It’s All in the Family

Chemical cousins of vitamin A, collectively called retinoids, are popular ingredients in both anti-aging cosmetics and prescription treatments for acne and photo-aged skin. The retinoid family includes the active ingredient retinoic acid (vitamin A acid) and the related compounds retinol, retinaldehyde and retinal esters (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, hydroxypinacolone retinoate) that can all ultimately be turned into retinoic acid by enzymatic processes in skin. Retinoic acid in prescription treatments (product names Altinac, Atralin, Avita, Retin-A, Renova, and Refissa) is the strongest retinoid, and can cause redness, dryness and flaking skin. Non-prescription cosmetics most often contain retinol or retinal esters that have a slightly weaker effect, and generally cause less irritation.

How do Retinoids Work?

Retinoids improve skin texture through several ways, as shown by extensive research that began in the 1980s. Treatment of skin with retinoids results in:

  • increased cell turnover as cells are moved to the skin surface more quickly
  • epidermal thickening
  • increased collagen due to a boost in synthesis and prevention of degradation
  • increased synthesis of hyaluronic acid, a skin component that keeps skin hydrated
  • decreased pore size and fewer clogged pores

Taken together, these have the effect of making skin appear less wrinkled, more luminous, and more evenly pigmented, along with fewer instances of breakouts. These changes typically occur over a period of several weeks to months.

Retinoids are fragile molecules and they degrade upon exposure to sunlight or air. It is best to purchase small quantities of retinoid containing products that are packaged in an opaque metal tube or airless pump container.  Apply them at night, and if used during the day, application of a sunscreen is essential to prevent product breakdown.

MEG 21 and Retinoids


Since retinoids increase cell turnover and exfoliation, some people experience skin inflammation, redness, flakiness and dryness. Layering a moisturizer such as MEG 21 Smooth Radiance Face Treatment or MEG 21 Advanced Formula after retinoid application will help to keep skin hydrated, and minimize the drying effect. These MEG 21 products may speed are clinically proven to have anti-aging results as our research has demonstrated the appearance of decreased fine lines and wrinkles after only 14 days.  MEG 21 with Supplamine is also shown to increase moisturization, elasticity and even skin tone.

A night-day pairing of MEG 21 products with a retinoid can be as follows:

In the morning

–  Wash face with MEG 21 Moisturizing Cleanser and pat skin dry

–  Apply MEG 21 Smooth Radiance Face Treatment or MEG21 Advanced Face Treatment to face and MEG 21 Eye Treatment around eye area

– Apply sun protectant with an SPF of at least 15

–  Apply makeup as desired

In the evening

– Wash face with MEG 21 Moisturizing Cleanser and pat skin dry.

– Use as directed a small (pea sized) amount of retinoid product for entire face. Carefully massage product in so that skin is evenly covered.

– Apply MEG 21 Smooth Radiance Face Treatment or MEG 21 Advanced Face Treatment