If you're looking for a miracle skin care product, this is it

Oct 30, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Image: Evgenyatamanenko/iStock/360/Getty Images

Remember that time you developed the acne of a pre-pubescent boy as a grown woman? Oh wait, that was me. I thought I'd safely made it past the teenage years and into my adult skin, and then I got pregnant and I turned into a hormonal volcano.

My smooth skin turned red with angry and vindictive patches of acne. Once my daughter was born, I was certain my skin would revert back to its youthful glow — but my sleeplessness only added wrinkles and dark spots to the patches of zits and gaping pores. The joys of motherhood.

I tried everything to troubleshoot my skin problems: astringents, toners, gentle cleansers, non-comedogenic moisturizers and makeup. Nothing helped. And then, a girlfriend told me that her dermatologist prescribed a miracle ointment that completely erased a two-inch dark patch on her face within a month. She told me that this miracle drug — which she called Retin-A, but is actually known medically as retinoic acid or tretinoin — is clinically shown to improve acne and wrinkles, too.

It took me all of two days to make an appointment with my dermatologist for my own dose of miracle ointment. He prescribed a version of retinoic acid for my persistent acne. Once I made it past two weeks of dry and flaky skin, I noticed my skin appeared smoother and my crow's feet disappeared. After a month, my pores grew smaller and a glow returned to my skin. After six weeks, the acne was gone for good.

My results were drastic, but unsurprising. "Retinoic acid is absolutely an anti-aging and skin care wonder," explained dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo. Apparently, the drug is a prescription-strength vitamin A derivative that is known to increase cellular turnover. When cells turn over quickly, pores can eliminate the debris and oil that are known to produce acne. "Cell turnover also increases blood flow to the skin and stimulates collagen production, which makes skin firmer, reduces wrinkles and diminishes sun spots and acne scars, too," she said.

Want to give retinoic acid a try? You'll need to make an appointment with your dermatologist for an evaluation, since full-strength treatments are not available without a prescription. Dr. Peredo explained, however, that there are two over-the-counter derivatives of retinoic acid that you can find in drug store beauty products, called retinol and retinaldehyde. "They help prevent and correct the signs of photo-aging much in the same way as prescription products, but the results are not as rapid," Peredo stated.

Do yourself a favor, ladies, and pick up a version of retinoic acid that works for you. There's no need to look for another miracle product, because this is it.

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