Clinical vs. over-the-counter
The pros and cons of clinical skin care

What's to fear?

My skin care routine has mostly consisted of cleansing before bed (no matter how many glasses of wine were telling me to skip it and hit the pillow) and then moving through a few simple steps of facial sprays and moisturizers. Easy peasy.

Simple has always been my motto when deciding what to put on my face. More recently, I've become obsessed with preventative tricks to help avoid the regrets that sink in when more wrinkles start to surface.

I had the chance to sit down with Danae Markland from PCA Skin, a clinical brand gaining recognition not only for its skin care products and treatments, but also as educators. I was convinced that since I wore sunscreen every day (OK, not every day) and remained very regimented with my skin care, even if it was a simple routine, that my skin surely wouldn't show any signs of aging. Wrong.

They took a photo of the deepest, darkest layers of skin and showed me the invisible signs of aging just waiting to surface. It really drove home what every skin care professional has ever told me. "Take care of your skin now!"

PCA sent me on my way, and after taking their products for a test drive, a few have become staples in my routine.

you have to trick [your skin] into doing what you want it to do.

Here's what I've learned from Danae and this experience:

Retinols are like magic

As Danae put it, "Retinol is a fantastic ingredient no matter how old you are." Why? Because it does so many things! "Retinol is responsible for stimulating collagen production. It's also great with acne because it breaks down the impaction inside the follicle." But, let's also talk about the other common skin care problem in the room. Hyperpigmentation. Retinol will break down discoloration and exfoliate the dark spots out of your skin at a speedy rate.

"But I had a bad experience!" you say...

Intensive Clarity Treamtent and the Intenstive Age Refining Treatment

"A lot of the time, people shy away from these types of products because of one bad experience," said Danae. But, you shouldn't let one bad experience make you steer clear of such a magical ingredient.

PCA's two popular retinol products, the Intensive Clarity Treatment and the Intensive Age Refining Treatment, will give you similar results to prescription strength Retin-A products without all of the irritation, flakiness and dryness that people tend to experience.

"So, can't I just buy an over-the-counter retinol product?" you might ask. Not exactly. According to Danae, the biggest difference between over-the-counter brands and the more clinical kinds is that clinical brands use higher percentages of active ingredients. "We can get away with it in a clinical setting because the health professional is prescribing it and making sure that it's appropriate."

Chemical peels don't have to make you peel

Cue drying and flakiness, right? Not always. I can't speak from experience on this one, but PCA offers peels and treatments that all have one thing in common: "They allow you to go on with your daily life," said Danae. "You definitely still have to protect your skin after you exfoliate in any way, but you can definitely go on with your daily life."

Supporting ingredients count

Ingredients that fight aging: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, peptides and antioxidants

There's no 'I' in 'team,' folks. While chatting about the magic of retinols to combat conditions like discoloration, rosacea, acne and aging, it's important to note that the supporting ingredients in retinol products are what will help you see even more dramatic results. This could also mean using additional products to really fill out your anti-aging army.

For instance, dark spots. "Our Intensive Clarity treatment is excellent for those [but] we also have spot treatment products for the actual spot itself," said Danae. By using both products, you get faster results. Simple enough!

Your skin can be fooled

As we were talking, I began to notice a common thread. The goal is to fool your skin into doing what you need it to do. "Essentially any skin condition just means that your skin isn't functioning properly. If we can bring it back to baseline, you're going to see healthy results."

An epidermal growth product is one that can help you do this. "[It's] basically going to trick your skin into producing healthy cells. Sometimes you have to trick it into doing what you want it to do."

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Comments

Comments on "Letter from the editor: Why you shouldn't be afraid of clinical skin care"

Christa December 10, 2012 | 1:04 PM

I’ve used a few products (over-the-counter mind you) over the past few years that contained Retinol but was either underwhelmed or had a bad experience. I appreciate what Danae had to say about not letting one ‘bad experience’ keep me away from trying again. It’s interesting to know that there IS a difference between OTC and clinical brands. I might give Retinol another shot!

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