Retinol and acne are closely related in that retinol directly stops the normal process required for acne to form. Acne is caused by dirt, debris, and dead skin cells bonding together and blocking the pores. Retinol, a type of vitamin A, is accepted by the skin as a natural substance which promotes proper cell regeneration and helps to break the bonds of clogged pores. Once the protein which holds the cells and dirt together is broken down, they are easily sloughed away, and the acne begins to clear.
The outer layer of the skin has receptors for retinoic acid and usually absorbs retinol more readily than synthetic chemicals or medicines. For this reason, retinol is generally recommended even to those with highly sensitive skin. There are also retinol vitamins or gel caps, which are usually available and can be taken to prevent acne. Many companies that manufacture acne products know the connection between retinol and acne and may include the substance as an active ingredient. The human body, however, does convert beta-carotene to vitamin A naturally, so it is possible to fight acne from the inside out by digesting foods high in beta-carotene.
While the connection between retinol and acne is known by many, and some users have had positive experiences with products containing the vitamin, there are some cautions to take into account. First, retinol applied directly to the skin can make it very sensitive to sunlight, so using a sunscreen or avoiding sunlight after use is typically recommended. It has also been reported in rare cases that higher concentrations of retinol cause tingling in the face and itchy skin. Users should also know that when taken as a supplement, vitamin A can cause toxicity in high doses. Dermatologists understand exactly how retinol and acne work in different skin types, so it may be beneficial for individuals to discuss the product with one before use.
Any skin care regimen should usually be followed regularly, but not excessively, for the proper results. Most retinol-based products come with instructions for use. Individuals should avoid using more than the recommended dosage, as increased doses may cause irritation. Prescription medication may contain higher concentrations of retinol, if over the counter products are simply not doing the trick. Retinol and acne correlate in severity, meaning the more severe the case of acne, the higher the concentration of retinol that may be necessary.