Understanding Problems with retinoid creams

As a professional in the beauty community, you have certainly heard about retinoid creams. They are one of the most popular skincare treatments for both acne and anti-aging which are two of the most common skin complaints in the beauty industry. Retinoid creams have been around for a long time and are well trusted by beauty professionals and medical professionals alike. However, they are not without side effects. Many of these side effects are temporary and poorly understood. Here, we will discuss what they are, when and if you can expect them to disappear and also how to minimize them.


Many people, regardless of why they are using retinoid creams, will experience an initial breakout or eruptions. This initial eruption can include pimples, bumps and flaking or peeling skin. It is very common to experience these initial eruptions but, even so, that does little to calm the mind of someone who is experiencing these distressing problems. However, keep in mind that these eruptions are almost always temporary in that they will stop even with continued use of retinoid creams and will certainly stop if retinoid creams are discontinued.


The main method of action of retinoid creams is increasing and speeding up cell turnover. For this reason, actually, it is effective in treating both acne and signs of aging. It is effective in treating acne because clogged pores from poor or slow cell turnover causes pimples. It is effective in treating signs of aging because, as we age, cell turnover slows down and this causes some of the visible signs of aging. However, because retinoid creams speed up this process of skin cell turnover, it also uncovers problems hiding under the surface of the skin faster than those problems would have naturally been revealed. 

For instance, if you normally got one pimple a week before using retinoid creams, you may find yourself getting 3 or 4 a week during your retinoid purge before ultimately being free from breakouts after the purge is over. Also keep in mind that, while all skin types are prone to retinoid purging, they tend to purge differently. Oil skin may purge with acne while dry skin has more of a tendency to be irritated by retinoid creams and flake or peel. 


Generally, retinoid purging only lasts 3 to 4 weeks. This is reassuring to know for several reasons. For one thing, if you are experiencing a retinoid purge and have plans to use retinoid cream in the long term, there is an end in sight. Alternatively, if you experience purging for much longer than this time frame or don’t achieve the desired effects of the cream after this time period, retinoid cream may not be for you and it may be time to look for an alternative.


One tendency people have when using retinoid creams is to increase the amount they use at one time thinking that they will either, ultimately, get better results or at least end the purging phase more quickly so that they achieve their desired results faster. However, this is ill-advised and sticking to the “pea-sized” amount regardless of whether or not it is a prescription strength cream or not.


Retinoid creams are tried and true in the beauty industry; especially when it comes to acne, fine lines and wrinkles. However, many people are unaware that, before the benefits of using retinoid creams are obtained, a skin “purging” occurs during which the condition of the user’s skin actually worsens, respective to its original state, before improving. Hopefully this article has helped you gain some understanding and insight into retinoid creams so that you can decide if they are right for you.