Retinol is a vitamin A based substance that helps the skin; smoothing out wrinkles and age creases, fighting acne, and creating a more even tone overall. Many skin care products are full of it, and for good reason; dermatologists recommend retinol for those looking to improve the health of their skin. But some users report annoying side effects, and the kinds that someone hoping for better skin would least like to see.

To avoid the itchy and red skin that retinol can sometimes create while it’s working, some products are applying the substance via a cream spread topically. In a recent study, the researchers used a trial that divided participants faces in half to investigate how to reduce retinol side effects. Acne suffering patients were treated with a retinol based cream for two months. But for the first month, they also used a topical corticosteroid cream on one half of their face, with only moisturizer cream on the other.

The results show that the topical corticosteroid cream was a good addition to retinol cream treatment. It reduced dryness and the usual skin irritation side effects retinol users normally suffered. While the improvements were notable, they were also not as dramatic as might have been hoped. So further research will be needed to refine how retinol treatments can be improved.

Key Points:

  • 1Retinoids are recommended by dermatologists to deal with creasing and other age related skin problems.
  • 2Some of the unwanted side effects of retinoids include redness and skin irritation.
  • 3Combining retinoid treatment with topical corticosteroids can reduce the side effects of retinoid treatment.


The new retinoid research is certainly promising, but it’s not a one-size-fits all solution.

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