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Glycol Acid verses Tretinoin

Asked by Jen 1.86K Rep.

Hi Dr. Schultz,

I would like to alleviate fine lines and wrinkles.  I have been using Alpha Hydrox 14% AHA serum once a week for about a year.  I am noticing dry patches on my skin so I stopped.  I am not sure if the AHA is causing this?  I wear SPF 30 or 70 each day religiously.  I also use BHA exfoliate 2x a week and a moisturizer.

My doctor prescribed tretinoin.  Would this work better than the AHA for fine lines and wrinkles or should I progress to a glycolic peel?

Your advice is greatly appreciated!

Jen answered
    Dr. Schultz 1.86K Rep.

    AHAs can be very effective at treating fine lines and wrinkles. While I don’t know what AHAs are in your 14% serum, clearly you’re not seeing the results you need and are having a problem with dryness. BHAs, especially salicylic acid, are much better for acne treatment than facial rejuvenation (ie. improving lines or making skin glow). My experience with glycolic (my favorite AHA) is that it’s very effective for treating fine lines and wrinkles but requires a glycolic properly formulated with buffering, balancing and ph-adjustment, and that can be used on a daily basis, as daily glycolic exfoliation is the key. My patients who use these types of glycolics  every day are happy about their results, without irritation. You can achieve improvement in fine lines with tretinoin (by itself) but I find that it often has side effects of irritation, sun-sensitization, broken capillaries, and an oily appearance to the skin. Despite that some people like tretinoin but it does trequire a prescription.

    Dr. Schultz answered

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