So, you’ve heard that retinol would cure your acne, but now you have more pimples than ever? Your face has never looked this worse?
Calm down. I know you want to throw that retinol cream in the bin, but, please, don’t. Retinol is really gonna help clear up your acne. But, to do that, it must make it worse first.
Let me explain:
Why retinol causes breakouts
Did you know our skin renew itself about every 28 days? It naturally sheds old and dull dead cells, replacing them with fresher and smoother ones. It’s called natural exfoliation.
Retinol, like most types of acne treatments, accelerates this process. So, if a breakout is brewing underneath the surface of your skin, retinol unveils it much sooner. It may seem like retinol is causing it, but it just brings to the surface what would have naturally surfaced anyway one or two weeks later.
Isn’t it better to have it all out in the open and dealt with sooner? Ok, it may not seem like that when you’re going through it. Just know that what you’re experiencing is totally normal. It’s called “purging.”
Like you’ve probably guessed, this phenomenon affects mostly those of you with oily skin. If no breakouts are sneakily forming underneath your skin, retinol won’t be able to do any purging.
How to deal with retinol breakouts
The purging period rarely lasts more than a month. Stick with the product for that long, and you’ll be amazed at how clearer and more refined your skin will then be.
But you don’t have to put up with those breakouts. You can fight them with the right weapons: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. They both exfoliate skin, getting rid of the gunk that accumulates in the pores and causes breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide can also kill the bacteria that causes acne, but it’s quite harsh and should be used only as a spot treatment.
There’s only one problem. Neither salicylic acid nor benzoyl peroxide work well with retinol. They make each other less effective. But, there’s a workaround. Apply retinol at night and salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in the morning. That way, you get the best of both worlds (and clearer skin earlier).
Did retinol “make” your breakout? If so, how did you deal with it?