What Does Retinol (Vitamin A) Do for Your Skin?

Kayla Newnam
What Does Retinol (Vitamin A) Do for Your Skin?

What Does Retinol Do For Your Skin?

The skincare industry is huge, it was estimated to be worth $100.13 billion by Fortune Business insights in 2021. To no surprise, it’s expected to continue growing. With all of the skincare products available on the market, you start to wonder which will work best for you. Are you currently using a particular skincare line? If so, you may be using a product that contains retinol. So, we wanted to know what retinol does for your skin? 

Retinol is one form of Vitamin A and is beneficial to incorporate into your daily skin care routine. The use of vitamin A topically has shown to increase levels of glycosaminoglycan, an important component of connective tissue that helps the skin retain water and increase collagen production. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, retinoid is a broad term used to describe Vitamin A products intended for our skin that can be beneficial for your skin if used properly. Once retinol is applied to the skin it is converted to a retinoid. There are prescription products available that are actual retinoids, no need for conversion in the skin and are more potent. So, what does retinol do for your skin? Skin tone, texture, and pigmentation irregularities will see great improvement with use of retinol.

4 Reasons to Incorporate Retinol 

Now that we know what Retinol is, let’s discuss in depth what Retinol can do for your skin. Some products are offered over the counter, some are only available to licensed professionals as retinol comes in different strengths. We will cover different benefits that are based around both types of products. 

Goodbye Dull Skin

Retinol is a product you need to help with dry or patchy skin. Research shows that those of varying ages can benefit from consistent usage of retinol. There are two specific studies, one using a 3% retinol physician grade Retinol peel on women aged 18-65. The other with a blend of only 0.5% retinol on women aged around 54. All experienced brightening of the complexion and anti-aging benefits. The women that were using the 0.5% product noticed results of radiance and smoothness in only two weeks. If you are looking for more radiant skin, retinol and hydration may be the answer! 

Say No to Fine Lines and Wrinkles 

The amount of studies that support retinol's ability to improve fine lines and wrinkles is quite extensive. If you are taking a preventive approach or looking to minimize your natural aging, this is a great option. In one study, they addressed the comparison that is often made between retinol and retinoic acid. This comparison exists because retinol has to be converted to retinoic acid, but this 12 week study shows that retinol is very effective. Epidermal thickening as well as the wrinkle scores, which were based around the number of wrinkles and level of severity after taking skin biopsies. Nearly 64% improvement in the cheeks and 39% in the eye areas after just 12 weeks. 

Reduce Your Acne 

Your skincare regiment would be greatly enhanced by retinol if you feel like your face is always broken out or inflamed due to acne. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends retinoids be used as a topical treatment for acne. Our skin can develop acne when there's increased sebum produced that sits on top of the skin duct and hair follicle. Bacteria build up will clog the pores. Acne, scarring and pigmentation that has been left behind due to previous acne breakouts has been shown to greatly improve with use of retinol.

Price Point is Affordable 

For most of us, we won’t only be purchasing one single skincare product, so cost is an important factor for many. Retinol can range from as low as ten dollars to higher than two hundred depending on the brand, blend, and product. One thing to be mindful of is if the product doesn’t provide a specific percentage, it’s likely a very weak or low quality product. The cost of certain products that contain retinol may be paid by your insurance or have the ability to use your Health Savings or Flexible Spending account, although a physician's recommendation may be required. What to be Aware of? 

When we talk about what Retinol can do for your skin, we also need to know what to be aware of. Retinol products come in different strengths and blends depending on the line and product you choose. It’s always best to meet with a professional, so we recommend speaking to your dermatologist prior to starting a new regimen. 


If you are getting ready to take a trip to lay in the sunshine all day, it may not be the time to introduce retinol into your skincare routine. It can take months of using retinol before your skin starts responding to the sun as it previously did. When you are looking at your skincare routine, consider placing retinol into your nighttime regimen. You’ll also want to make sure you are applying SPF daily to prevent issues associated with photosensitization. Adding a daily broad spectrum SPF into your daily regimen is a great habit to start implementing, especially since many of the studies referenced include an SPF as part of the protocol. 

Sensitive Skin 

One of the most common complaints with Retinol is what professionals call “retinoid reaction.”. This reaction can cause some individuals' skin to peel, feel itchy, swell, or have a burning sensation when they first start using the product. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to start with a low percentage and gradually increase based on your dermatologist recommendations.Retinol can potentially cause short-term inflammation and facial dryness in some individuals, if this happens try applying every 3rd night for 2 weeks, followed by every other night for 2 weeks, then every night thereafter. Applying a moisturizer, such as Cerave PM, after the vitamin A cream can help moisturize and hydrate the skin.


Now that we’ve covered how retinol is basically the fountain of youth, it’s time for you to decide if you will make it a part of your skincare routine. As we discussed, retinol contains benefits to prevent fine lines and wrinkles, reduce acne scarring, treat current acne, and provide a brighter and even complexion.

You are also aware of some of the most common risks that come with using retinol. It seems as though if used properly and cautiously, retinol can be a great addition to your skincare routine. We hope you’ve found this helpful for your skincare journey.

As always, if you have any questions or want to start using new products, seek advice from your dermatologist. If you don’t currently have one, the American Academy of Dermatology Association provides a fantastic directory for professionals in your area.