FDA Approves a New Drug That May Improve Wrinkles

Differin 0.3 (a stronger version of the previous product, now known as Differin 0.1) was approved on June 19 for use in acne, making it the latest prescription retinoid to hit the market.

The dermatological community is buzzing about this latest product, which is intended to treat acne but could also minimize the appearance of wrinkles more effectively than its previous incarnation.

Differin is less irritating than other retinoids. This could be particularly beneficial to those with acne-prone skin, which can benefit enormously from retinoids but also tends to be sensitive.

First things first: What is a retinoid? A "retinoid" is a family of ingredients that are derived from Vitamin A such as retinoic acid and retinol. Although topical vitamin A is not very effective as a skin care ingredient, other members of the retinoid family such as retinol and retinoic acid have long been used for the treatment of acne and the prevention and treatment of wrinkles.

In over-the-counter skin products, the ingredient is known as retinol (I like RoC Actif Pur Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizing Treatment, Philosophy Help Me, or Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Night Cream).

Your doctor can prescribe a retinoid product with a higher percentage of retinoic acid such as Differin, Tazarac, and Retin-A. So why use retinoic acid?

For starters, dermatologists have known for years that retinoids are the only topical products proven to diminish existing lines and wrinkles. (Every dermatologist I know uses them without fail!) Better yet, a recent study finally confirmed that over-the-counter products with retinol are also effective.

During the study, led by doctors at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, 0.4% retinol (the amount in many over-the-counter products) was applied to 36 subjects with a mean age of 87 up to three times per week. After 24 weeks, the improvement to retinol-treated skin was dramatic, and clearly visible to the naked eye. By stimulating your skin's natural collagen- and hyaluronic acid-production, retinol can actually achieve that elusive goal: It can turn back your skin's clock!

By speeding up skin's cell renewal process - which slows by as much as 50 percent between our third and eighth decades - retinoids can also improve the appearance of stretch marks and scars and help minimize dark patches (such as sun spots). Retinoid products have also been shown to decrease oil production, which is why they can be a great tool in the treatment of acne.

Needless to say, using prescription-strength retinoids or over-the-counter products with retinol is always on my short list of the best things anyone can do for his or her skin. It's never too early - or too late - to start.

Do not use retinoids and retinol when you're pregnant or breast-feeding.

Retinoids are a very important part of a good skin care regimen. Which retinoid to use depends on your skin type. Talk to your dermatologist to see if the newly approved Differin 0.3 is right for you.

Wishing you great skin!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com.

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.

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