What Does Retinol Do for Your Face: See Why It Is the Best Anti-aging Solution for You

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Retinol is one of the most famous anti-aging ingredients in the world. But what exactly does it do for the face? Does it really work? This article will answer all your questions about this wonder ingredient and how you can incorporate it into your skincare routine.

Retinol is vitamin A in its purest form, meaning that it is a more potent version of the vitamin found in foods like carrots or sweet potatoes. This ingredient does an excellent job of smoothing out fine lines, reducing pore size, and minimizing the look of pores.

“Retinol helps to stimulate collagen production in your skin, improving its texture and elasticity. This leads to healthier looking skin with fewer imperfections,” New York-based board-dermatologist Dr. Jody Levine, MD, explains.

Retinol also promotes normal keratinization of epidermal cells and increased the production of hyaluronic acid in the dermis layer. This leads to an increase in cell turnover, which helps even your skin tone and texture.

You can use retinol either topically or orally. Topical retinol is available over the counter in concentrations up to 2%. But there are a few things you should know before you use this ingredient. Read on to find out.

Retinol vs. Retinoid

Retinol and retinoid are both used in anti-aging treatments. They’re both derived from vitamin A, but they work in different pathways due to the difference in their molecular structure. Retinol’s chemical composition causes it to work more slowly.

Another difference between retinol and retinoid is that the latter has a stronger concentration of Vitamin A. This allows it to bind to the receptors of your skin cells, making them turn over at a faster rate than retinol.

Retinol works in the same way, except it has a lower concentration that causes it to take a longer time to provide similar results. In short, retinol is a milder form of retinoid recommended by most dermatologists to combat signs of aging.

What Does Retinol Do for Acne?

Retinol works by removing the upper layer of skin, which contains dead cells and excess oil that clogs pores. This process removes dirt, bacteria, and other substances from pores, preventing them from becoming infected with acne-causing organisms.

These organisms could cause inflammation in nearby tissues, leading to swelling at the base of affected sebaceous glands. And because retinol unblocks pores, it can reduce the appearance of large pores caused by acne on your skin.

Additionally, retinol helps to promote the production of collagen, which tells your body to make more elastin. Elastin is the protein that keeps your skin tight, hence improving skin texture and reducing scars caused by acne.

What Does Retinol Do for Scars?

Retinol is the most effective topical ingredient for treating scars and other skin problems. It’s able to penetrate deep into your skin layers to help diminish wrinkles while also helping to fade scars.

Retinol works by increasing cell turnover in your skin, which keeps dead skin cells from getting trapped in pores, causing inflammation. Retinol also possesses exfoliating properties that help to remove dead skin cells, revealing newer skin underneath.

Additionally, retinol works by stimulating collagen production. Collagen gives the skin density and firmness, so when it builds up, it fills out creases on the surface of the skin, giving your scar tissue a chance to heal completely.

What Does Retinol Do for Wrinkles?

Retinol is the most effective and popular anti-aging ingredient. It has been studied in clinical settings, and recent studies prove that retinol can successfully reduce wrinkles while improving skin elasticity for a more youthful-looking complexion.

“Retinol works by stimulating collagen production in the dermis layer, which plumps the skin and increases its elasticity. This helps to reduce aging signs like fine lines and wrinkles on the face,” Dr. Levine continues.

Additionally, retinol helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing cell turnover. This helps to break down old skin cells and remove them from your face, revealing younger-looking skin underneath.

What Does Retinol Do for Dark Spots?

Retinol works by speeding up the cell turnover rate (which is how long it takes for a dead cell to shed and a new one to be generated). It makes this process happen much faster, causing dead cells to be removed from the surface of your face more quickly.

“By doing this, retinol allows for new skin to surface without any damaged cells in it. This results in smoother-looking skin that appears younger and healthier,” explains Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.

You can also use retinol to treat other forms of hyperpigmentation, like melasma, age spots, and freckles. It can even help fade acne scars, and brown spots caused by UV damage.

What Do Retinol and Vitamin C Do?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that has been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles, brighten skin tone, and give you firmer-looking skin. It works by increasing collagen and cell turnover in the skin.

When used with vitamin C, retinol is even more effective than when used alone. The two together can fight free radical damage that causes lines and wrinkles and keeps your skin firm and youthful for years to come.

Benefits of Using Retinol

Retinol has been proven to be effective in the treatment of many skin conditions. Below are some of the common benefits of using retinol on your face.

1. Improved skin tone and texture

Retinol helps to improve skin tone by fading acne scars, dark spots, and brown spots caused by sun damage. It does this by exfoliating the uppermost layer of dead skin cells, resulting in new cell generation.

