What does Retinol do for spot-prone skin?

Jenna Swift

Jenna Swift



Retinol is a very popular and well known ingredient in skincare. The main place you may have heard of Retinol is from anti-ageing serums and creams. This is because it is a great ingredient for reducing the signs of premature ageing. However, you may be surprised to hear that Retinol is also a very good solution for acne and spot-prone skin.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of retinoids which are a large family of compounds that derive from vitamin A. These compounds can be found in prescription and over the counter skincare products. 

But what does vitamin A do for your skin? Vitamin A in skincare helps to speed up the natural healing of the skin. It promotes its natural moisturising process by penetrating to the upper and lower layers of the skin. Retinol is a milder version of vitamin A which makes it great for most skin types. The difference with Retinol and pure vitamin A is that Retinol needs to be converted into retinoic acid by the enzymes of the skin, before it becomes effective. Retinol is also a chemical exfoliant. This increases the collagen production in the skin which is why Retinol is so popular in anti-ageing skincare regimes as the boost in collagen can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Does Retinol help acne and spots?

Retinol products such as a Retinol serum or skincare products which simply contain the ingredient can actually help you combat spots and acne. You can use it on its own for treating acne or on top of other acne treatments. This is because Retinol is a chemical exfoliant which helps to reduce the amount of dead skin cells, oils and dirt that may be blocking the hair follicles. When a hair follicle becomes blocked, this is what can lead to spots and pimples on the face and or body. As Retinol helps to remove these factors before they can block the pores, fewer spots are able to form. As Retinol is also great at encouraging new skin growth – partially due to its exfoliating methods – the small spots and pimples already on the skin are encouraged to heal, and scars left behind from acne can appear to fade. 

Can you use Retinol as a spot treatment?

As Retinol is a mild version of Vitamin A and Retinoids this makes it a good choice for patients with mild skin conditions and/or sensitive skin. However, people with moderate to severe acne may not benefit much, if not at all, from Retinol alone. They may need to take a prescription retinoid such as Tretinoin, or a product which includes Retinol with other spot fighting ingredients. Tretinoin is a synthetic version of vitamin A which is stronger than Retinol, hence only being available in prescription form. Due to its ability to reduce inflammation associated with acne, and its exfoliating purposes which reduce clogged pores, it is generally one of the first lines of treatment for acne prescribed by a dermatologist. However, sensitive skin may not take too well to its strength. Another good pairing for Retinol is Salicylic acid. The two ingredients are pretty similar in the way they work on the skin and exfoliate it, removing oil, dirt and dead skin cells to prevent spots, so when placed together can become a stronger spot fighting product. 

In short, Retinol can be used as a spot treatment, but it is best to analyse the severity of the spots or acne before commiting to the ingredient. Patients who are prone to a few spots and mild acne will find the most benefits from this ingredient. 

The side effects of Retinol

Although Retinol is relatively gentle on most skin types, people with extremely sensitive skin, and in some cases people with mildly sensitive skin, can find that Retinol is an irritant. To combat this, the patient should work their way up to using the product more regularly. For example, start by using the products once to twice a week until the skin feels as though it is able to cope with the ingredient. Once this is successful they can begin to use it more often.

The most common side effects found by using Retinol is peeling of the skin, dryness, tightness and skin redness. This is due to the exfoliating abilities of the ingredient which can, in some people, leave the skin feeling dry. To combat this, a good nourishing moisturiser should be used after application – sometimes even before in the most severe cases of dry skin. Retinol/vitamin A can also make the skin more sensitive to sun damage. We always recommend wearing a sun protection product with SPF 50 or more daily – even in winter – but we strongly suggest wearing a high SPF when using vitamin A products. Heliocare 360° is a great pairing to have alongside any skin treatments. It is an award winning SPF that provides daily protection from UVA and UVB rays, infrared-A, and visible light, while offering different formulas to benefit every skin type

How Biretix can help

The Biretix range is a holistic skincare approach specifically designed for oily and spot-prone skin. With its three product pillars: Purify, Treat, and Care, the products work in synergy to not only reduce spots, but to effectively manage the associated symptoms of spot-prone skin. This includes, keratinisation, oiliness, redness, inflammation, scarring, and hyperpigmentation. With its effective regimes that are safe for use alongside prescription and aesthetic treatments, Biretix enhances the results of every acne treatment journey. 

The Biretix products contain a unique vitamin A complex called RetinSphere Technology. 

RetinSphere Technology consists of a powerful combination of two high-tolerance retinoids: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and Retinol in glycospheres. The Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate is a retinoid acid ester that binds directly to the retinoic receptors in the skin. This means it has a high efficacy as it doesn’t need to go through a conversion process to become the active form – unlike Retinol. This acts immediately meanwhile the Retinol in the micro-sponges (Glycospheres) penetrate deep into the epidermis to allow the Retinol to be released gradually with sustained activity. The structure of the Glycospheres help to stabilise the Retinol which prevents it from Oxidising, reducing irritation. All of this ensures effective skin renewal with minimal irritation.

RetinSphere is used within the Biretix range alongside other proven active ingredients such as antimicrobials, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Niacinamide. This creates a unique and effective solution that rapidly clarifies the skin, reducing blemishes, redness, and shine, and so much more – all without causing irritation. This makes these products a great option for clients with sensitive skin as well as oily and/or spot-prone skin. 

Learn more about the brand and what it means to become a Biretix Partner

Learn more

Leave a Reply