Retinol is one of the most well-known, well-researched and well-regarded ingredients when it comes to plumping skin and smoothing wrinkles. As for using retinol for acne? It’s perhaps not the first ingredient most people would think of thanks to the hype around (also effective) ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
But, ask the dermatologists, and they’ll tell you that retinol could just be a smarter all-rounder for preventing and treating blemishes. Allow us to explain…
What is retinol?
Retinol tends to be used an umbrella term for all retinoids (there are different versions which vary in strength and concentration). It’s a powerful active ingredient derived from vitamin A that’s best known for firming skin and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles. It can slow the breakdown of collagen, increase collagen production and boost elasticity to give plumper looking skin.
But, it also has many other benefits such as brightening skin, reducing pigmentation, clearing pores and treating acne. While dermatologists agree it’s a gold-standard ingredient, its potency can be difficult for the skin to tolerate, but if you can introduce it gently, it can make an enormous impact.
Why use retinol for acne?
It can help prevent blemishes
“Retinol can help declog pores, so it can prevent as well as treat acne,” explains Harvard-trained dermatologist, Dr Michelle Henry. It can help to clear excess sebum and it has exfoliating properties to help lift away bacteria as well as dead skin which can block pores and can cause breakouts.
It can help clear acne scarring
“Retinol treats acne scarring in the same way it treats fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr Michelle. “An acne scar is a divot in your skin, the same as a wrinkle, so retinol plumps the area with collagen, the same way it would plump fine lines.”