Importance of Skin Barrier Health When Using Retinal

The following is a study demonstrating the importance of improving skin barrier strength when using retinal based dermatological treatments:

Cutis. 2006 Oct;78(4):275-81.
Facilitating facial retinization through barrier improvement.
Draelos ZD, Ertel KD, Berge CA.
Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.
The utility of topical tretinoin as a treatment for improving the appearance of photodamaged skin is limited by irritation that occurs during the early phases of facial retinization. The observed side effects are consistent with stratum corneum barrier compromise. This paired double-blinded study was conducted to determine if preconditioning the skin with a barrier-enhancing cosmetic facial moisturizer before beginning tretinoin therapy and continuing moisturizer application during therapy would mitigate these side effects. Women with facial photodamage were recruited and randomly assigned to apply one cosmetic moisturizer to one side of the face and the other cosmetic moisturizer to the other side of the face twice daily for 10 weeks. One moisturizer contained a mixture of vitamins (niacinamide, panthenol, and tocopheryl acetate) to enhance stratum corneum barrier function, and the other moisturizer contained similar moisturizing ingredients but no vitamins. Daily full-face treatment with tretinoin cream 0.025% commenced 2 weeks into the study. Subjects’ facial skin condition was monitored via investigator assessments, instrumental measurements, and subject self-assessments. The results show that improving stratum corneum barrier function before beginning topical tretinoin therapy and continuing use of a barrier-enhancing cosmetic moisturizer during therapy facilitates the early phase of facial retinization and augments the treatment response.
PMID: 17121065 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]