What are retinoids?
Retinoids are vitamin A and its natural derivatives.
Retinoids are used by the body in many ways beyond skincare: to improve vision, regulate cell proliferation and differentiation, grow bone tissue, and activate immune function and tumor suppressor genes.
In the context of skin, retinoids stimulate collagen production, normalize melanocyte function, and regulate skin cell turnover, all of which improve pigmentation, skin texture and roughness, and fine lines and wrinkles.
What are retinols?
Retinol is a type of non-prescription-strength retinoid often found in skin aging creams. Retinol is the precursor of retinoic acid, the active ingredient in prescription-level retinoids, like Tretinoin and Retin-A. Because retinols require further conversion to retinoic acid, they are not as potent as prescription-level retinoids.
What are the benefits of retinoids?
Retinoids can improve acne, fine/coarse wrinkles, mottled hyperpigmentation, pore size, lentigines, elastosis, irregular depigmentation, and tactile roughness. They also stimulate collagen production to thicken and repair the epidermis.
Do retinoids help with hyperpigmentation?
Yes. Retinoids can improve mottled or irregular hyperpigmentation.
Do retinoids help with wrinkles?
Retinoids improve wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. Fine lines appear the older you get because your cells produce less collagen (the structural protein of the skin), causing your skin to appear thinner and looser. The less collagen your skin has, the less water it can retain, causing structural folds (i.e., wrinkles and lines).
What about dark circles under my eyes?
Dark circles under the eyes can be caused by thinning skin in the area exposing blood vessels underneath. Because retinoids help increase collagen production, they can help thicken the skin in the area under the eye, therefore, reducing the appearance of dark circles. It is important to note that the effects may be subtle.
What to expect
Do retinoids thin your skin?
No. While they decrease the layer of dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, they have been proven to increase collagen production to actually thicken your skin.
What are the side effects? Are retinoids safe?
Good news! Side effects can be greatly minimized with great instructions and proper use (e.g. appropriate strength level for your skin type, applying oil-free moisturizer, etc.). Some common side effects of retinoids are sensitivity, peeling, or redness. When first starting to use retinoids, retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. We advise using sun protection (but we’re assuming you’re already doing that, right? ). Keep in mind, after a few months of use, your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal.
For those prone to acne, there may be a two to four week “purging” period where you experience acne breakouts before your skin clears up. Patience is key.
Over the past 40+ years, no systemic side-effects or risks on the long-term treatment of topical retinoids have been observed.
At DearBrightly, we don’t accept those we are pregnant or nursing. It’s not proven that topical retinoids are 100% safe for pregnant or nursing women.
Do retinoids make you more sensitive to the sun?
When first starting to use retinoids, photosensitivity can occur, especially if used during the daytime. At DearBrightly, our medical providers only instruct retinoid use at nighttime. Nevertheless, sunscreen to the rescue! Make sure to apply your sunscreen every day. After a few months, your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal.
How long until I start seeing results?
Results vary for prescription-strength retinoids, depending on the type of changes you are expecting to see. The following is a rough time frame:
3 - 4 weeks
3 - 4 weeks
6 - 8 weeks
3 - 6 months
Do retinoids cause acne breakouts?
Retinoids may cause acne breakouts when first using the product for two to four weeks, especially for people with acne-prone skin. This is known as "purging", when your acne gets worse before it gets better and clears your skin.
What should I expect when using retinoids?
When first using retinoids, your medical provider will evaluate your skin and start you off with a strength-level that is appropriate for your skin type. That way your skin can learn to tolerate and build up to a more potent strength. Feel free to communicate with your medical provider on your ongoing progress. You may experience some peeling, dryness, and sensitivity, all of which can be managed and prevented by the right strength and proper usage.
What if I accidentally become pregnant while using retinoids?
You should discontinue using your retinoid as soon as you find out that you are pregnant and connect with your medical provider through the portal.
Will I experience hair loss or liver damage after long-term use of retinoids?
No. There have been no side effects resulting from long-term use of topical retinoids.
How to Use
What products should I avoid when using retinoids?
