Does Retinol Help With Acne?

Does Retinol Help With Acne

Acne is a common skin issue that can affect people of all ages, even adults. When it comes to suffering from acne, it can cause not only scarring and unwanted breakouts, but also affect a person mentally.

Due to this, it is not uncommon for an acne sufferer to seek different products which might help eliminate the problem. Retinoids have become a popular treatment for acne within the last few years. But, does retinol help with acne?

Does Retinol Help With Acne?

Yes, retinol is one of the most effective forms of acne treatment.

Retinol is one of the most effective forms of vitamin A. It increases skin cell turnover and helps clear acne by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria.

However, it’s important to use retinol in moderation because too much can cause dry skin, peeling, and discoloration.

What Is Retinol?

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that are commonly prescribed for treating acne. They are also used to treat other conditions, such as psoriasis and dermatitis.

The most well-known retinoid is tretinoin or Retin-A. It has been around since the 1960s and was originally developed to be used in cancer treatments. 

However, when it was found to be effective at treating acne, it quickly became one of the most sought-after medications for the condition.

It is important to note that while there are many different types of retinoids available on the market today, they all work by stimulating cell growth and differentiation.

This means that they will increase the rate at which cells grow and divide. In turn, this helps to promote healthier-looking skin.

So, let’s take a look at retinol in more detail, and if it can help with acne.

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. It is often referred to as “vitamin A” because it contains both retinaldehyde and retinol. These two forms of vitamin A are what make up retinol.

Vitamin A

The source of retinol is beta carotene. Beta Carotene is a precursor molecule that converts into retinol once inside the body.


Retinaldehyde is a form of vitamin A that does not convert into retinol. Instead, it is broken down into another compound called retinoic acid.

Retinoic Acid

This is the active ingredient in topical retinoids. It works by binding to receptors on your skin cells, which causes them to stop dividing and start growing.

What Is Retinol In Skincare?

The Ordinary Retinol Serum

When it comes to using retinoids in skincare, you should know what they actually do. The first thing to understand about them is that they are derivatives of Vitamin A.

Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Retinol helps to promote cell growth and differentiation, so it is no surprise that it is often used to treat various skin issues.

However, it is not just used for these purposes. There are several different forms of vitamin A, including retinaldehyde, retinol, retinyl esters, and beta carotene.

Of these, retinol is the form that is most commonly used in skincare. It is considered a “super” vitamin because it provides superior benefits compared to others.

How Does Retinol Work For Skin?

As we mentioned above, retinol works by increasing cell growth and differentiation. These two things happen simultaneously, meaning that your skin will appear smoother and more youthful.

This is why retinol is so popular for treating acne. If you suffer from breakouts, then you may notice that your skin becomes less oily and greasy. You may also see a reduction in blackheads and whiteheads.

This is because retinol increases cell turnover, which helps to clear out dead skin cells. Additionally, it stimulates sebaceous glands, which makes oil production lower than normal.

In turn, this helps reduce the appearance of pimples and blemishes.

While it sounds like a good idea, there is some controversy surrounding the use of retinol for acne. Some experts believe that it could potentially worsen existing acne problems.

Others argue that it does not work for everyone, but rather only those who are genetically predisposed to having acne.

Is Retinol Safe To Use?

Retinol is generally considered to be safe. It is approved by the FDA as an over-the-counter medication.

However, it should be noted that there are certain conditions where it is not appropriate. For example, pregnant women should avoid taking it. Also, anyone with liver disease should not take it either.

Additionally, people who have had severe sunburns should avoid it too. This is because it can cause dryness and irritation.

How Does Retinol Work For Acne?

When you apply a retinoid cream or gel, it goes through several steps before it reaches its final destination. 

First, it must bind to proteins on the surface of your skin. Once bound, it then travels to the dermis layer where it binds to receptors on the surface of your cells. This allows the drug to enter the cell and begin working.

Once inside the cell, retinol begins to stimulate cell growth and division. This process speeds up the healing time for any damaged skin cells. As a result, your skin looks smoother and less red.

Why Do We Need Retinol?

When you think about your skin, it is made up of three layers. The outer layer is called the epidermis. This is where the majority of our skin cells reside.

Underneath the epidermis lies the dermis. This is where collagen (the protein that gives skin its strength) resides. 

Finally, just below the dermis is the subcutaneous tissue. This is where fat, muscle, blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, etc., reside.

Vitamins play a large role in maintaining healthy skin. For example, vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails, vitamins C and E are antioxidants that protect against free radicals. 

Vitamins B3 and B5 are needed to produce keratin, which is the main component of dead skin cells. And finally, vitamin K2 is essential to help maintain strong bones.

How To Use Retinol In A Skincare Routine

How To Use Retinol In A Skincare Routine

If you want to try using retinol for acne treatment, it is important to understand how to properly use it. 

Topical application involves applying the product directly to your face. You will typically find a retinol product in a gel or cream form. Sometimes this is known as a serum. 

The best way to use these products is to follow the directions provided on the label. If you are unsure if you are doing something correctly, ask someone else to show you how they would apply it.

Normally, you would apply it after cleansing your face and once you have patted the skin dry, though there is nothing wrong with your skin being damp. 

You may also choose to mix a small amount of moisturizer into the retinol product. This will help prevent the product from drying out your skin or causing a reaction when you first use the retinol.

It is recommended that you apply this mixture once every other day. However, some people prefer to use it daily.

Never start off using it daily, however, as this can cause you to have a very red and dry face. Instead, build up a tolerance to the product. 

It is important to note that retinol may not be beneficial to all acne. It cannot penetrate deep enough into the skin to treat issues like cystic acne, for example. 

If this is something you are suffering from, it is best to speak to a dermatologist who may be able to recommend something stronger.

How Long To See Acne Improvements With Retinol?

Retinol has been shown to improve the appearance of acne within two weeks. However, most people don’t see results until at least four weeks.

This is because your body needs time to adapt to the new changes. Your skin needs time to adjust to the increased levels of vitamin A.

This means that you should expect to see improvements in your skin over a longer period than two weeks.

However, if you do notice an improvement immediately, then this is likely due to the fact that you were already starting to clear up before you started using the product.

What Are The Side Effects Of Using Retinol?

There are no major side effects associated with using retinol. However, there are some minor ones such as redness, drying of the skin, and irritation around the eyes and mouth (you should avoid using it here).

Also, you will need to take extra precautions whilst using retinol such as wearing an SPF due to an increase in sensitivity to sunlight – this also means an increased risk of sunburns.  

If your skin becomes very dry, you may also struggle to wear makeup during the first few weeks of using the product. If the retinol is too strong, mix it with moisturizer to dampen its effects.

Final Words

Retinol has been used for many years by dermatologists to improve the appearance of aging skin and acne. While it does work well at improving the overall look of your skin, it is not a cure-all for everything.

There are many factors that contribute to the severity of acne including genetics, hormones, diet, stress levels, and more.

To get the most benefit from using retinol, it is important to talk to a dermatologist who can determine what type of acne you suffer from. 

They can then prescribe an appropriate regimen for you to use. This is ideal, especially if you have severe acne that cannot be improved by the use of retinol.

If you suffer from hormonal or moderate acne, then you might find that retinol may help your skin to become more clear. The main thing is to be patient, as you may not see results for a number of months.

Consistency is key when it comes to retinol if you want to see results!

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