What is the Connection Between Retinol and Acne?

Article Details
  • Written By: Christine Hudson
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Black rhinos and white rhinos are actually the same color: gray. The main difference between them is lip shape.  more...

September 20 ,  1873 :  The Panic of 1873 caused the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to shut down.  more...

Retinol and acne are closely related in that retinol directly stops the normal process required for acne to form. Acne is caused by dirt, debris, and dead skin cells bonding together and blocking the pores. Retinol, a type of vitamin A, is accepted by the skin as a natural substance which promotes proper cell regeneration and helps to break the bonds of clogged pores. Once the protein which holds the cells and dirt together is broken down, they are easily sloughed away, and the acne begins to clear.

The outer layer of the skin has receptors for retinoic acid and usually absorbs retinol more readily than synthetic chemicals or medicines. For this reason, retinol is generally recommended even to those with highly sensitive skin. There are also retinol vitamins or gel caps, which are usually available and can be taken to prevent acne. Many companies that manufacture acne products know the connection between retinol and acne and may include the substance as an active ingredient. The human body, however, does convert beta-carotene to vitamin A naturally, so it is possible to fight acne from the inside out by digesting foods high in beta-carotene.


While the connection between retinol and acne is known by many, and some users have had positive experiences with products containing the vitamin, there are some cautions to take into account. First, retinol applied directly to the skin can make it very sensitive to sunlight, so using a sunscreen or avoiding sunlight after use is typically recommended. It has also been reported in rare cases that higher concentrations of retinol cause tingling in the face and itchy skin. Users should also know that when taken as a supplement, vitamin A can cause toxicity in high doses. Dermatologists understand exactly how retinol and acne work in different skin types, so it may be beneficial for individuals to discuss the product with one before use.

Any skin care regimen should usually be followed regularly, but not excessively, for the proper results. Most retinol-based products come with instructions for use. Individuals should avoid using more than the recommended dosage, as increased doses may cause irritation. Prescription medication may contain higher concentrations of retinol, if over the counter products are simply not doing the trick. Retinol and acne correlate in severity, meaning the more severe the case of acne, the higher the concentration of retinol that may be necessary.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

It's natural for retinol to work for acne. Forms of vitamin A have long been used to treat acne spots. Isotretinoin, a popular oral medication for acne, is just another form of vitamin A and is very effective for most people.

That being said, everyone might not get the same results with retinol. I know people who have had good results but it did not work for me for some reason.

Post 2

@fify-- Retinol is helpful for acne prone skin. It can reduce breakouts, help fade blemishes and also help with fine lines and wrinkles. When it comes to buying a retinol product, it's not really the label that matters but the percentage of retinol.

A face cream may be labeled as a retinol cream but may have a very negligible amount of retinol in it. Always check the ingredients list to make sure that retinol is mentioned as an active ingredient. And ideally, a product should have at least 0.2% of retinol to be effective. So watch out for these factors when shopping for a retinol product.

The first retinol product I purchased only had 0.75% of retinol in it and unfortunately, it did not do anything for my acne breakouts. The one I use now has 0.3% and is working great. Neither of them are labeled for acne prone skin.

Post 1

Many anti-aging creams have retinol in them. Can I use one of these for my acne pimples or do I have to get a retinol cream made specifically for acne?

And how long does it take for retinol cream to work?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?