Since benzoyl peroxide is known to decrease the stability of retinoic acid, benzoyl peroxide and other topical antibiotics should be applied in the morning and retinoic acid applied in the evening.
Also, abrasive cleansers (e.g., face wash with glycolic or AHA/BHA acids) can make the skin more sensitive by damaging the epidermal barrier and should be avoided when using retinoids.
Where can I use retinoids?
You can use retinoids on your entire face, hands, neck, and chest.
How can I avoid bad reactions?
Here are pro tips for getting the best experience when using your retinoid:
Do not use more than a dime-size amount
Using more than a dime-size will increase your risk of dryness, irritation, and redness. It does not increase efficacy.
Start off once a week
If your skin is new to retinoids or you’re starting on a higher strength, start off by applying your retinoid once a week and gradually increase to nightly as your skin learns to tolerate.
Always use an oil-free moisturizer right after applying your retinoid to prevent dryness.
At first retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, but after a few months your skin’s response to UV rays will return to normal. Always make sure to apply SPF daily (important regardless to prevent photoaging).
Apply when skin is completely dry
When your skin is wet after washing your face, it absorbs the retinoids more readily.
Do I have to apply sunblock if I use retinoids?
Yes. Retinoids make your skin photosensitive, especially when you first start using it. Therefore, sun protection is crucial. Although your skin’s reaction to sunlight returns to normal after a few months of use, you should still be using sunblock to prevent photoaging.
When should I apply retinoids? How often?
It is best to apply retinoids at nighttime, starting once every week and increasing frequency to once a day, if you can tolerate it.
Do I need to apply a moisturizer on my skin after using retinoids?
To significantly reduce irritation and dryness, we highly recommend using an oil-free moisturizer.
Can I use retinoids if I have dry or sensitive skin?
Any skin type can benefit from retinoids, even dry or sensitive skin. There are three things to keep in mind:
Your medical provider will start you off with a strength-level that is appropriate for your skin type.
Be sure to moisturize twice daily. We have a product that is designed to be used with retinoids.
Start applying your retinoid once a week and then increase to nightly as your skin learns to tolerate.
Can I use retinoids if I have acne?
Yes. In fact, retinoids are used to treat acne. However, when first starting out with retinoids, you may experience an initial breakout period .
Can men use retinoids?
Yes. Retinoids are not specific to gender.
When should I not use retinoids?
You should NOT use retinoids if you are nursing or pregnant.
Am I too old / too young to use retinoids?
Dermatologists say you can start using retinoids as early as your 20’s for preventative and regenerative photoaging measures. (There is no age restriction for using retinoids, but they are not recommended for children under the age of 13 and we do not accept those under the age of 18.)
Where do you ship to?
Our over-the-counter products ship anywhere in the US. Our prescription-strength retinoids are only shipped in California at this time.
What is your return policy?
For over-the-counter products, all returns or exchanges must be processed within 14 days of receiving the order. Original shipping fees are not covered by DearBrightly.
For prescription-strength products, we offer a 60-day full refund if you're unsatisfied. Before canceling your account though, we encourage you to message your medical provider through the portal with any questions or concerns you have.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with your order ID and the products you'd like to return.
What should I do if I have a bad reaction with my retinoid?
Stop using the product and connect with your medical provider through the portal.
When will I get my prescription retinoid?
From the moment you submit your photos and answer the supplemental questions, you can expect to get your prescription retinoid within 5-7 business days.
Can I use insurance to cover my prescription retinoid?
Insurance companies do not cover prescription retinoids for beauty or cosmetic reasons.
Do the medical providers evaluate other skin conditions?
Our medical providers will only evaluate symptoms of skin aging.
Can I gift products?
You can gift our Rx products to a friend or family ONLY if they also reside in California. All you need to do is provide their name, address, and email in the shipping section when checking out. We'll send them the link to the questionnaire, where they can update their skin profile and medical info for our doctor to evaluate.
Can I choose where I get my retinoid?
Yes, we're happy to provide pharmacy options for you or send in your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice. Let your medical provider know which state licensed pharmacy you'd like to get your retinoid from through the portal.