Vitamin A creams, known as retinoids, are scientifically proven to help unclog pores, smooth wrinkles, lighten brown spots and improve skin texture. The only hitch is that retinoids in prescription-strength form (which deliver the fastest results) can irritate the skin of first-time users and cause stinging, redness and peeling.
Acclimate your skin by using a retinoid just twice a week, with the eventual goal of applying it every night. Or, build tolerance by starting with a less potent, over-the-counter form of retinoid: look for the words retinol, retinal, retinaldehyde or retinyl palmitate on the label. Pumped into gels, serums and creams, these ingredients take a little longer to show benefits – up to six months.
Retinoid cream or gel such as tretinoin and adapalene, are usually applied to the skin once a day. If you use a retinoid, you must avoid the sun or use a strong sunscreen because it increases your risk of getting sunburn. Before taking isotretinoin, tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has a history of diabetes, asthma, liver disease, heart disease or depression. Isotretinoin must not be taken if you are pregnant because it causes severe birth defects, including malformation of the head and face, mental retardation and severe internal defects of the brain, heart, glands and nervous system. It can also cause miscarriage, premature birth or death of the foetus.