If your eyes sparkle at skin success stories, you've stumbled upon gold today. Thankfully, everyone's starting to follow the millennial mantra of skin first. With that idea in mind, we're all truly committed to achieving a clean canvas, which, in a dream world, entails blemish-free, glowing, skin. One of the star ingredients known to get you damn near close to that is retinol.
You'll hear nearly every dermatologist and esthetician say you should add retinol if it's not already part of your routine. A vitamin A derivative used in products for anti-aging and acne purposes, it's a proven acne-fighting ingredient that diminishes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, and sun spots. It's known to work fast and effectively, which is why you see it in so many products.
It works—that's for sure. This fact was proven in a recent viral Reddit thread about a woman's skin transformation that she credits retinol for. If you've ever questioned incorporating retinol in your skin regimen, then this photo will have your mind made up that retinol is no joke. Her inflamed, acne-prone skin has evolved into a glowing, blemish-free complexion two years later. It's truly transformative.
Egotr4p posted this photo titled, "Hard work and retinol make a difference," which has since racked up hundreds of comments and shares. Many users were congratulating her on her skin transformation and she responded, "Thank you so, so much. I never thought I would be where I am now."
She also openly shared that a few years prior to posting her before photo, she battled with severe cystic acne. She wrote: "Know I had horrible cystic acne a year or two before the left picture and felt alone, and would cry almost daily."
If you too would like to make magic happen on your skin, she shared that she used a prescription retinoid called Tretinoin 0.025%. "I did not go to derm although I had access to RX retinol," she wrote in her comments. Her diet played a major part as well. "I don't think that was the only thing that really helped me though, although definitely a part of it all. Going vegan has improved the texture of my skin and frequency of pimples appearing as well as the other activities in my routine. Diet is a part of skincare too for sure!" she wrote.
Cut out dairy products to reduce acne flare-ups. Because many cows in the United States are given growth hormones, the hormone levels in milk can play a role in excess sebum production, which promotes acne.
We're not saying you have to go vegan; retinol will do the job. Its skin powers have been confirmed to us time and again by expert dermatologists. "Retinoids are the absolute backbone of an acne treatment since they treat acne by de-clogging pores," Melissa Levin, MD, told Byrdie. "They also work to normalize skin cell turnover and act as an anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, they have been proven to improve skin discoloration and texture and, therefore, restore the skin from prior outbreaks."
Meet the Expert
Melissa Levin is a Manhattan-based, board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Entière Dermatology. She is a faculty member at New York University Langone, teaching dermatology to resident physicians and medical students.
If you want a skin glow-up just as good as this Reddit user's, start with the below retinol-based serums that have been backed by dermatologists as some of the best on the market (at every price point).
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Leyden J, Stein-Gold L, Weiss J. Why topical retinoids are mainstay of therapy for acne. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017;7(3):293-304. doi:10.1007/s13555-017-0185-2
Katta R, Desai SP. Diet and dermatology: the role of dietary intervention in skin disease. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(7):46-51.