Does retinol help with acne? Here is everything you need to know - Serum101 (2023)

Does Retinol Help With Acne? This must be the question you ask yourself after hearing about the amazing benefits of using retinol on your skin. Retinol works on the skin to treat acne. Retinol helps unclog pores, making it effective in treating acne.

Retinol belongs to the retinoid family and, like the rest of the family, is a derivative of vitamin A. Although it is most popular for its anti-aging effects on the skin, it is also an effective treatment for acne and acne scars on the skin.

Read on to find out how it works in treating acne, its side effects as an acne treatment, and most importantly, how to use it effectively as an acne treatment.

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Can Retinol Really Help Acne?

The good news is that retinol helps treat acne. The less good news is that it primarily treats mild to moderate acne effectively. Retinol is a medium-strength retinoid available over the counter in serums, creams, and moisturizers.

While it works for acne, it's not as effective as a prescription retinoid for treating severe acne. However, it is gentler on the skin compared to prescription retinoid.

Several dermatologists confirm the effectiveness of retinol in treating acne. is underneathMarisa Garschik, MD, a dermatologist who said, "Vitamin A derivative helps clear acne by supporting the skin's cell turnover rate."

Various studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of using retinol and other topical retinoids to treat acne. Onefor the studyshows that topical retinoids help treat inflammatory and non-inflammatory forms of acne.

Othersfor the studyconfirms that retinoids can help regulate sebum production in the sebaceous glands, reducing the likelihood of acne breakouts.

Since then, skin care experts have advocated the use of topical retinoids like retinol to treat skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, etc. If you have acne on your skin and are looking for an effective treatment, you can try using a product that contains retinol.

How does retinol help with acne?

Retinol unclogs pores by removing dirt and debris caused by a build-up of dead skin cells and oil in pores. This allows the skin to repair itself to reduce swelling in the skin.

Skin naturally has an epidermal renewal cycle that allows your body to shed dead skin cells to reveal brighter, healthier skin. In addition, the sebaceous glands in the skin produce sebum (oil) to keep the skin moist and thin.

When the sebum produces too much sebum on the skin, it releases it into the pores. Now that the dead skin cells are already on the skin's surface, the oil mixes with them. This causes the pores to become clogged with the mixture of oil and dead skin cells.

If your pores are clogged, bacteria can get into the mixture and cause inflammation and pimples on your face. The retinol removes all the dirt that is clogging the pores. This leads to a reduction in acne on the face.

Retinol exfoliates the skin and not only removes dirt from the skin but also helps prevent further acne from forming on the skin. "Removing dead skin cells prevents pores from becoming clogged, which is the main cause of acne formation on the skin," says Dr. Garshick.

Does Retinol Help Acne Scars?

Yes, it penetrates deep into the epidermis and is converted into retinoic acid. Remove dead skin cells from your face to reveal better, healthier looking skin. When epidermal renewal occurs, the appearance of acne scars is reduced.

It also helps to even out skin and clear up acne bumps. It does this by increasing the production of collagen and elastin in the skin to revitalize it. These two connections help the body repair itself after damage.

The production of these two compounds in the skin naturally decreases with age. Retinol increases production for you, which causes the body to work to restore skin to better condition.

Elastin and collagen production helps replenish skin to keep it smooth and healthy.

How to use retinol to treat acne

As effective as retinol is at treating and treating skin conditions, it can cause annoying side effects if used incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that you use your retinol product correctly.

Not only will this help you get the best result, but it will also help reduce the risk of side effects. Here are some things to know about using retinol on your skin to treat acne:

1. Get the right dosage

Over-the-counter retinol products come in a variety of concentrations ranging from 0.25 percent to 1.5 percent. The strength you need to use on your skin depends solely on your skin type.

For sensitive skin, it's best to use low-level retinol, between 0.25 and 0.5 percent. Starting with a higher percentage can irritate the skin and cause side effects. However, you can step up to a higher dosage after using low-strength retinol without irritating your skin.

For dry skin, the same dosage should be used as for sensitive skin. This is because retinol has a drying effect on the skin and using retinol at low intensity prevents the skin from becoming too dry.

