R E T I N O L 


With all the skincare products and ingredients out there that claim to help acne and signs of aging, there's one that's been proven and approved by dermatologists. This is vitamin A, or otherwise known as retinol, retinoids, and retin-A. For those of you who don't know, Vitamin A benefits the skin by targeting specific skin conditions. We'll talk all about what vitamin A is, how it works in your skin, when and how to use retinol products, and provide product recommendations.


Retinol is one of the best-known skin care ingredients on the market. An over-the-counter (OTC) version of retinoids, retinols are vitamin A derivatives primarily used to treat anti-aging concerns as well as acne.

How does it work for our skin?

In a nutshell, vitamin A benefits the skin through Retinoic acid, which works by stimulating the dermis layer (the bottom and deeper layers of the skin). This helps to encourage collagen production, regenerate new cells, and push out the old cells to the surface to reveal...new and clean skin!

What it treats?

Retinol is primarily used to treat the following skin conditions:

  • acne
  • fine lines
  • wrinkles
  • age (sun) spots, freckles, and other signs of sun damage, sometimes called photoaging
  • uneven skin texture
  • melasma and other types of hyperpigmentation
  • large pores caused by acne, oily skin, or collagen loss

To achieve the best results from your retinol-containing skin care product, you must use it every day. It may take several weeks until you see significant improvements.

When can I use retinol products?

Since retinol is known to help with anti-aging and acne-fighting, it's an ingredient best suited for those with mature skin, adult acne, fine lines and wrinkles. If you're reaching your late 20's to early 30's and onwards, using a retinol product can help your skin appear youthful and glowing. But if you're in your early to mid 20's, you can consider using an over-the-counter retinol for prevention and even for your acne.

NOT all Retinols are the same!

Technically, retinol is just one of the many different types of retinoids (the umbrella term for all vitamin-A derivatives, including retinol). A drugstore anti-aging formula, for example, could contain retinyl palmitate (the weakest of the retinoids), or it could contain retinol (the next strongest and most tolerable), retinaldehyde (even stronger), or adapalene (the strongest over-the-counter option that's also specifically formulated to treat acne). Or, you could ask your dermatologist to prescribe you even stronger retinoids, like tretinoin or tazarotene, which work faster and more effectively, but can also be extra irritating.

So which retinoid to choose? Ideally, you'd have your dermatologist walk you through the best option for your skin type. But since you'll probably never make the appointment, we suggest starting with the gentlest of retinoids, like retinyl palmitate (for sensitive or dry skin) or retinol (for all other skin types), moving up to a higher strength formula only after a year. 

Regardless of which retinoid you choose, though, know that they're all effective in the long run. Studies show that you'll reap the same long-term anti-aging effects over time with a low-strength retinoid as you would with a moderate-strength retinoid, so don't feel like using a "weak" retinol won't do anything.