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Curious Why Retinoids Are Popular? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

Medically reviewed by Sue Kua, MD · Dermatology

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

Curious Why Retinoids Are Popular? Here Are a Few Reasons Why

You may have heard the term retinoid in skincare products. It is believed to be a game-changer, especially when it comes to addressing breakouts. So, what are retinoids and what can they do for you and your skin?

Getting To Know Your Retinoids

Retinoids are topical vitamin A-derived compounds, similar to the typical vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables. It helps in the following ways:

  • Suppression of inflammatory process
  • Keratinization (old skin cells moving upwards and starts to form keratin due to lack of nourishment) and alteration of the cell surface
  • Growth and differentiation of cells
  • Immune modulation

Retinoids are usually found in medication used to treat acne, psoriasis, and other keratinization disorders.

There are different topical retinoids available, both via prescription and over-the-counter that you may want to consider:

  • Retinol
  • Tretinoin
  • Adapalene
  • Tazarotene
  • Trifarotene
  • Alitretinoin
  • Bexarotene

Each type may come in different formulations like gel, cream, lotion, emulsion, foam, spot treatment, and even other liquid products.  

Among the abovementioned variants, tretinoin and retinol are known to be the most common ones with the former being the most potent of them all.

Retinoids in Action: What Are Its Different Uses?

People apply retinoids for many different reasons, ranging from common acne troubles to treating other skin conditions like psoriasis. 

Acne Treatment

You may have heard and read the terms isotretinoin, tretinoin (retinoic acid), trifarotene, and adapalene from the boxes of your skincare products. Well, that is because these particular kinds of retinoids play an important role in treating mild to moderately severe acne problems. 

Retinoids also help in unclogging clogged pores. They work hand in hand with other topical antibiotics to enter the pore and eliminate the underlying bacteria that is causing the acne breakout. This synergistic effect is extremely useful in the treatment of acne.

It may take up to 12 weeks or longer to see any improvement. But, the consistent once-a-day application before bedtime can make a difference in your breakouts.

Treating Photodamage and Photoaging

Aside from being an acne fix, researchers have also discovered the use of retinoids in the reduction of the following skin concerns:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Solar comedones
  • Melasma
  • Actinic lentigines
  • Actinic keratoses spots
  • Freckles and other skin pigmentation
  •  Vitamin A  is the first vitamin to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for its anti-wrinkle and anti-aging benefits. By stimulating the production of new blood vessels in the skin, retinoids also increase the production of collagen in the body. Thus, improving the skin color which is quite a concern for people with sunspots and other hyperpigmentations. 

    Tretinoin aids in the prevention of further skin deterioration due to UV exposure and damage. 

    Moreover, it also softens the rough patches of the skin. But, it may also take a while to see visible results. Some may have it in three to six months, while others may have it for a good year or so. 

    Treating Psoriasis

    Retinoid also has a way to treat the itchy and dry skin patches in different parts of the body. A skin restoration takes place when retinoids work to reduce inflammation and shedding. 

    Retinoids: Contraindications, Precautions, and More

    Like any other treatment, retinoids also have side effects, contraindications, and safety precautions when in use.

    Some people may be allergic (or hypersensitive) to it, so it may not work well with everyone like pregnant women. 

    Other common side effects are:

  • Excessive dryness of the skin
  • Skin redness
  • Scaling of the skin (prevalent to those with eczema)
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Because it can cause dryness and skin irritation, doctors frequently recommend using them only every other day at first. After which, it can gradually increase to nighttime applications. 

    Retinoids can also make your skin sensitive to light. This is why dermatologists also advise people to wear sunscreen on a regular basis for it to take effect and be able to maintain its benefits. 

    Key Takeaways

    Apart from acne treatment, retinoids also help in other skin conditions. Make sure to consult your doctor before trying them out to to know the best treatment for your skin type and prevent adverse reactions from these medications.

    Learn more about Skincare and Cleansing here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Sue Kua, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Oct 11, 2022

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