Retinol: what can it do for your facial skin?

As time goes by, it becomes more and more evident that the signs of age begin to appear on our skin.

However, skincare routines have become the best friend of people who want to slow down and prevent aging of the dermis.

Thus, the use of dermocosmetics and acids in skin care routines has become increasingly common, due to cell renewal, collagen formation, skin whitening, among others.

Regarding acids, one of the most famous at the moment is Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A that promises to work miracles on the skin.


What is retinol and what is it for?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A, responsible for cell renewal and production of new collagen and elastin fibers, it is related to collagen synthesis, acting against sagging, aging and skin marks.

This vitamin has keratolytic action, that is, it promotes a small exfoliation in the dermis, which causes the most superficial layer to be removed. Thus, it consequently provides cell renewal.

It also prepares the skin to receive other products and different actives, improving the absorption of dermocosmetics and treatments.


In addition, it helps in the reduction of fine lines, in the improvement of the skin, as well as in the treatment of acne and lesions caused by it.

What are the effects of retinol on the face?

Retinol is one of the most used assets for the prevention of premature aging, since it helps in the reduction of wrinkles, evens skin tone, promotes cell renewal, as well as improves the appearance of the dermis.

In addition, it fills in wrinkles and reduces fine lines and some fine lines. It also stimulates the production of collagen, which makes the skin firmer.

What are the presentations?

Several presentations can be found for vitamin A derivatives, which can be sold in dermocosmetics or medications. Some of the most found forms are:

  • Retinol Cream: this type is always a dermocosmetic and, generally, lighter and combined with other actives, which avoids side effects on the skin, such as flaking;
  • Retinol Serum: like the cream, the serum is a lighter dermocosmetic and combined with another more moisturizing active, which makes it not so abrasive to the skin;
  • Retinol Ointment: the ointment form is usually composed of pure retinol acid. In this case, it is treated as a tarred drug and can only be marketed with the express indication of the (a) dermatologist, since the side effects are higher.

How to use products with retinol?

Because it is an active ingredient that helps the skin to receive other treatments, it should be used on clean and dry skin, preferably before the moisturizer.

It acts as a chemical exfoliator on the skin, removing keratinized skin cells, unclogging pores and improving the absorption of other products.

It is important to mention that if your skin is sensitive, you can use a serum before retinol to prevent intense peeling of the dermis.

Furthermore, dermocosmetics with retinol should be used preferably at night, since they are photosensitive, that is, if exposed to the sun they can cause spots and irritation in the dermis.

Medicines with retinoic acids should only be used at night, since in this case, they are phototoxic, which result in the release of energy by photosensitizing agents and can cause long-term damage to the skin.

However, the reactions are local, only on the parts exposed to the photosensitizing agent. So it is always important to keep an eye on the composition of your treatment to avoid inconvenience.

Finally, whether cosmetic, medicine or peeling with retinoids, it is important to always use sunscreen regularly.

What are retinoids?

Retinoids are the types of Vitamin A derivatives. They have different presentations, and can be in pure form or less concentrated. The most common and easily found are:

  • Isotretinoin: this derivative of vitamin A is most used in severe and resistant cases of acne. This asset can only be used with medical advice due to its side effects.
  • Tretinoin: it  is indicated for cases of acne, blackheads and pimples. It is also a powerful asset for the treatment of fine lines, blemishes, premature aging and photoaging. This derivative can only be marketed under the guidance of a dermatologist.
  • Retinol: it is the easiest derivative to be found in dermocosmetics. It works by preventing and diminishing fine lines, shrinking pores and improving the appearance of the dermis.

Although some types of retinoids are freely marketed, it is always important to seek the help of a dermatologist who will evaluate your case and prescribe the best treatment for your skin, avoiding side effects.

What is the difference between retinol and retinoic acid?

Retinoic acid or tretinoin is the oxidized form of vitamin A, that is, it is the stable form of the active.

Retinol has a lower receptor capacity than retinoic acid, so it is softer for the dermis.

