A Guide to Prescription Retinoids
Prescription retinoids have several names, including Vitamin A, Retinoic Acid, and Retin A. It is a derivative of Vitamin A, which is part of the retinoid family. Prescription Retinoids are a highly effective form of medication that is beneficial in increasing skin cell turnover. In Australia, you can only access retinoids via prescription. This helps ensure that doctors advise patients on the best methods of use.
Prescription retinoid is an effective treatment for irregular pigmentation, acne, photogenic/UV induced aging, and other skin conditions.
How does it work?
There are several ways in which prescription retinoid works. Some of its key benefits include;
• It increases the rate at which old skin cells shed while stimulating the growth of new skin cells. It also works to reduce sebum production while reducing keratinization, the process through which the skin produces excess cells. Both of these factors lead to the formation of comedones or blackheads. Its antiageing factors include helping to improve fine wrinkling, reducing roughness and irregular pigmentation, and increased cell production and turnover.
• It possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce swelling and redness for inflamed acne.
• It promotes collagen production to boost the skin’s strength and elasticity.
How does prescription retinoid compare to other beauty products in the market?
Since it is a prescription medication, it is only possible to acquire a prescription retinoid from a doctor. It is significantly stronger and more effective than other over-the-counter creams. It is also different from retinol, which you can find in stores since it is less potent and classified as cosmetic.
How is it use?
Everybody’s skin is different, and some people may have more sensitive skin than others. It is, therefore, vital that you seek the advice of a doctor on the strength of a prescription retinoid that best suits your skin. In the initial stages of use, you may experience side effects such as peeling, dryness, redness, or irritation, which you can manage by reducing the frequency at which you use the prescription retinoid and applying your moisturizer first as a barrier. Your doctor will guide you through this process.
If you want to achieve the best results from a prescription retinoid, ensure that you use it consistently and in small amounts. Within the first 3-6 months, you are likely to experience significant improvements such as:
• Reduced pigmentation
• An improvement in fine wrinkles
• More uniform skin texture
Acne patients are likely to notice reduced inflammation and the number of comedones after the first 12 weeks of use.
How to apply it
Since prescription retinoid makes the skin very sensitive, it is advisable to use it at night. Ensure that you wear broad-spectrum sunscreen while you are on treatment. Additionally, you should be careful to avoid the more sensitive parts of your face, such as your lips and eyes. Avoid the creases of your nostrils and any irritated areas during application as well.
Who can use prescription retinoid?
Prescription retinoid is generally safe for everyone. However, it is vital that you discuss your medical history and skin profile with your doctor to determine whether or not it is right for you. For instance, prescription retinoid use may not be appropriate for expectant or breastfeeding women and those trying to conceive.
A Prescription Guide to Niacinamide
Niacinamide is a medication available in topical forms: serums, gels, or creams and tablets consumed orally. It is also referred to as nicotinic acid amide or nicotinamide. Niacinamide has an excellent reputation in the world of skincare. Its effects include increasing skin elasticity and brightness, combating the signs of aging and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps fight skin conditions such as eczema and acne, and studies suggest that it might prevent some skin cancers.
How does it work?
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how niacinamide works. However, one of the major theories is that it can stop and repair damage to the skin caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules or atoms that have an uneven number of electrons. Electrons usually occur in pairs. Therefore, when a free radical emerges, it will steal an electron from another molecule or atom to even itself up.
The occurrence of excessive free radicals on the skin can lead to oxidative stress. This occurs when the free radicals start taking electrons from healthy skin cells to restore their balance. The result is damaged cells, which speed up the aging process significantly. Scientists suggest that one of the reasons why niacinamide is such an effective anti-aging component is because it is an anti-oxidant. It can donate an extra electron to free radicals without becoming one itself.
Additionally, niacinamide can boost collagen production, which helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and improve skin elasticity. It also increases the production of lipids and ceramides in the outermost protective layer of the skin. Niacinamide also helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, decrease sallowness of the skin and blotchiness, and reduce redness. It can also combat acne directly by helping to retain skin moisture and reduce sebum production and oiliness.
Who is niacinamide right for?
Niacinamide can be utilized by anyone with dull skin, acne, dry skin, aging skin, or oily skin. It has very few side effects in topical form and is an excellent choice for people with sensitive skin since irritation after use is rare. Another significant advantage of niacinamide is that it is highly compatible with various other skincare products, ingredients, and medications.
