The introduction of retinoic acid and alpha hydroxy acids to skincare products marks the first time consumers saw immediate gratification in their anti-aging quest. It was a boom for esthetics, who now had clients setting up monthly visits to get their acid fix as part of their facial. The results were impressive-plump, taut skin with a reduced appearance of wrinkles. Who wouldn't be hooked.
The problem, however, is that these results are only temporary, and in the long run they actually damage the skin and cause it to age faster than it would if we didn't use the harsh products and techniques. The reason is that when we apply retinoic acid and alpha hydroxy acids to the skin, we are causing inflammation-and inflammation is bad for the skin. When you apply an acid to your face-and this applies to almost every acid, depending on the concentration-you immediately create trauma. This trauma results in swelling. Swelling makes wrinkles and fine lines look better, but only temporarily.
The other effect of these treatments is that they damage the epidermal barrier. The skin, being the intelligent defense mechanism that it is, sees this damage as an assault and seeks to fix the problem. In what is called an "emergency repair response," the skin rushes to repair the damaged epidermis, which speeds up the epidermal turnover rate. Unfortunately, many skincare experts assume that increased epidermal turnover is a good thing-evidence that the skin is returning to its youthful functioning-yet, this forced exfoliation is actually the skin's equivalent of a four-alarm fire.
Ben Johnson, MD "Transform Your Skin Naturally", 2010, Chapter 2, pp. 21-22.
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