Topical Retinoids - Do They Really Increase Collagen Production?

ilovethesea

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Everything I've read about retinoids talks about how they "increase collagen production" and that's why they work so well to decrease wrinkles.

(Actually I think pretty much every anti aging product makes this promise now, that more collagen = better skin)

This study says that retinoids increase procollagen in order to form Type I, III, and IV collagen. The mechanism of action of topical retinoids. - PubMed - NCBI

But Ray seems to think collagen production is bad and associated with aging.

For example here Aging, estrogen, and progesterone, he says "Estrogen, by creating an oxygen deficiency, stimulates first swelling, and then collagen synthesis. Collagen tends to accumulate with aging."

So in that case, how are retinoids actually working? If they really did increase collagen like estrogen does, wouldn't this make the skin look worse not better? I don't think they make the skin swell like estrogen does, in fact there are studies showing retinoids actually decrease skin thickness.

So could the research be wrong and retinoids are working by some other mechanism?

I know in the email exchanges Ray has warned against Retin A making it harder to absorb vitamin A from food and that there was a study that showed a correlation to increased mortality. But he has also suggested applying retinyl palmitate topically, so he must see some benefit to topical retinoids at least at low doses.

Can anyone shed any light on this? @Orion?
 

Orion

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I haven't look into this, but agree that retinoid marketing in skincare is prevalent, along with sunblock, both are probably detrimental. For me avoiding all forms of vitamin A orally and topically over the last year, has my skin looking the best it has since childhood and continues to improve. Have read similar reports with people testing this hypothesis.
 

revenant

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I used it for years and definitely made my skin look better... if something bad was happening underneath then it was pretty well hidden.

Also got rid of some skin bumps that wouldn't go away with any other products.
 

ilovethesea

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there are studies showing retinoids actually decrease skin thickness.

I was wrong about this part, retinoids do seem to increase skin thickness, by producing more collagen. So I'm confused.... I know there are countless people whose skin looks better from retinoids. How can this be if collagen productioin is a bad thing?
Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in vivo
 

Zigzag

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I've been actually using retin-a (tretinoin) for 2 months. It definitely helps for my forehead acne.

Could it get rid of dark. Circles.?
It depends what kind of dark circles you got there. There are many reasons for those to appear. For instance mine won't go away no matter what I use. No diet changes, tretinoin, other meds have helped me reducing those. I suspect bad bone structure underneath or just lack of fat.
Also you don't want to put it directly under your eyes as the skin in that area is VERY thin and you might damage it.
 

ilovethesea

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I haven't look into this, but agree that retinoid marketing in skincare is prevalent, along with sunblock, both are probably detrimental. For me avoiding all forms of vitamin A orally and topically over the last year, has my skin looking the best it has since childhood and continues to improve. Have read similar reports with people testing this hypothesis.

I remember you saying that PUFA oils even applied topically could displace transthyretin the carrier of thyroid hormone and vitamin A. So in theory could block the skin's ability to produce progesterone (therefore increasing local estrogen) . Do you now think differently ? If I remember correctly you were trying to quickly detox PUFAs at the time.

Pretty sure Ray has said that zinc is safe for sunscreen. That's what I use.
 

ilovethesea

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I used it for years and definitely made my skin look better... if something bad was happening underneath then it was pretty well hidden.

Also got rid of some skin bumps that wouldn't go away with any other products.

Yes it made my skin look better too.

For the bumps I think it probably helped not from increasing collagen production, but because vitamin A slows down hyper keratinization (fast shedding of skin cells). I think fast shedding is a factor with lots of skin conditions like keratosis pilaris and acne.

I found this from the old Peatarian quotes Ray Peat Email Exchanges - Ray Peat Forum Wiki "Yes, vitamin A and estrogen are antagonistic, and while estrogen promotes keratinization (shedding of skin cells), vitamin A opposes it. Since vitamin A is highly unsaturated, in excess it suppresses the thyroid, so it has to be balanced with the thyroid; the combination is effective for increasing progesterone and decreasing estrogen, slowing the turnover of skin cells, and making the skin cells function longer before flaking off. "

So that's another mechanism of action for retinoids.... even though the mainstream says it "speeds up cell turnover"... it seems to do the opposite, slow it down!
 
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