Retinol for Acne: Does it Work?

If you have sore, red acne then you know it’s not only a source of irritation but can also be embarrassing. This is particularly true when it’s on your face, which is the first thing most people see when they look at you. If you have moderate to severe acne, then you may find relief with retinol treatment. Here is more about how retinol for acne can work for you.

Pimples on her face

Covering her acne. This woman is feeling self-conscious. Photo via Pexels (CC0).

A Background on Retinol

Firstly, what is it? Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that can be found in foods and also be converted into the retinoic acid that you would find in prescription creams. Scientists have been synthesizing the vitamin since the 1940s.

Retinol is well-known for its anti-aging properties as it stimulates collagen, visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Now, retinol is being hailed as a topical treatment to alleviate pimples.

How Retinol Works to Banish Acne

Rather than just using a surface exfoliator, applying retinol creams enables a deeper process to occur. A retinol cream has the potential to leave your skin looking smoother.

There are prescription and non-prescription retinol products. The strongest, obviously, is the prescription-only ones, which have a high concentration of retinoic acid, such as tazarotene or tretinoin. Then there are the weaker ones and those even more gentle retinol derivatives that are available over the counter. These items are available in cream, serum, oil or lotion forms.

So, how does retinol fight acne? It does so by reducing oil production by oil glands and supporting cell progression, which can keep dead cells from clogging pores in the skin, and helps reduce acne-related inflammation, as well as lowering the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (aka acne bacteria).

What to Expect with a Retinol Treatment for Acne

The skincare treatment can come with its share of skin peeling, crusting, and a red hue, which is because it is basically having a drying effect. Using a gentle facial cleanser and moisturizer can help keep this in check. If you have sensitive skin, you do need to be extra careful about this. Asking your doctor how to use retinol within your skincare routine is always ideal.

Your dermatologist is not likely to suggest you use the prescribed retinol cream every day but instead sparingly, such as once or twice a week, to avoid significantly aggravating the skin. The most common places to apply it sparingly are to your face, neck, hands, chest, and forearms, and it is put on at night. The next day, apply an SPF rating of 15 or stronger.

Do be patient with it as the improvements on acne from retinol treatment may not be seen for 3-6 months. Watch how your skin reacts and if there is severe irritation or peeling or you feel very uncomfortable then see your doctor to lower the strength or dosage of the acne treatment (or stop it completely).

Now you know the potential benefits of retinol for acne, in addition to its collagan-boosting effects. Perhaps best of all, there is a range of retinol-infused products, which means there is something to fit almost any budget.

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4 thoughts on “Retinol for Acne: Does it Work?

  1. Pingback: Does Retinol Work For Acne – The Militant Negro™

  2. I remember having a Retinol prescription cream years and years ago but I don’t think it really helped. But then I had other health issues that were unchecked and untreated, and my skin has changed a lot since. I’ll have to re-investigate Retinol as, even though I don’t have severe acne at all, the spots and bad skin I have do make me very self-conscious at my age. Great post! x

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