Background Photoaged skin can be treated with retinoids, which are natural and synthetic vitamin A derivatives. However, these are photounstable and can cause skin irritation, which is a major limitation in their use in general cosmetics. Retinyl retinoate, which is an ester of all-trans retinoic acid (RA) and all-trans retinol, has reduced toxicity due to blocking of the carboxyl end group of RA and higher skin regeneration activity than retinol. Objectives To assess the efficacy of a photostable retinyl retinoate in treating women over 30 years old with periorbital wrinkles. Methods We conducted two clinical studies with a total of 46 Korean women with periorbital wrinkles, who were not pregnant, nursing or undergoing any concurrent therapy. In the first clinical study, the efficacy of retinyl retinoate was compared with placebo. Twenty-four patients completed a 12-week trial of 0·06% retinyl retinoate applied twice daily to one side of the face and a placebo applied to the other side. In the second clinical study, the efficacy of retinyl retinoate was compared with retinol. Twenty-two patients completed an 8-week trial of 0·06% retinyl retinoate applied twice daily to one side of the face and 0·075% retinol applied to the other side. Efficacy was based on a global photodamage score, photographs, and image analysis using replicas and visiometer analysis (Skin-Visiometer SV 600; Courage & Khazaka, Cologne, Germany) every 4 weeks. The standard wrinkle and roughness parameters used in assessing skin by visiometer were calculated and statistically analysed. Results The retinyl retinoate-treated wrinkles improved compared with wrinkles treated with placebo or retinol, as assessed by both the investigators and the subjects. Also, skin replica analysis indicated significant improvements in retinyl retinoate-treated skin in both studies, especially in average roughness. Conclusions Retinyl retinoate applied twice daily was significantly more effective than a placebo or retinol in treating periorbital wrinkles. Importantly, no severe side-effects were observed.
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