How is it used?
Apply topical niacinamide to the face in the same way you would any other lotion. Despite its numerous benefits, it is advisable to include niacinamide into your regular skincare routine rather than using it as the only step.
Start by washing your hands and then cleanse and tone your face. To reduce the chances of a negative reaction on your face, use oil-free and non-comedogenic products. After this, apply the right amount of niacinamide to your face as directed by your doctor or dermatologist. Lastly, apply your moisturizer and sunscreen with at least SPF30+ to your face.
What can I expect?
It takes about eight to twelve weeks to notice the full effect of niacinamide on your face, but you might start to see significant changes after the first or second week of treatment. Over time, you will notice a decrease in wrinkles and fine lines, pore shrinkage, decreased sebum or oil production, increased skin brightness, and reduced skin sallowness and redness.
If you want to achieve and maintain your skin goals, ensure that you use niacinamide regularly and watch your skin shine!
- DermNet NZ, Nicotinamide, <https://dermnetnz.org/topics/nicotinamide/>, accessed 14th June 2020.
- WebMD, Niacin and niacinamide (vitamin B3), <https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-924/niacin-and-niacinamide-vitamin-b3>, accessed 14th June 2020.
- Healthline, Niacinamide: benefits, uses, side effects, <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacinamide>, accessed 14th June 2020.
A Guide to Hyaluronic Acid
You are likely to hear of hyaluronic acid everywhere you go. Celebrities swear by it, it is all over television ads, and even your friends who aren’t inclined to skincare as much say they can’t live without it.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic occurs naturally in our bodies in small amounts. It has many uses within the body, such as acting as a shock absorber and cushioning the joints. It is also used clinically to treat patients with joint inflammation such as arthritis and in eye surgery.
Most acids, such as salicylic and glycolic, have an exfoliating effect. They work by sloughing dead skin cells to reveal the fresh, new skin underneath. However, hyaluronic works differently. It is a moisturizing acid. It offers intense hydration to the skin.
How does it work?
Hyaluronic acid draws water from its surroundings to keep itself moist. It is a humectant. When you apply a hyaluronic acid treatment to your skin, it absorbs moisture from the surrounding, pulling it to the skin’s surface. Therefore, it is advisable to apply the acid on moist skin to prevent it from drawing water from your skin cells.
The benefits of hyaluronic acid go beyond moisturizing. Scientists suggest that it can treat dermatitis and rosacea, and it is excellent in reducing wrinkles. Other studies indicated as follows;
• A study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology measured the effectiveness of hyaluronic in treating wrinkles. Subjects applied hyaluronic-infused creams twice a day for sixty days. At the end of the study, there was a significant improvement in the elasticity and hydration of their skin.
• Another study published in the same journal studied the effects of hyaluronic on the skin of patients who had undergone dermatological procedures in the recent past. They applied the acid to one side of their face, and at the end of the study, tone, complexion, texture, appearance, and moisture level in their skin improved significantly.
• A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology revealed that the new nano-hydraulic acid was very effective. After just eight weeks of use, patients experienced increased elasticity and firmness, reduce wrinkle depth, and better skin hydration.
Who needs to use it?
Hyaluronic acid treatment is ideal for individuals with dry skin or those who want to keep their skin well-hydrated. Its wrinkle-reducing ability also makes it suitable for anyone who wishes to combat the signs of aging. It is very well tolerated, even for individuals with sensitive skin.
How to use it
Hyaluronic is found in many treatments applied on the skin, such as lotions, serums, creams, and gels. It pairs well with retinol and can be used with other skin treatments like niacinamide. It should be used after cleansing and toning your skin and before other heavier or thicker creams or oils. Ensure that you apply it over damp skin.
What can I expect?
You are likely to experience your skin feeling firmer, plumper, and more hydrated immediately after you apply hyaluronic acid. However, results will be visible after about six months of use. At this time, you will notice that your skin looks brighter and more glowy, with fewer wrinkles and fine lines. Your skin will also look and feel more moisturized.
- Goa, Karen L. and Benfield, Paul 2012, ‘Hyaluronic acid: a review of its pharmacology and use as a surgical aid in ophthalmology, and its therapeutic potential in joint disease and wound healing’, Drugs, vol. 47, pp. 536—566. <https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00003495-199447030-00009>, accessed 20 August 2020.
