Retinol & Acne

My love affair with Retinol is crucial.  When I run out I feel a bit of a panic.  When I get a new tube I feel like I can breathe again because she’s back in my life and will make all my scary skin issues go away.  Reliable & trustworthy.  We go way back and if anyone tells me that Retinol is nasty and I should get rid of her, I tell them, ever so kindly, to go jump in a lake!  Don’t let anyone with bad brows or that doesn’t love Retinol tell you shit about life!!!

Retinoids come from Vitamin A and gently exfoliate skin cells that don’t shed quickly by themselves. Encouraging an increase in cell turnover is important because supple, youthful skin cells are shielded by older cells for longer periods of time as we age. These hidden cells are radiant and beautiful but can not be seen or absorb all of the yummy treatments we are applying to our skin in the form of serums, moisturizers and such because they are being blocked by all of the dull skin cells that are stuck on the outermost layer of our faces.

In terms of acne, walls of pores are lined with skin cells that aren’t shedding as readily as they should be so the pore becomes the perfect host for bacteria which turns into pimples or acne. Retinoids penetrate the pores and the material inhabiting them to not only kill said bacteria, but exfoliate the cell and reduce inflammation.

The benefits of retinoids don’t stop there! The term for those pesky dark spots acne leaves behind after the angry red inflammation is gone are often called scars, but they aren’t scars; although in serious grades of acne scarring does occur. They are actually discoloration, specifically Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Retinol gets rid of them because clearing your skin means far fewer pimples and therefore far fewer opportunities for PIH, & the improved cell turnover rates means the darkened cells are falling away faster so that one day they will be gone completely (provided you are wearing sunscreen during the day).   Prescription strength retinoids can be irritating but are necessary in more serious grades of acne.

All retinoids should be applied at night because you are more prone to sun damage and sun burn when using Retinol.  They should be applied in a way that allows your skin to acclimate. Usually that means only applying a pea-sized amount two nights in week one. If there is no dryness or irritations after two applications in week one then the following week, or week two, apply the same amount of Retinol treatment three night a week. Continue in this pattern until you’re applying every other night or every night with no sensitivity.


You should note that if you wax or use hair removal creams, are having laser work done, getting a facial, or going on a trip that requires lots of time in the sun, discontinue the uses of retinoids at least 1 week before to avoid unsightly complications.

Do you have a favorite Retinol treatment or an experience that you would like to share? If so, leave a comment in the box below!


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