How To Use Retinol If You Have Acne
Put down the toothpaste.
Toothpaste might have been the first product you used in an effort to clear your acne, but hopefully, at this point, you’ve discovered there are better ways to treat flare-ups . But if pimple patches and spot treatments aren’t quite doing the trick, consider turning to something that’s a bit stronger. Enter retinol products for acne. As it turns out, in addition to its anti-aging benefits, the ingredient works wonders when it comes to banishing blemishes.
According to Dr. Howard Sobel, founder of Sobel Skin and attending dermatologic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, “Retinol helps speed up cell turnover and regeneration, and exfoliates keratinocytes, the cells on the outermost layer of the skin.” Additionally, Dr. Sobel says the ingredient unclogs pores, which in turn keeps your skin looking youthful while minimizing and preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
On the other hand, for those with acne-prone skin, Dr. Sobel says to avoid mixing retinol products with ingredients that might irritate blemishes, such as fragrances and oils. “Don’t mix with vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids,” he says. “AHA and BHA acids are exfoliating, which can dry out the skin and cause further irritation if your skin care routine already includes retinol. As for benzoyl peroxide and retinol, they cancel each other out.”
Are you ready to give retinol a whirl to combat your acne? Ahead, find nine products recommended by dermatologists.
How Long Does It Take For Retinol To Work For Acne
Retinol takes several weeks to start to show any benefits in the skin, according to Zeichner. It works by binding to retinoid receptors in the skin, which then turn on genes to rev up collagen production and encourage the cell to divide, he said.
Zeichner also noted that retinol is not a good spot treatment for breakouts that you want to clear up overnight.
How Should You Use Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum
Apply CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum to clean skin daily at night, avoiding contact with eyes and lips.
If discomfort occurs during the first application, the brand recommends spacing out applications until skin adjusts.
Additionally, if you apply this serum during the day, its important to follow with a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours or as much as your lifestyle allows.
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Best Retinol Products Of 2020
King said the important part of retinol shopping is ensuring the active ingredient is retinol rather than a similar-sounding derivative. “And make sure that it is listed high in the list of ingredients, but keep in mind that retinol content of 0.1-percent or less is fairly standard,” she added. Shop the best retinol creams and serums, according to the experts we consulted.
King is a fan of this peel containing .5-percent retinol and 14 percent glycolic acid, a popular type of Alpha Hydroxy Acid . “It resurfaces and stimulates skin renewal, collagen production and decreases hyperpigmentation, sun damage and fine lines,” she noted. There’s also shea butter, which hydrates and softens your skin. Alpha-H also has the Clean at Sephora seal of approval, meaning it doesn’t contain the 50 ingredients the beauty retailer considers problematic.
Natural Gentler Retinols Are Much Better For Your Skin Long Term
You may have read in my previous post the reason why I never recommend getting a prescription retinoid/tretinoin cream, but DO recommend using a gentle, natural serum containing gentler retinoids. Gentler retinoids, such as retinol and retinaldehyde, are a much safer and effective way of treating your acne naturally. While these gentler retinoids arent a permanent fix for acne, they can help clear your pores and improve the texture and tone of your skin while you work on your insides and nourishing your body to repair itself!
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Avne Retrinal 01 Intensive Cream
Instead of retinol, the Avène’s RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream is formulated with its sibling, retinaldehyde, and the brand’s Thermal Spring Water, which soothes and calms the skin in the event of irritation. The brightening cream smooths and evens skin, leading to a more radiant glow. The brand recommends that users apply this product at nighttime and incorporate sunscreen into their daily routines.
When Can You Expect Results
As with most health and beauty regimens, the effects of retinol require patience and time. You might not see results until 6 weeks to 3 months after regular use.
If youre not seeing results or continually experience side effects, talk with your dermatologist about trying a stronger retinol cream or trying a different skin care solution altogether.
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Alastin Skincare Renewal Retinol 5
New York City-based board-certified dermatologist tells us that the retinol in Alastin Skincare’s Renewal Retinol .5 is encapsulated, which improves stability and allows for slower delivery over time. She adds that “the antioxidants, including hydroxymehtoxyphenyl decanone, supports natural hyaluronic acid.”
What else is there? Peredo says that moisturizing silver mushroom and calming oat extract are two other ingredients that greatly benefit skin and ease any irritation associated with the retinol itself.
Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum
CeraVe’s Resurfacing Retinol Serum is another Best of Beauty Award winner that was an easy pick for this list. It’s a “great over-the-counter brightening serum,” New York City-based board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein previously said. “Niacinamide is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich vitamin B3 derivative that has been scientifically shown to help with redness and discoloration in the skin”.
