A Natural Alternative to Retin A

August 28th, 2012 by Tonya Zavasta

Retin AI received this email from a reader:

At age 52, I have been using Copper Peptides for almost one year and added Retin A, two months ago…. I don’t believe in store or commercially bought anti-aging products anymore, but find the research and track record of Retin A and the seeming trustworthiness of Dr. Pickart (CP’s) hard to resist. Both claim to “remodel” skin, and I wonder whether I’d be missing out, long term, not to use them. What do you think?

Nowadays many women, like my reader above, are reaching for the latest discoveries such as Copper Peptides and Retin-A, two patented products promising unique, unrivaled benefits. Retin A chemically exfoliates, while copper peptides assist in wound healing and recovery. Both promise to “remodel” your skin, and they do—after a fashion. But once you understand the science behind it, you’ll see there are easier, cheaper, and healthier ways to do the same job. How do I know? Because I’ve been doing it for the last fifteen years with great results.

What is Retin A?

Let’s take a more careful look. As the product’s name suggests, it is a retinoid, a chemical compound derived from Vitamin A, and is only available by prescription. This by itself sends up red flags for me.

Retin A is commonly used to treat acne, but users discovered that their skin also improved in other ways. This, I believe, is due to the fact that your skin will immediately go into a repair-and-rejuvenate mode after damage is inflicted on it.

Retin-A is known to boost collagen production. But this is something your body will do on its own if you exfoliate enough. Retinoids act on the DNA of the living layers of skin, increasing skin cell turnover and promoting the extrusion matter clogging your follicles. The product’s compounds also prevent the formation of new blackheads or whiteheads.

All these new skin renewing methods base themselves on an old idea: inducing repair by stripping the outer layer of skin, “tricking” the body into producing new cells and making new collagen. “Damaging” your skin is a highly effective way to see a real difference in skin quality. Retin A does that, and in essence that’s why it works. There is, however, a better way to do it. Facial dry brushing accomplishes what all these products and methods claim to do—and then some!

What’s the Bad News?

Retin A PrescriptionAll these benefits come with a price. The effect of increased skin cell turnover can be irritation and flaking, as retinoids make skin very sensitive and susceptible to damage. So sensitive in fact that you must wear sunscreen daily if you go out in the sun even for a few minutes. You cannot use retinoids if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant because it could cause birth defects. Another red flag!

People often give up in the first few weeks of using Retin-A because the irritation causes them to think it isn’t working.

Compare this with facial dry brushing. This practice, too, increases cell turnover, unclogs pores, and increases circulation, but without side effects. No need for sunscreen, either. Initial irritation is very mild and only lasts until your skin grows accustomed to the brushing.

Copper Peptides

The utility of copper peptides was discovered by Dr. Loren Pickart in the late 70’s while researching wound healing. He researched the effects of peptides (small fragments of proteins) on tissue regeneration, eventually patenting several peptides that bind in specific ways with copper. Certain copper peptides help reduce scar tissue formation while stimulating the skin to return to its original condition. It is the wound-healing effects of copper peptides that lead some doctors and dermatologists to use them as a recovery aid after procedures such as chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. Because they are also anti-inflammatory, they are often used in combination with products such as Retin-A.

The Downside of Copper Peptides

As you may suspect, even these “healing” copper peptides don’t come without risk. Here is an instructive quote from www.smartskincare.com:

While moderate use of copper peptides stimulates collagen synthesis and has antioxidant effect…excessive use can have an opposite effect by increasing the levels of free copper [or] triggering excessive production of metalloproteinases. Free copper promotes free radical damage and collagen breakdown, leading to accelerated skin aging. Metalloproteinases can digest collagen and elastin, weakening the skin and causing sag…

The research isn’t conclusive. There are the usual disclaimers—“more studies required.”

I’ve found that skin that is healthy inside-out will automatically kick into recovery mode and rectify purposely induced damage (via brushing as opposed to retinoids), with or without copper peptides. My belief is that topical application cannot increase collagen, but stimulation via facial massage, exercises and brushing can. This is especially true if you give the body the nutrition it needs via a raw food diet to perform these functions. Did you know that some of the best sources of copper in the diet are leafy greens, nuts and seeds?

Facial BrushInstead of adding more pharmaceuticals to your lifestyle, why not go the natural way? You can get the desired effects of Retin A and copper peptides completely naturally and safely by practicing facial dry brushing, especially if you include facial exercises and massage along with a raw food diet. You do not have to rely on the men in white coats to concoct them in a laboratory, or worry about adverse side effects.

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