Other skin types can use a high dose. However, always be careful especially if you are a newbie.

2. Start slow and don't overdo it.

One thing you should never do as a retinol newbie or regular is use too much or too often. This will do your skin more harm than good, which is best avoided.

As a newbie, don't rush into using retinol without learning the proper method of application. Only use the retinol two to three times a week for the first few weeks. This will help your skin get used to the ingredient without causing skin irritation.

A small amount of the product is enough to cover the entire face and treat acne. So there is no need to apply too much product to the skin. Using too much can clog pores and reduce the effectiveness of the product.

3. Moisturize your skin

Skin hydration is a must after using a retinol product on your skin. Retinol and other retinoids can dry out the skin, which can cause it to become flaky. Therefore, it is necessary to use a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated.

To do this, it is advisable to use a hypoallergenic moisturizer that does not irritate or cause an allergic reaction.

4. Avoid the sun and protect your skin

The right time to apply retinol to the skin is at night. The next morning, however, you should diligently use your sunscreen. This is because retinol makes your skin susceptible to sunburn and photoaging.

Be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going out in the sun. Do your best to stay out of the sun.

5. Be patient

Who would turn down the idea of ​​getting rid of acne overnight? No one. However, retinol doesn't work that way.

It takes a while to see the effects of retinol on acne.

"It's recommended to wait at least three months before checking if the product is working on your acne," says Dr. Garshick. That means it takes about three months of retinol use to see improvements.

Can Retinol Make Acne Worse?

Yes you can.When you start using retinol to treat acne, your acne on your face may get worse. This phase is called the flushing or adjustment period. It occurs in the first week of product use and typically lasts two to six weeks.

However, retinol is not the cause of acne. When retinol begins to act on the skin, it forces new acne that is developing on the skin to appear so that it can be treated.

Don't stop using your retinol product for fear it will cause acne. Retinol does not cause acne, it can only cause existing acne that has not yet appeared on the skin. He does this so he can work on every bit of acne on your skin.

Does retinol help acne?

Yes, it goes back to treating acne and acne on other skin areas. Simply use the retinol product on your skin the same way you use it for acne on your face. Using retinol helps reduce inflammation and the formation of acne on the back.

Because back acne is caused by long-term accumulation of dirt and sweat on the skin, retinol helps exfoliate your back to remove dirt from your skin.

How Long Does Retinol Take to Help Acne?

It takes about three months of using retinol to treat acne to see significant improvements.

In the first two to six weeks of using retinol as an acne treatment, you may experience what experts call the "cleansing phase." During this time, your skin may experience major breakouts as the retinol works to clear existing acne so it can work on it.

This period usually lasts around 6 weeks, after which the effects of retinol on acne begin to show.

frequently asked questions

Can Retinol be used every night?

If you can. You can use retinol on your skin every night to quickly achieve the desired result. However, your skin should be familiar with retinol before you start using it.

As a first-time retinol user, you shouldn't use retinol too often. Start by using it just 2-3 times a week until your skin tolerates more frequent use.

Should You Hydrate After Using Retinol?

yes you should Moisturizing the skin after using retinol is a very important step. Not only does it help lock in moisture in the skin, but it also prevents the drying effects of retinol on the skin.

After applying the retinol product to the skin for 30 minutes, be sure to hydrate the skin with a hypoallergenic moisturizer.

When should retinol be used to treat acne?

The best time to use your retinol product without risking complications is at night. This is because using retinol in the morning or throughout the day puts the body at risk of sunburn.

Retinol and other forms of retinoids are known to increase the skin's sensitivity to UV radiation. Likewise, the sun lifts and deactivates acne. Therefore, it is recommended to use retinol to treat acne and other skin problems in your night routine.


Retinol is a gold standard skin care ingredient that works for various skin conditions like acne, aging, etc. Using a retinol product is an effective way to treat stubborn acne on the skin.

It works on the skin by exfoliating it to remove dirt and unclog pores. It also regulates sebum (oil) production in the sebaceous glands to reduce the likelihood of pore clogging. This will prevent further acne from developing on the skin.

It also works on acne scars to even out complexion, remove dead cells and bumps and reveal smoother, healthier looking skin.

Thank you for reading.

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