Do Retinoids Thin my Skin?

The answer is no, so why does my esthetician keep telling me that they do? According to Dr. Leslie Baumann, a board-certified dermatologist and a New York Times best-selling author, here’s why there’s confusion:

Imagine the two layers of skin that we can affect with retinoids: the epidermis (outer layer exposed to the environment) and dermis (the layer under the epidermis that provides the supporting structure).

The epidermis is covered by a very thin layer of dead skin cells called the stratum corneum. Cells are born from beneath and make their way to the surface, but by the time they arrive, they’re dead, causing the skin to look dull and aged. The cells clump together and form hills and valleys in areas of frequent movement.

OCT retinoids as well as prescription strength retinoids loosen the bonds between these dead cells, which allows them to slough off, revealing smoother skin, so when my esthetician tells me that retinoids thin my skin, she is right, but only to a degree. The skin that sloughs away is already dead and in people over 40, the skin really benefits from this process because the cycle of natural exfoliation has nearly doubled since the age of 20.

What my esthetician isn’t telling me is that the retinoid is actually thickening the dermal layer, where deeper wrinkles reside. This layer is where collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid form—and retinoids have proven in clinical settings to increase their production, thickening the dermis and evening out those wrinkles.

Further, retinoids have even been proven to repair skin atrophied through use of steroids as well as UV damage.

So that’s the story. Retinoids are great for my over-40 skin! They’re available in prescription strength, but studies show that even OTC products produce results.

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