Retinol is touted as one of the crowning jewels of skincare, especially among those who are prioritizing anti-aging skincare. Retinol really is great, we love the whole powerhouse family of retinoids. But, are they good news for all skin types? Those with rosacea have particularly sensitive skin and often deal with a compromised skin barrier. So, can retinol and rosacea be paired safely?
In our series, Rosacea-Friendly or Bust, we detail what ingredients are rosacea-friendly and which are likely to cause a flare-up. In this article, we’re covering the beloved retinol.
When it comes to this retinoid and rosacea, it comes with both the good and the bad.
The good is that retinol (and stronger retinoids) might help reduce rosacea pustules, improve skin texture, and smooth wrinkles-- but it might also worsen redness and the appearance of broken capillaries.
While you’re still in the retinoid adjustment period, retinoids are known to cause a bit of redness, irritation, dryness, and itchiness. When you have rosacea and already deal with redness, irritation, dryness, and itchiness -- it’s sort of the last thing you want to worsen.
While retinol is great for boosting collagen, increasing skin cell regeneration, and smoothing over wrinkles, it’s a fine line (no pun intended) between anti-aging and worsening rosacea.
We wish it were a clearer answer, but it’s not. Here is what we know about paring rosacea and retinol:
If you are interested in retinol for its stellar anti-aging properties, remember, there are other awesome options.
Most anti-aging products contain some form of chemical exfoliant. If you have rosacea, it’s best that you steer clear of these. Harsh acids such as lactic, glycolic, and salicylic acid are not recommended for those with rosacea.
But, there’s hope for you yet.
Antioxidants like vitamin C, niacinamide, and vitamin E are all great for anti-aging and are rosacea-friendly. You can also consider hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, and grape seed extract.
If you’re worried about skin aging, try adding a low concentration of vitamin C and a high concentration of hyaluronic acid for a daily boost. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory, skin smoothing and brightening. Hyaluronic acid plumps up the skin cells with mega hydration.
While some with rosacea might be able to use low concentrations of retinol, others will find it worsens symptoms. The bottom line is, talk with your dermatologist and be prepared for potential flare-ups.
Retinol (and other retinoids) commonly causes redness, irritation, and dryness in the initial weeks. Often, those with rosacea are fighting pretty hard to lessen the redness, irritation, and dryness they already deal with -- so retinol might not be a welcome guest.
For foolproof, rosacea-friendly anti-aging, opt for vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.