The Secret to Firmer Skin

Find out why retinoids are the key to refreshing and repairing your complexion

how to firm skin

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Retinoids are tried-and-true skin repairers; these derivatives of vitamin A work by preventing collagen loss. They also signal skin to produce new collagen, helping to counteract the effects of gravity, and speed cell turnover, making skin tone more even.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System applied a 4 percent retinol solution on one arm of test subjects three times a week for 24 weeks. The other, untreated arm served as a control. Researchers attributed improvements to increased production of collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), gel-like substances that help the skin retain water. Retinoids not only fixed skin, they helped it function better and in a younger way.

How to Buy: You’ll find retinoids in a variety of strengths and forms. The strongest are prescription-only creams, such as tretinoin (Retin-A), taxarotene, and adapalene. Retinoids also come in lower-strength, over-the-counter forms called retinol. Retinaldehyde, retinyl palmitate, and provitamin A are other retinoid variations you might see on an over-the-counter (OTC) label. Among them, retinol and retinaldehyde are the most effective wrinkle-fighters.

To renew your skin with retinoids:

  • Add a night cream with retinol to your arsenal
    Start off using a retinol night cream two or three times a week in order to acclimate your skin to the ingredient, and apply a peptide-based night cream on your off nights. Retinols aren’t as potent as prescription retinoids, but you should see some positive changes after a few months (stick with it!).
  • Ask your dermatologist for a sample
    After a few months of trying OTC products, if you want more noticeable results, try out a prescription retinoid. Take advantage of free samples. If you like what you see, your doctor can then give you a prescription and help you decide the best course of action. As with an OTC retinol, it’s good to ease into prescription retinoid cream: Try a pea-size amount every second or third night. If your skin feels dry, smooth on a plain moisturizer (try CeraVe or Cetaphil) over the retinoid.

Try these recommended products:

L’Oreal Paris Advanced Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Night Crème

Vichy Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Night

Kinerase Restructure Firming Cream

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