- Schlesinger, Todd E. and Powell, Callie Rowland 2013, ‘Efficacy and tolerability of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid sodium salt 0.2% cream in rosacea’, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 664—667. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23839183/>, accessed 21 August 2020.
- Schlesinger Todd and Powell, Callie Rowland 2012, ‘Efficacy and safety of a low-molecular weight hyaluronic Acid topical gel in the treatment of facial seborrheic dermatitis’, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vol. 5, no. 10, pp. 20—23. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23125886/>, accessed 21 August 2020.
A Prescription Guide to Azelaic Acid
In the recent past, azelaic acid has developed a cult following on beauty forums, Instagram, and skincare blogs, and for a good reason. It might be one of the most effective acne treatments available on the market today.
Azelaic acid is effective in treating acne at every stage. It helps to reduce active acne while clearing up the hyperpigmentation, redness, and scarring that acne can leave behind. It also aids in keeping acne bacteria at bay after your skin heals. Azelaic acid is also highly effective in clearing up rosacea, and it is gentle enough to use on sensitive skin, unlike most other skincare acids.
Azelaic acid is available as a gel, lotion, foam, or serum. It is also mixed with other products to form exfoliants, multi-purpose serums, or gels sold over the counter.
How does it work?
Azelaic acid fights acne by preventing follicular keratinization, killing bacteria, and reducing inflammation.
Two types of bacteria contribute to acne; staphylococcus epidermidis and propionibacterium acnes. These bacteria are naturally found on everyone’s skin, but they tend to breed and multiply in the presence of sebum. That is why people with excess sebum production often end up with acne. Although azelaic acid doesn’t stop sebum production, it helps kill the bacteria that reproduce in it, therefore helping to prevent acne from recurring.
Another significant ability of Azelaic acid is that it can prevent clogged pores. Acne occurs as a result of two main changes to the sebaceous follicles on the skin. The first is follicular hyperkeratinization, where skins cells are shed into the fair follicles in excess, and the second is excess sebum production, which is controlled by hormones. Together, these processes clog pores, leading to a pimple or comedo.
Azelaic acid helps to normalize the skin cells within the follicle, preventing them from sticking together. They can then be carried out of the follicle by sebum without any blockages.
Azelaic acid helps to combat rosacea and acne by reducing inflammation. It does this through its antioxidant properties and ability to track free radicals just like niacinamide, therefore preventing oxidative stress on the skin. It also helps to fade the scarring and hyperpigmentation that occurs as a result of acne.
Who can use it?
Azelaic acid is suitable for anyone, including people whose skin can’t tolerate more potent anti-acne treatments due to sensitivity. It is often combined with niacinamide since both treatments work exceptionally well together.
What are the side effects of Azelaic acid?
Like with any other skin treatment or medication, it is possible to get a reaction from using Azelaic acid. However, it is an ideal product for sensitive skin, so most people are unlikely to experience a reaction.
It is normal to experience a slight tingling sensation immediately after you apply the treatment. However, seek the counsel of a doctor if you experience any peeling, redness, itching, or burning.
How is it used?
For best results, incorporate Azelaic acid into your daily skincare routine. It is often used once a day, either in the morning or evening.
What can I expect?
Azelaic acid starts working on the skin after the first application, but its effects may not be visible for a month of use. After it starts to work, you can expect a significant decrease in the number of clogged pores, decreased inflammation and redness, and reduced acne frequency and size. Over time, you will notice less hyperpigmentation and acne scars.
- DermNet NZ, Azelaic acid, <https://dermnetnz.org/topics/azelaic-acid/>, accessed 16th June 2020.
- Graupe, K., Cunliffe, W. J., Gollnick, H. P., Zaumseil, R. P. 1996, ‘Efficacy and safety of topical azelaic acid (20 percent cream): an overview of results from European clinical trials and experimental reports’, Cutis, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 20—35. <http://europepmc.org/article/med/8654128>, accessed 16th June 2020.
- Passi, S., Picardo, M., de Luca, C., Nazzaro-Porro, M. 1989, ‘Mechanism of azelaic acid action in acne’, G Ital Dermatol Venereol, vol. 124, no. 10, pp. 455—463. <https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2534550/>, accessed 16th June 2020.