Cosmeceutical Critique

Cosmeceutical ingredients to use before and after antiaging procedures


Hydroxy acids

Pretreating skin with hydroxy acids increases dermal matrix formation,16 promotes collagen synthesis,17 and hastens stratum corneum turnover.18 Although postprocedure healing times after pretreatment with hydroxy acids has not been studied, it is very likely that pretreatment with hydroxy acids speeds healing time by increasing collagen production and cell turnover. West and Alster showed that pretreating skin with hydroxy acids prior to CO2 resurfacing did not affect the incidence of postprocedure hyperpigmentation.19


Matrikines are peptides that occur when extracellular matrix (ECM) macromolecules are partially degraded. These peptides interact with cell surface receptors and activate intracellular signalling pathways to modulate ECM remodeling.20 Matrikines, such as tripeptides and hexapeptides, have been shown to remove damaged collagen and elastin from the ECM.21 It is thought that these matrikines help to prepare the skin for procedures by freeing up space to allow room for newly formed collagen. Using matrikines at least 2 weeks before procedures may precondition the skin to heal faster.22

The tripeptide glycyl-histidyl-lysine (GHK) is a good example of a matrikine. When it forms a complex with copper (II) ions (GHK–Cu) it can stimulate collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis23 and increase tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases, TIMP-1 and TIMP-2, which play a role in wound remodeling.24

A serum that contains tripeptide-1, hexapeptide-12, lactoferrin, and phosphatidyl serine has been shown to speed resolution of bruises and inflammation when applied after procedures. It is believed that these ingredients activate macrophages to clear hemosiderin from the skin.


Derived from vitamin A, the retinoid family includes compounds such as adapalene, retinol, tazarotene, trifarotene, and tretinoin. Retinoids should be used for at least 2-4 weeks prior to procedures to improve outcomes. Multiple studies have cogently revealed that pretreatment with tretinoin accelerates wound healing.25-27 Kligman assessed healing after punch biopsy in the mid-1990s and found that the wounds on arms pretreated with tretinoin cream 0.05%-0.1% were significantly diminished by 35%-37% on days 1 and 4 and 47%-50% reduced on days 6, 8, and 11 as compared with the wounds on untreated arms.28 A tretinoin pretreatment regimen of 2-4 weeks is supported by the preponderance of studies29 because peak epidermal hypertrophy emerges after 7 days of tretinoin application and normalizes after 14 days of continued treatment.30 Such an approach gives the skin time to recover from any retinoid dermatitis before the procedure is performed. Pretreatment with adapalene requires an earlier initiation period and should be introduced 5-6 weeks before procedures because it exhibits a longer half-life.31

Topical retinoids should not be used after a procedure until re-epithelialization is complete. Hung et al. applied 0.05% tretinoin cream daily for 10 days prior to partial-thickness skin wounding in a porcine model, with results revealing that re-epithelialization was accelerated with preprocedure treatment while use after the procedure slowed wound healing.32

Skin care regimen design by procedure type

Procedures can be divided into six main types: nonablative, such as peels, intense pulsed light (IPL), and vascular or pigmented lasers; microneedling or other procedures that cause open channels into the dermis; injectables such as toxins and fillers; ablative, such as CO2, erbium, and fractionated lasers; sutured wounds; and unsutured wounds. Skincare regimens that are prescribed before and after each of these procedures should take into account the Baumann Skin Type, the procedure type, whether it is pre- or postprocedure, and lifestyle issues such as sun exposure. Once the pre- and postprocedure regimen has been designed, patients should be given specific instructions as to which brands, the exact products, and the order in which to apply them.


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