds a little overwhelming when you list everything at once. But, thanks to the skin care heroes coming up with new formulas everyday, you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune trying to treat every skin issue you're having individually with separate serums, creams and ointments. You might never leave your bathroom if that were the case. 

Luckily, there is one solution to almost all of your skin care impurities, and no, it didn’t just arrive on the market, but it is now available in more ways than ever before, and you no longer need to run to your dermatologist or doctor to be able to use the product.   

What is this supernatural product called? Where can it be found? Is it only for the rich and famous? No silly, we are talking about retinol. Over the counter retinol. 

Doesn’t sound familiar? Sure, you have heard of it; retinoids have been around for years, in one form or another. You may be familiar with its stronger relatives which require a prescription from the doctor called Retin-A or Tretinoin or Tazarotene. 

Retinoids are power players in the world of corrective and restorative skin care products and can also help you level the playing field with your skin when it comes to reversing the signs and effects of aging on your skin. 

Sounds too good to be true? Well, the powerful ingredients in retinoids can make a lot of claims because they are really good at what they do, and most importantly, they work. But, unfortunately, the double edged sword of this concoction happens to be that the ingredient is so potent that it is hard to tolerate on a lot of people’s skin. 

Nowadays there are different versions of retinoids that come in different concentrations and strengths, so with a little bit of product knowledge almost everyone can find the right formula for their particular skin type.

What Are Retinoids?

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, which means they mimic the effects that vitamin A has on the skin. Retinoids can do amazing things for your skin like reduce fine lines and wrinkles and give you that youthful glow by plumping the skin, improving hydration, evening skin tone, and lightening dark spots. But, as mentioned, retinoids are potent and must be used conservatively, especially when starting from scratch.

There are six categories of retinoids. 

  1. Retinyl Palmitate - OTC
  2. Retinaldehyde - OTC
  3. Retinol - strongest OTC
  4. Adapalene - gentlest form of prescription strength
  5. Tretinoin - (Retin-A) prescription strength
  6. Tazarotene - strongest form available by prescription

In order for retinoids to really take effect on your skin they need to be used consistently, and that can be tricky because they can cause irritation to the skin. That is why it is so important to find the right retinol for your skin type. 

Prescription strength retinoids are luckily not your only option anymore, and for some people, they were never an option because of the adverse reaction they had on their skin. Peeling, dryness or redness are common side effects people may experience when you first start using a retinoid, but for many, after your skin builds up a tolerance, regular use of the product is fine. 

Some people’s skin types, however, are just way too sensitive to use a prescription strength retinoid. Luckily, for those people (and for everyone else, too) there are a plethora of effective botanically-derived retinol products that are a lot gentler but still effective.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is the strongest member of the retinol family that can be sold over the counter. It is not as strong as its prescription strength relatives, but it will still produce the desired effects of evening out skin tone and decreasing fine lines on your face. It just may take a little bit longer to see those results, on average about 12 weeks. 

There are many retinol products available, but one easy and effective way to add a retinoid to your skin care routine is by incorporating it in the form of a serum. 

goPure’s Retinol Serum is an intensive serum that also utilizes Vitamin E and Green Tea, so it  simultaneously soothes and calms your skin, too. The retinol serum will help promote brighter and healthier looking skin by targeting the appearance of dark spots as well as fine lines and wrinkles. This product uses pure retinol so it is more effective than some over the counter products that use synthetic forms of the Vitamin A derivative.

If you are looking for an alternative way to add retinol to your regime, or you want to double down on retinoids, our Retinol Cream is a great option, too. Because creams can still cause skin irritation, look for a product that incorporates soothing antioxidants like Vitamins E and B as well as minerals to alleviate any dryness or redness that might occur, especially when first starting to use the product. Green Tea is a natural way to calm and soothe irritated skin as well. 

Another powerful product that features clinically tested retinoic engineering is our Firm and Lift Serum. At the heart of the formula lies the ingredient Granactive Retinoid which has been clinically shown to reduce the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles on the face when used in the morning and at night. This serum also brightens and tightens the skin and fills in the crevices left behind from the lack of collagen production. 

The form of retinol used in this serum is potent but gentle, and usually produces very little adverse effects like dryness and flaking. 

Crawl Before you Walk

For some people, even the over the counter forms of retinoids will still be too strong to use on their highly sensitive skin. For others, the answer might be slowly incorporating the product into your daily routine. 

In the beginning, try using your retinol product every three days until your skin gets a little more acclimated to it. You can even try applying a moisturizer before and after you apply your retinol cream or serum to amp up your skin's hydration, which can help alleviate dryness and flaking.  You can increase applications until you are using it everyday if your skin seems to be responding well. Regardless of how often you use retinol, ensure to use sunscreen regularly since retinol products can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. 

The Takeaway

Regardless of your age, your skin can benefit from the application of a retinol product. Your 20s are actually the perfect time to start using a mild form of retinol to help with the effects of skin damage caused by environmental stressors on your skin. 

long black haired woman smiling close-up photography

There is nothing wrong with using over the counter retinol products, and it is definitely a less expensive way to introduce this type of product to your skin care routine. You may find the perfect concentration for your skin issues in a non-prescription strength formula, or if you are trying to help with deep wrinkles and lines you might have to up the dose. The bottom line is you have to start slowly and cautiously, until you ultimately find the perfect fit.


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