Plus, the encapsulated retinol in this affordable drugstore formula means that it’s released over time and therefore should be more tolerable for sensitive skin.
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What Does The Ordinary Retinol Serum Do
The Ordinary retinol serum makes the appearance of fine lines, photodamage, and signs of premature aging more visible.
The Homy Skin Retinol serum is a water-free solution containing 0.5% pure retinol, an ingredient that eradicates the appearance of fine lines, photodamage, and general signs of skin aging.
It targets signs of aging and improves skin elasticity, texture, and radiance.
How Often Should I Use Retinol For Acne
The retinoids you need to treat acne are strong, so you need to build up your tolerance if you want to avoid the notoriously annoying side effects, says dermatologist Elyse Love, MD . Start off applying a pea-size amount of retinoid once a week at night for one week, then twice a week at night for two weeks, then three times a week at night for three weeks, and so on, says Dr. Love. The goal is to work your way up to nightly use without irritation.
For people who have ultra-sensitive skin and cant get past the twice-a-week mark without their face threatening to revolt, don’t worryyoull still get some benefits even with a lower frequency, says Dr. Love. Her motto: Some retinol is better than no retinol.
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What Does Retinol Do
“Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient in skin care because it alters the behavior of aged cells so they act in a more youthful manner. It smooths and refines skin’s texture, enhances skin radiance and treats aging,” Amanda von dem Hagen, a licensed esthetician and international educator for Glo Skin Beauty, told TODAY.
When retinol is incorporated into age-preventive skin care routines, it helps accelerate skin renewal, enhance collagen production and reduce the appearance of aging, uneven texture and age spots.
Applying vitamin A topically in the form of retinol can include the following benefits:
The Inkey List Retinol Serum
Whoever said retinol products have to be expensive was absolutely wrong. We even gave The Inkey List’s Retinol Serum which rings in at a mere $10 a 2021 Best of Beauty Award in the Steals category to prove it. The slow-release, vitamin A blend responsible for smoothing the look of fine lines and wrinkles is retistar stabilised retinol 1% and granactive retinoid 0.5%. Squalane helps cushion the delivery of the retinol while also keeping your skin feeling extra hydrated and soothed.
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What Is Vitamin A And Why Is It Relevant To My Skin
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that comes in two types: retinoids and carotenoids. The human body is wired to convert both types into Retinol and either store it in the liver or transport it throughout the body. When applied topically, Retinol can increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production.
Apply Retinol at night because sunlight can reduce its effectiveness. However, if you apply your Retinol product during your morning skincare routine, always use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher while using retinoids because they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Side Effects Of Using Retinol Products
Retinol stimulates collagen production, so your skin will actually thicken and become stronger after you add this active ingredient into your routine. In general, however, peeling and flaking of your facial skin tends to be most severe when you start to use Retinol, but it eventually subsides. Likewise, as your skin acclimates to Retinol, your acne may actually worsen before it improves! Other common side effects of incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine include skin dryness. However, you can combat this dryness by preemptively incorporating a diligent moisturizing routine into your skincare regime. Slathering your skin with a rich moisturizing cream such as Aprisa Enrich® Night Cream right before you drift off to sleep may be a great option for you!
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When It’s Time To Stop
While sudden breakouts from a product that’s meant to fight breakouts can feel like a major betrayal, it’s worth noting that it won’t last forever. According to Dr. Rabach, you should be in the clear after a week or two . That said, if you’re still getting irritation or clogging after three or four weeks, it may be time to chat with a derm to reevaluate your regimen.
What’s The Difference Between Retinoids Retinol And Retin
You might have previously seen the term retinoid tossed around while consuming skin care content. According to King and Frieling, retinoid is an umbrella term for vitamin A-derived skin care products. Here we briefly explore the main differences between the three ingredients, based on the guidance from MDs we consulted.
Retin-A can be thought of as reversing the outwards signs of aging on the skin, wrote Laura M. Figura, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon, in a blog post for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retin-A improves the cosmetic appearance of the skin, but it also helps treat some functional problems of the skin such as acne and precancerous conditions, such as actinic keratoses, she continued.
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What Is Acne And Who Should Care
Acne commonly affects teenagers, but it can also affect infants, children, and adults. It usually involves a persons face, but the neck, back, chest, and arms can also be affected.