Additionally, retinol helps to improve skin texture by increasing the production of collagen, which is responsible for maintaining elasticity and firmness in your skin.

2. Reduced signs of aging

Retinol provides antioxidant protection for your skin which helps fight against free radicals that can cause age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles to form prematurely.

It also works by increasing the rate at which collagen is produced within the skin. This helps to improve sagging skin on the face, resulting in firmer, younger-looking skin.

3. Reduced pore size

Retinol helps to reduce pore size by reducing sebum production and shrinking oil glands. It also decreases redness and inflammation associated with certain skin conditions.

This ingredient gets rid of dead skin cells that may clog your pores by increasing your cell turnover rate. Plus, it stimulates collagen production, which plumps up your skin and reduces pore appearance.

4. Decreased acne breakouts

Retinol is one of the most powerful and proven treatments for acne. It works by unclogging pores and reducing inflammation associated with acne breakouts.

It also helps to increase cell turnover in the upper layer of the skin. This inhibits the formation of new blackheads and whiteheads before they can develop into visible blemishes on your face.

5. Reduced inflammation

Retinol can reduce inflammation in your face through its anti-inflammatory properties. This is because it works by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase which produces chemicals that cause inflammation.

6. Increased hydration

Retinol helps hydrate your skin by increasing the production of collagen. Collagen is a structural protein that helps to moisturize your skin by making your skin more elastic.

Retinol also increases skin hydration by allowing your moisturizer to absorb into your epidermis at a faster rate. The result is a supple, youthful-looking complexion.

Who Should Stay Away From Retinol?

Retinol has become very popular in recent years due to its effectiveness in treating skin conditions. But unfortunately, there are some people who need to avoid using retinol and go for gentler alternatives.

For instance, if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid retinol altogether because it might cause skin irritation. Studies have also shown that retinol can be dangerous for pregnant women as it can lead to defects in babies.

Additionally, there’s no point in using retinol if your skin will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Like any other active ingredient, retinol needs time to work, and sunlight will only inhibit its positive effects on your skin.

Sunlight naturally breaks down retinol, so most dermatologists recommend using retinol products during the night because they are so strong and can damage your skin when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays during the day.

How to Use Retinol on Your Face

When it comes to using retinol on your face, it’s best to apply it at night because applying it during the day can cause damage to your skin. You should also start with a small amount of retinol on your skin, as using too much will irritate you.

The following steps will show you how to use retinol on your face:

  • Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount of retinol cream onto your fingers.
  • Carefully rub it on your face in small circular motions until your entire face is covered.
  • Wait for 10-15 minutes to give the retinol time to fully absorb into your skin.
  • Apply a moisturizer suitable for your skin type to lock in moisture.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 during daytime hours to prevent sun damage.
  • Use a retinol cream or lotion all over your face, twice daily, for at least four weeks (depending on how sensitive your skin is).


Can retinol reduce wrinkles on your face?

Yes, it can. Retinol helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines by stimulating collagen production and increasing cell turnover in the skin.

It is a great addition to your anti-aging skincare routine because it also helps to prevent sagging skin and reverse signs of aging by making your skin more plump and elastic.

How do you know if retinol is working?

Look out for changes in your appearance or how your skin feels after about 4 weeks of regular usage. This should include smoothness, fewer breakouts, and less redness.

You should also experience increased hydration, reduced pore size, increased elasticity, and improved skin tone.

Can retinol make your face more sensitive?

Yes, it can. Retinol is photosensitive, which means it becomes very sensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It can also cause side effects like irritation and dryness if you have sensitive skin.

For best results, use retinol at night. If you must use it in the afternoon, avoid going outdoors and use sunscreen with SPF30 or above. It is also best to avoid using retinol if you have sensitive skin, as it can lead to severe side effects.

Should you use expired retinol products?

No, you shouldn’t. Expired retinol products will oxidize over time, which means that they won’t work as well as they should.

Moreover, these products can get contaminated by bacteria from the air or your fingers over time. This can increase the risk of infections or other side effects such as redness, dryness, or itchiness.


Retinol is one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients available because it doubles as a wrinkle and acne treatment. It works by speeding up cell turnover and increasing collagen production, which helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Retinoids also work to smooth skin and treat acne by unclogging pores and exfoliating dead skin cells that can cause blocked pores. It’s a very common ingredient and you can find it in many different cosmetic products such as creams, gels, serums, and lotions.

The downside to retinol is that it may increase sun sensitivity, so it’s important to use sunscreen or avoid it altogether if you have sensitive skin. It can also be dangerous for pregnant or breastfeeding women as it can cause defects in babies.

Thanks for reading.

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