Retinol Peel 3% for Photodamage, Hyperpigmentation, and Acne in All Skin Types

A unique retinol peel and homecare regimen provided clinical improvements to patients of all skin types with aging, acne, and hyperpigmentation concerns.

A physician-strength superficial peel containing 3% retinol is associated with improvements in skin firmness and dermatologist-rated reductions in fine lines and wrinkles, a study in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology suggests.

Participants in the study had either photodamaged skin and/or acne (n=14), Fitzpatrick skin types IV-VI (n=5), or mild to moderate melasma or hyperpigmentation (n=5). Every 6 weeks, under physician direction, participants received a total of 2 to 4 peels containing 3% retinol. A supportive homecare regimen was also provided to participants in addition to the peels. Tolerability and efficacy of the peels were evaluated at each study visit through dermatologist grading, self-assessment, and digital photography. Efficacy included visible reductions in fine lines, wrinkles, mottled pigmentation/melasma, pore size, lack of clarity/radiance, laxity, overall global photodamage, and overall global acne evaluation.

Of the 78 peels administered in this study, all participants with all skin types and conditions tolerated the 3% retinol peel regimens. Many participants had noticeable peeling approximately 3 days after the peel, but these resolved by 7 days. Significant improvement in dermatologist clinical grading of fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, laxity, mottled pigmentation, lack of clarity/radiance, and overall photodamage was documented in participants with photodamaged skin (P <.05). Overall acne severity also decreased over the study period; however, statistical analysis was not performed for the case study groups. Tolerability and efficacy parameters were validated in digital photography immediately after the peel.

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Limitations of the study include the small sample size as well as the lack of a placebo group or active control.

Based on their findings, the researchers suggest the 3% “retinol peel provides a versatile option to the physician to offer to all patients desiring superficial skin rejuvenation.”

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

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Sadick N, Edison BL, John G, Bohnert KL, Green B. An advanced, physician-strength retinol peel improves signs of aging and acne across a range of skin types including melasma and skin of color. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(9):918-923.