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Ask Colleen – Taking Better Care of Your Skin with Retin-A

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Real Patient Question: “I’m in my 30s and have descent skin but I want to make sure it stays that way as I get older. If there is only product to add to my face-wash and moisturizing regime, what would you recommend?” – S.T., Saratoga, CA

Dear S.T.,

It’s wonderful that you’re taking the first steps towards better skin care and it’s okay to start slow. I’ll tell you what I tell all of my patients – the most important thing you can do to keep your face looking young is to use Vitamin A through a retinol product.

For people of every age and every skin type, Vitamin A clears out clogged pores, boosts collagen and elastin and smoothes out skin tone and texture. Vitamin A can literally reverse the signs of aging!

How It Works:

Our bodies naturally convert Vitamin A into retinoic acid which binds to receptors in our skin. This causes the dead skin cells to peel off and reveal a fresh, new layer of glowing skin. And not only that, but the retinoic acid thickens the lower layers of skin which smooth wrinkles and lift and tighten.

Two Types:

For most people, I recommend a RX tretinoin, commonly referred to as “Retin-A” as it is the most effective form of Vitamin A. In the beginning, depending on the RX strength, it will cause some redness and flaking but as your body acclimates, the side-effects should go away in about 4-6 weeks.

For patients with sensitive skin or an active lifestyle, I will prescribe an OTC  retinol product as it will not cause as much redness and flaking during the initial treatments.

To Use:

After your night time cleanse, apply a pea-sized amount topically across your face. Less is more with this product! And be sure to avoid corners of the face (around the eyes, nose and mouth) because the product will cause excessive irritation. The structure of skin encourages topical tretinoin to migrate and bring the benefits everywhere.

Do Not Use:

If you are pregnant, nursing or planning to do any sun-worshiping.


It takes 4-6 weeks to fully acclimate to the product, and as I mentioned, there will be redness and your skin will feel dryer in the beginning because of the dead skin that is peeling off. But, if used consistently, your skin can have smoother texture, reduced pore size and a more even tone revealing a very healthy glow.*

Long-Lasting Benefits:

From this point, your skin just gets better and better. Collagen production, improved elasticity, lifting, tightening, smoothing – I cannot recommend using Vitamin A strongly enough!

– Colleen Shimamoto, 
Licensed Aesthetician + Medical Assistant

To make a skincare appointment with Colleen, call our office at (650) 327-3232 or send an email.

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