Retinol vs Acne: What You Need to Know

Retinol vs Acne: What You Need to Know


When it comes to skincare, there are a million different products and ingredients promising to perfect your complexion. But what exactly does that leave you with? A pretty dizzying amount of information about all the different options for dealing with acne and other skin concerns. It’s enough to make your head spin, especially if you’re trying to figure out which product will work best for you or which ingredients are most important. There are so many different skincare solutions on the market, but we all want the same thing: clear, healthy skin. Luckily, there are a few key ingredients that can help get you there. Retinol is one such ingredient, and it’s also an extremely effective tool against acne and other pimples lurking beneath your skin. Let’s take a look at how retinol works against acne-prone skin, as well as whether it’s more effective than beta-carotene

What is Retinol?

Retinol is an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-aging ingredient that has been popping up in skincare products for decades. Developed by scientists as a synthetic version of Vitamin A, Retinol is found in many moisturizers and serums designed for aging or acne-prone skin. It's used in the blissani Gemma Crema and Very Toney Anti-Aging serums. It’s one of the most effective ways to firm and brighten your complexion, fade dark spots, and prevent wrinkles and acne, too. If you’ve ever bought a Vitamin A supplement, you’ll know that it comes in two forms: retinol and retinyl palmitate. Retinol is the pure and concentrated form of Vitamin A. Retinyl palmitate is a synthetic version of Vitamin A, meaning it’s a bit weaker than pure retinol. As such, retinol is the better choice for skincare as it’s much more concentrated and potent than retinyl palmitate.

How does Retinol work against acne?

Retinol is one of the most powerful antioxidants in skincare. Antioxidants work by fighting off free radicals — unstable molecules that damage our skin and promote aging. Retinol is particularly effective against acne thanks to p-Hydroxybenzoic acid (HBHA), a compound found in Vitamin A that helps fight acne-causing bacteria. Once applied to your skin, retinol will fight off harmful bacteria that cause breakouts. It is also known to decrease sebum production which may result in a less oily complexion. Retinol can also improve the overall appearance of your pores by strengthening the walls that hold in your natural oils. In addition to helping fight acne, retinol also exfoliates dead skin cells, making your complexion brighter and healthier-looking.

typical blemish life cycle diagram includes clogged pore, sebum and zit

Why is it more effective than Beta-Carotene?

Retinol is the pure, concentrated form of Vitamin A, while beta-carotene is a synthetic version of Vitamin A. Retinol is therefore the more potent of the two, and therefore the more effective skincare ingredient. Retinol can do more than just convert to Vitamin A — it is Vitamin A! As such, it’s a more active ingredient that’s more easily absorbed by your skin. Retinol is also more effective than beta-carotene at reducing acne, making it the better choice between the two. When it comes to acne, Vitamin A is known to reduce sebum production, kill acne-causing bacteria, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin A also helps to exfoliate dead skin cells, making your complexion brighter and more evenly toned.

Are there any downsides to using Retinol on acne?

As with all skincare ingredients, there are a few potential drawbacks to using retinol against acne. Retinol is known for causing redness and irritation in some people, so it’s best to be cautious when starting to use it. Retinol may also cause peeling, redness, and irritation at first, but these side effects should subside with time. You can minimize potential irritation by making sure to always patch test retinol products before fully committing to them, and avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight when using retinol. Despite these potential side effects, retinol is a highly effective skincare solution against acne and many other skincare concerns.

Bottom line

Retinol is a potent skincare ingredient that can help reduce acne, fight wrinkles, and promote a more even skin tone. It’s the pure, concentrated form of Vitamin A, making it a more potent choice than beta-carotene. Retinol is also effective at fighting bacteria that causes acne and preventing future breakouts, making it a great choice for acne-prone skin. Retinol can cause irritation in some people, but it’s still an excellent skincare solution for both mature and acne-prone skin.


gemma crema natural and vegan anti-aging serum with hyaluronic acid and retinol

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