Use of Retinol on the Face

by Lynne Sheldon ; Updated July 18, 2017

Use retinol to fight acne and fine lines.

Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether you have blemishes, wrinkles or both, retinol can help you treat them. Derived from vitamin A, retinol encourages a quicker renewal of skin cells, which gets rid of the outer layers of skin to reveal the fresher skin underneath. Dermatologist Jessica Wu notes that doctors first prescribed retinoid creams to treat breakouts, and they have since discovered the medication’s effectiveness for fighting the signs of aging as well. No matter what you use retinol for, be sure to develop a skin care regimen that complements it.

Wet your face and wash it with a cleanser that suits your skin type. If your face is dry or sensitive, use a moisturizing cleanser that will not strip skin of its natural oils. For oily or acne-prone skin, use an oil-free face wash that contains salicylic acid to control excess oil and fight breakouts.

Apply an acne cream that contains either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid every morning. This will help banish existing pimples, as well as help keep new ones from forming, says Cosmopolitan. Apply a thin layer over any areas where you break out, and dab a little extra on top of your blemishes. If you do not have acne, skip this step.

Smooth on a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every morning, even if you do not plan to go outside. According to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., this will help protect your skin from the environmental damage that can make it age more quickly. Use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen if you have dry skin, or select an oil-free product if your skin is oily. This will help keep your pores from getting clogged, as well as keep your skin from feeling too greasy.

Reapply sunscreen often if you have been sweating or swimming.

Put on a retinoid cream at nighttime after washing your face. To fight acne, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for Retin-A. For anti-aging benefits, some products may contain both retinol as well as other age-fighting ingredients.They may smooth lines and wrinkles and make your skin feel renewed. Smooth the product onto your face and rub it in gently.


  • Use retinol at night only. Immediately exposing your skin to sunlight after applying the product can inhibit its effectiveness.

Photo Credits

  • Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Lynne Sheldon has over 12 years of dance experience, both in studios and performance groups. She is an avid runner and has studied several types of yoga. Sheldon now works as a freelance writer, editor and book reviewer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Boston University and recently completed her Master of Fine Arts in writing from Pacific University.