Retinoic acid, on the other hand, has the efficacy of an acid itself, being able to improve and compact the corneal layer, providing a more homogeneous appearance on the skin.

This active is not indicated for sensitive skin, since it can end up presenting a series of side effects, such as irritation, redness, and even peeling of the skin.

Finally, retinoic acid cannot be used in dermocosmetics. Because it is an acid that can cause damage to the dermis, it has the form of a medicine and can only be sold with a dermatologist’s prescription.

What is the price and where to buy?

There are several brands that sell skin retinoids, each with its own proposal and characteristics. The ideal is to look for a dermatologist to assess what your need is and help you find the best product. Some well-known brands are:

La Roche Posay

The brand’s best known product is Redermic R which was developed especially to offer an intensive treatment to reduce accentuated wrinkles, in addition to improving the texture and tone of the skin.

The product formula has pure Retinol, which stimulates the production of the skin’s supporting fibers and promotes intense action against the signs of aging.

In addition, it has the association of a retinoid complex (Retinyl Linoleate + Adenosine), which will enhance the action of Retinol, reinforcing its effectiveness without compromising tolerance.

La Roche Posay recently launched another retinol-based dermocosmetic for sensitive skin, Retinol B3.

It also contains pure Retinol, associated with a soothing complex that reduces the irritability of the dermis, preserves the skin barrier and increases hydration.


The Vichy Liftactiv Retinol HA Advanced contains Retinol pure in its composition with anti-aging action.

It promotes hydration while correcting wrinkles, prevents fine lines and evens out skin tone, in addition to promoting a smooth and smooth skin feeling.

The composition also contains hyaluronic acid, which fills in fine lines, helps prevent premature aging and retains water in the dermis.


Adcos has Derma Complex Retinol + Hyaluronic in its line of dermocosmetics.

It has two types of retinoids and the action of hyaluronic acid in the composition that considerably reduces the number of wrinkles and their depth, due to the filling effect.

Still, it rejuvenates the skin from the inside out, it also reorganizes and structures the support of the skin.


Talking a little about the more abrasive form of retinoids, there is Vitanol-A , a drug based on tretinoin, active in the vitamin A family.

It is a topical treatment indicated for expression lines, spots and roughness of facial skin, characteristics of skin aging caused by the sun.

The product also helps in the treatment of acne, especially mild or grade I, in which blackheads and pimples predominate .

Vitanol-A can only be prescribed and marketed with the express recommendation of the dermatologist.

What care?

When we use more intense treatments for the skin, it is common to cause some kind of sensitivity. However, when some photosensitive or even phototoxic treatment is inserted, care must be taken.

With the use of retinoids, the main care that must be taken is with exposure to the sun, since the products should be used only at night.

In the morning routine, it is necessary to thoroughly clean the skin to remove acid residues and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, even if there is no exposure to the sun to avoid damage to the skin.

As the skin is more sensitized due to the active, it is ideal to keep hydration up to date and bet on more powerful creams to prevent and decrease the dryness of the skin.

Can you use retinol every day?

Yes. To obtain the results of the use of retinoids, the ideal is to make a continuous treatment, mainly to reduce fine lines and avoid premature aging.

It is important that if you have never used products with retinol, the ideal is to start with those less potent, or with more active assets in the composition so as not to sensitize the region so much.

It is also worth mentioning that, at the beginning of the treatment, the dermatologist can indicate the use on alternate days to test the skin’s tolerability and avoid flaking.

The ideal is to seek the help of a professional who will assess your skin type and the appropriate treatment for you, be it a dermocosmetic, pure acid or even a peel.

Remembering that this asset should be used only at night and you should not forget to use the sunscreen daily.

Adopting skin care that is suitable for your needs is the most important step in keeping your skin young and healthy.

Thus, the use of retinol can be a great treatment bet to avoid premature skin aging.

Have you used any product with retinol or have any further questions about this asset? Tell us here in the comments and keep following the Healthy Minute to stay on top of beauty and review content!