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Retinol is a topical Vitamin A acid referred to as tretinoin or retinoic acid. Retinol is a stable, user friendly, over-the-counter preparation of topical Vitamin A. It has the advantage of causing less irritation and fewer side effects over prescription preparations such as Retin-A™ (Ortho Pharmaceuticals). With long-term use, the results are impressive.
Most of the research on Retinol was done at the University of Michigan. Retinol's effectiveness is due to the fact that skin has receptors for retinoic acid. These receptors are located on the outer membrane of cells and called retinoic acid receptors (RAR). Retinoic acid stimulates cellular replication and differentiation, assisting cells to be healthy and function as they should.
Retinol can be applied to the face, neck, chest and upper arms without limitations. It is best to apply it at bedtime due to the fact that frequent applications may irritate the skin. A moisturizer or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or cortisone cream can be used intermittently for any associated irritation. The risk of sun sensitivity is minimized when used with a sunscreen. Its use in pregnant women is controversial. Most physicians feel that it is best to avoid topical Vitamin A during pregnancy.
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