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The Science Behind Retinoids: How Do Retinoids Work?

The Science Behind Retinoids: How Do Retinoids Work?

There鈥檚 a good chance you鈥檝e come across the term 鈥渞etinoids鈥 鈥 tretinoin, adapalene, and tazarotene are just a few of the most common.聽 In this blog, we鈥檙e going to take a look at the science behind retinoids, and answer some common questions about them, including 鈥how do retinoids work for acne,鈥 鈥what do retinoids do to your skin,鈥 and 鈥how do retinoids prevent wrinkles?鈥

What Are Retinoids?

Retinoids are a vitamin A derivative that is often found in skincare products. As we鈥檝e discussed in previous posts, we believe that retinoids are great ingredients to add to anti-aging products, but they tend to be pretty harsh on the skin. For this reason, you鈥檒l often see retinol in place of a harsh retinoid (and they are different). But, how do they work, and why are they so popular?

How Do Retinoids Work?

Retinoids are tiny molecules that slip between the cells in the epidermis to reach the dermis 鈥 and this is really why retinoids work so well. Where the antioxidant reaches is what makes retinoids so powerful. By reaching all the way down to the dermis, retinoids are able to neutralize free radicals and interact with critical components of our skin.

According to many research sources (like these: 1, 2, 3), retinoids actually trigger epigenetic changes, too (direct changes to the expression of genes and production of proteins that those genes code for). This is remarkable and helps shed some light on the amazing effects we鈥檝e seen retinoids have on diverse conditions:

  • Wrinkles
  • Fine lines
  • Acne
  • Sun damage
  • General hyperpigmentation
  • Uneven texture

Next, we鈥檒l take a look at how retinoids work for specific skin conditions and issues.

How Do Retinoids Work For Acne?

As this research article states, some of those DNA alterations have pathways in common with acne鈥檚 pathogenesis. So, at a cellular level, since retinoids critically change how the skin functions and produces proteins, some specific pathways can be repaired 鈥 thanks to retinoids. Furthermore, we know that retinoids help reduce inflammation, a key consideration in helping individuals prevent acne-related scarring.

Related: How To Add Retinoids To Your Routine

How Do Retinoids Prevent Wrinkles?

Remember those epigenetic changes we talked about above? Some of those changes happen to elastin and collagen-producing cells. As we age, collagen and elastin productions slow down and grind to a halt. However, retinoids can help our bodies replenish this production 鈥 albeit not back to their original rates. And, as we鈥檝e discussed before, wrinkles and fine lines have collagen and elastin (and some other things) to blame!

Synthetic vs Natural Retinoids: What鈥檚 The Difference?

Generally speaking, synthetic and natural retinoids have the same chemical makeup at their core. However, synthetic retinoids tend to come in more concentrated, harsher suspensions. Synthetic retinoids may also contain unnatural 鈥渋somers鈥 (mirror images) of retinoid molecules that act differently on the skin than natural isomers (after all, the skin has two different receptors for retinoids). If you usually prefer natural products over synthetic ones, we don鈥檛 blame you 鈥 we use all-natural retinoids in our gentle Tri-RetinX blend.

You鈥檒l find this blend (which includes Bakuchiol) in our Face Serum and Eye Cream, the first two parts of our three-step 鈥淒ermacosmetics鈥 system. So, go ahead and give retinoids a try; you might just love them as much as we do.