Acne is mainly caused by clogged pores, which can happen when your skin isnt working properly. In people with healthy skin, dead skin cells are removed easily. In people with acne, the skin cant get rid of dead cells as well. Those dead cells can clog pores. Add to that an overproduction of oil by your skin glands and you get acne. All this creates the perfect setting for bacteria to grow, which also worsens acne.
Your genes can also play a role. If your parents had acne, you may be at higher risk of having it.
The main symptoms of acne are:
The different types of acne are:
- Comedonal acne
- Inflammatory acne
- Hormonal acne
Most dermatologists classify acne as mild, moderate, or severe. This takes into account many different things, such as the type of acne, how much acne there is, where it is on the body, and how likely there is to be scarring.
Its also important for the provider to know how acne affects the persons quality of life. Acne that doesnt resolve on its own can cause dark spots and permanent scarring. People with this type of acne often experience social embarrassment and feelings of depression.
Knowing what type of acne you have is significant because the treatments can be different.
Best For Acne Scars: Is Clinical Pro
“This advance serum is an excellent spot treatment for lesions that are inflamed and enlarging,” explains Charlene DeHaven, who is board-certified in both Internal and Emergency Medicine and is also the Clinical Director of iS Clinical. “It contains high levels of wound healers for acne lesions, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants from botanical sources. The strong serum is also packed with vitamins A, C, and E and olive leaf extract.”
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells making them plump.
Zeichner also recommends this serum from First Aid Beautyespecially if you have sensitive skin. “This retinol-based formula is so gentle that it won’t harm even the most sensitive skin,” he says. Its 0.25% retinol concentration makes it especially approachable, while a blend of hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, allantoin, aloe, ceramides, vitamin C, and vitamin E work together to hydrate, soothe, and replenish the skin.
What Our Testers Say
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The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Best for: Anti-Inflammatory, Skin Lightening, Reducing Large Pores
If you are dealing with a combination of redness, acne, and oily skin, this product is an excellent choice. The high concentration of niacinamide works to reduce blemishes, calm irritated skin, and brighten skin tone. This formula also features zinc, which helps balance sebum production.
How to Use: Cleanse the skin. Gently massage a few drops over your entire face. It may be used in the morning and evening. If you use a vitamin C serum in your routine, alternate it with this product. The two products dont work well together, and can limit effectiveness.
Wait Before You Start Using A Retinoid
Try retinyl palmitate for sensitive skin, retinol or retinaldehyde for “normal” skin, or adapalene for oily, acne-prone skin.
Use a pea-size drop of serum, or thin layer of moisturizer, 1x/week for one week, 2x/week for two weeks, 3x/week for three weeks, then every other night indefinitely.
Don’t use acne products, acids, or peels on your face on the nights you use a retinoid, or you’ll risk irritating or burning your skin.
Retinoids can make skin extra sensitive to the sun, causing sunburns or, more annoyingly, discoloration, so load up on SPF 30 or higher each morning.
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About the Author
References:3. Banov et al, 2014 : The Effectiveness of Fatty Acids from Pracaxi Oil in a Topical Silicone Base for Scar and Wound Therapy
Nothing on this article should be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical related matters, please consult with your dermatologist.
Only Use It Where You Need It
Most retinoid directions will tell you to apply a pea-size amount all over your face, but you can also just area treat to avoid a full face of dryness. So if you tend to get hormonal acne on your chin and jawline, only use your retinol there. Seeing whiteheads on just your forehead? Stick to retinol in that area. Just dont think of it as a traditional spot treatment for breakouts, says Dr. Love. Retinols magic is preventative, so it wont help erase any existing zits.
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After 6 Months What Effect Has Retinol Had On My Skin
So, after six months of perseverance and trying to get my skin to adapt or tolerates the Ordinary Retinol 0.5%, I was sadly disappointed. The ordinary retinol serum had an adverse effect on my skin.
However, it made my skin more irritating, but ever since I tried the Homy retinol serum, I have experienced a skincare miracle that makes my skin feel much smoother. I have really noticed many positive effects on my fine lines and wrinkles.
How Long Does Retinol Take To Work For Acne
Most retinoids take about 12 weeks of consistent use to work their magic . It’s worth nothing, though, that aside from flaking and irritation, your skin may “purge,” aka breakouts, during those initial few weeks, which is totally normal. “Those breakouts were going to happen anyway,” says Dr. Marchbein, “using a retinoid just brings them to the surface of your skin faster.” Also very, very important: “Retinoids only work while you’re using them,” she adds. So just because your acne has cleared up doesn’t mean you should stop using them. It’s a treatment, not a cure.
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