Retinol in Skin Care: Pros and Cons

Retinol in Skin Care is an extremely popular ingredient in the beauty industry. It considered remedy number one in anti-aging skincare products and also used for acne treatment. But retinol is also one of the most discussed compounds for its adverse effects and complications.

What is Retinol and How It Works

Retinol is vitamin A. In a pure form, it is unstable, and that is why, in skincare products, its derivatives (retinoids)  oftener used. In the body, retinol converts into retinoic acid, through which it acts.

When we are aging, our top layer of the skin called epidermis becomes thicker and harsher, while the deeper layer, dermis, grows thinner because of collagen degradation.

Retinol works to improve skin cell turnover: it cleans dead cells and stimulates new, fresh cells to grow. Retinol and retinoids reduce collagen breakdown and boost its production, which helps skin renewal. As a result, the outer layer of the skin becomes thinner, smoother, and firmer, but dermis firms up.

Benefits of Retinol

Thanks to these properties, retinol is a powerful compound that helps many skin problems. Here you can find a non-exhaustive list of what retinol and retinoids can do:

  • Smoothening the skin
  • Reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Making skin look plumper
  • Fading dark spots
  • Clearing pores
  • Treating acne
  • Eliminating acne scars.

In fact, retinol is one of the rare few products that can not only improve visible signs of aging but reverse photoaging.

Pure retinoids prescribed for the treatment of severe skin conditions. Its concentration may vary depending on the issue and individual skin sensitivity. In skincare, retinoids normally used as components of creams, serums, and other products where they work together with other ingredients.

Cons of Retinol

No matter how potent, retinol and retinoids have quite many side effects, including:

  • Redness and irritation
  • Itching and stinging
  • Flaking and peeling
  • Increased photosensitivity
  • Dry skin
  • Discoloration

Oral retinoids are not safe for pregnant and nursing women, and, though studies of topical retinoids have shown low risks for an unborn baby, specialists do not recommend applying creams with retinoids to the skin during pregnancy and lactation.

To get rid of serious skin damage, retinol treatment is started with lower concentrations of products and implemented gradually. When the skin has adjusted to lower doses of vitamin A, you can switch to the product higher in retinol.


Retinoids are generally recognized by most of the dermatologists as the ultimate solution for fighting signs of aging and treating acne, but, at the same time, it is important not to overuse them and immediately stop treatment if retinol is not well tolerated by the skin. On the other hand, if you use retinoids with precautions, you will be awarded with the perfect, fresh, and younger-looking skin.