The short answer is yes.
There is a study on the Retinoid Family, including Retin-A. This study details what every item in the Retinoid Family does and their effect on anti-aging and irritation to the skin. I found another study on OTC products. It shows, that OTC products are effective as well. It doesn’t state which products were used in the study.
All Retinoids take time to work. They work below the skin surface to improve the skin.
The problem with OTC products is what type of container or the packaging they have? Does it lower their ability to be effective for long? How much of the ingredient is in the product? Is there enough of the retinoid in the product to have any affect at all? Has the brand/line ran any studies of their own to see if their product works? Or just gone off of what other past studies have shown?
I am going to suggest that you visit youtube for Caroline Hirons. She does review a lot of higher priced brands/lines. Caroline is going to be doing a series on the Retinoid Family of OTC products. She has contacted a lot of brands for more information on their products and they have answered her. It is interesting how many brands haven’t done independent studies themselves on their formulations.
Yes, from what I have found in these studies and other studies, they do work. You really need to check into the ingredients. Does it have great reviews? Do you think it will be gentle on your type of skin?
An OTC product that has worked for me
I do have an OTC (over the counter product) with a form of Retinoid in it, that has worked for me. It is CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum. I am going to continue, on the nights, that I don’t use my Retin-A to use CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum.
purified water, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, potassium cetyl phosphate, hydrogenated palm glycerides, polysorbate 20, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, peg-40 stearate, hydroxyethylcellulose, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone/vinyldimethicone crosspolymer, triethanolamine, cetearyl alcohol, pentylene glycol, lecithin, xanthan gum, hydroxyacetophenone, phenoxyethanol, citric acid, behentrimonium methosulphate, cichorium intybus (chicory) root extract, tocopherol, niacinamide, alcohol, retinol, ethylhexylglycerin, silica, potassium phosphate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, hyaluronic acid, sodium hydroxide, ceramide 3, ceramide 6 ii, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, carbomer, ceramide 1CeraVe Ingredients for CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum
I must admit that Retinol is pretty far down the list. It seems to contain quite a few moisturizing agents, before we get to the niacinamide, retinol and ceramide(s). I have seen mild results with this product. Yes, only mild. Most products need time and consistent use to work.
CeraVe is a great brand and is known for wonderfully formulated products. So, I am just going to assume that the reason is it less irriation to the skin. I haven’t had irritation with this serum. Quite a few products that contain any Retinols or Retinoids, do cause irritation.