Can wrinkle cream cause acne

Retinol: Vitamin A against skin aging?

Retinol is a very well known antiaging ingredient - for good reason! It can reduce wrinkles, helps build skin structure, and acts as an antioxidant against free radicals. But retinol can have side effects too. This article will tell you what forms of retinol there are and how it works best in the skin.


How Can Retinol Help Your Skin?

Retinol has been a fixture in anti-aging cosmetics for years. The positive effect on the appearance of the skin has been proven in various studies. The groundbreaking insight: Retinol can really reduce wrinkles. And it can do even more:

  1. Retinol supports the development of the skin structure,
  2. it refines the pores and helps against acne
  3. and it acts as a potent antioxidant against free radicals.

What is retinol and how does it work?

Retinol is a very effective form of vitamin A. This vitamin plays an important role in building the structure of the skin. The top layer of the skin is made up of horny cells (corneocytes). Vitamin A promotes the formation of these cells and supports the skin's regeneration process. In this way, it has a skin-improving effect and visibly smoother skin.

Small bonus: since retinol stimulates the production of healthy skin cells and regulates cell functions, it can also be effective against acne.

In the lower layers of the skin, collagen forms the framework of the skin. A healthy collagen structure ensures that the skin remains supple and flexible. This way, there are fewer wrinkles. Retinol stimulates collagen production and thus ensures a fresh, stable framework and thus less wrinkle depth.

This is how retinol works in the skin: It promotes skin renewal, refines the complexion and stimulates collagen synthesis in deep layers of the skin.

Retinol: protection as an antioxidant

Vitamin A is also a potent antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals. You have probably heard of these troublemakers. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause all kinds of damage in the body. They destroy our cells, which leads to premature skin aging and wrinkling.

Antioxidants can "trap" the free radicals. That is why they should be found in every anti-aging cream. In addition to vitamin A, there are also many other antioxidants. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Q10 or Resveratrol have been shown to be effective.

Our tip: Antioxidants often work synergistically. So they work better when you use more than one. So you shouldn't just look for one active ingredient in an anti-wrinkle cream.

What types of retinol are there?

There are 3 types of retinol. There are Retinol precursorswho are called retinol esters. There are pure retinol and there are Tretinoin, that is the active retinoic acid. Retinol esters are converted into retinol in the skin. Tretinoin is then produced from retinol.

Although retinol is well known, there is still a lot of confusion about its various forms. In the following we explain in more detail what this is all about.

1. Retinol Esters
(INCI Retinyl palmitate, Retinyl Linoleates, often incorrectly as Retinol palmitate or. Linoleate designated)

These are retinol precursors that are first converted into retinol in the skin through chemical reactions. Since these substances are inactive forms of retinol, they are less potent, but precisely because of that they are also milder to the skin. Especially with retinol: as little as possible, as much as necessary! Because too much retinol can lead to inflammation, redness or burning skin. The delicate skin around the eyes in particular can be very sensitive. Retinol esters are a gentle alternative.

2. Retinol (INCI Retinol)

Pure retinol has to be oxidized in the skin to retinal (retinaldehyde) and finally to retinoic acid (tretinoin). So the active form of retinol is tretinoin. Pure retinol is mostly used in the EU with maximum concentrations of up to 1% (and not up to 0.3% as is often claimed in pharmacies). The following applies: the lower the concentration, the less irritating.

3. Tretinoin

Tretinoin is the active retinoic acid, also called vitamin A acid. This retinoid is also produced naturally in the human body. However, only in very small quantities. Applied topically, it is extremely irritating. Therefore, there are no cosmetic products with pure tretinoin. This ingredient is only contained in prescription acne medication that you can only buy at the pharmacy.

Forms of retinol in our skin

What is the Best Form of Retinol?

In accordance with our skin care philosophy, we always try to combine the highest levels of tolerance with maximum effectiveness. It is important to avoid inflammatory reactions as much as possible. We therefore rely on small doses of the retinyl ester ‘Retinyl Palmitate’ for daily care. This eliminates irritation, but stimulates collagen synthesis permanently and gently.

It is often said that retinol esters are too weak or even useless. This is not true. This study shows that Retinyl Palmitate is effective in repairing the signs of aging, even in moderate concentrations.

Which retinol dosage is best for the skin?

We get asked this question a lot. We advise against using highly concentrated preparations for a cream with pure retinol. Retinol should not irritate the skin obviously, but should develop its positive effects in the long term.

We recommend a dosage of 0.5% as the upper limit for pure retinol. Especially with retinol, every skin is different, so it is best to feel carefully at the beginning until you have discovered your individual “retinol threshold”. You should be particularly careful with the sensitive eye area. By the way, you can find more tips on effective eye care in this article.

A little tip: You can find many "retinol creams" that do not contain pure retinol at the relevant Internet department stores. So look for the word in the ingredients Retinolor ask the manufacturer which form is contained in which concentration.

The pharmacist knows: it's all in the mix!

The skin is a complex organ in which many different metabolic processes take place at the same time. That's why we like to emphasize the following sentence: There is no such thing as one miracle active ingredient.

There are many active ingredients that help against wrinkles. In addition to antioxidants, moisturizers and membrane lipids are also essential.

It is our concern to provide the skin with everything it needs to function ideally and to remain naturally beautiful. At Beyer & Söhne there is therefore an anti-aging complex that uses a combination of various active ingredients. As good as vitamin A is, it cannot counteract all aging processes on its own.

There are plenty of effective anti aging ingredients available. The following active ingredients can increase the beneficial effects of retinol. Many of them work synergistically. Therefore one should not limit oneself to the high dose of one substance. A combination of different active ingredients will always lead to the best result.

Anti-aging: These active ingredients also help

There are 3 classics from anti-aging medicine vitamin C, Vitamin E. and Q10. Vitamin C plays a vital role in collagen production. Vitamin E supports the effect against free radicals. The combination with Q10 strengthens the effect against skin aging and oxidative stress.

There are also new substances from nature. Resveratrol protects the skin from environmental influences.Astaxanthin is considered the most powerful antioxidant in the world and protects the skin against aging and UV radiation.

Furthermore, there are the skin's own lipids and moisturizers such as hyaluronan, Ceramides and Phosphatidylcholines. Hyaluronic acid stores moisture in the skin, ceramides are natural building blocks of our skin and phosphatidylcholine sets off a natural skin renewal process. Incidentally, this is much gentler than a peeling with high-dose retinol, but it also takes a little longer.

Are there any retinol alternatives?

There are many active ingredients that have been shown to have antiaging effects. But as an alternative to pure retinol, we particularly recommend vitamin C. It also has a skin-refining effect and strengthens the collagen structure.

Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant against free radicals. In our skin gel + we use 4% gentle vitamin C, hyaluron and other active ingredients in serum concentration.

Phosphatidylcholine also has a gentle, skin-renewing effect. This is a membrane lipid and a natural part of every cell in the body. It gently supports skin renewal. It is therefore particularly suitable for sensitive skin. In this article, you will learn how phosphatidylcholine works in the skin.

One reads more and more often from Bakuchiol. This is a vegetable substance that was isolated from the asphalt clover for the first time. Although it does not belong to the retinoid group due to its structure, Bakuchiol has similar effects. It is for this reason that it is called a functional retinoid analog.

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Does Bakuchiol work as well as retinol?

Bakuchiol has only recently been used in cosmetic products. This is due to the very meager study situation. Bakuchiol is compared to retinol and is often found to be equally effective with better tolerance. However, the decades of experience that are available with retinol are missing. From our point of view, Bakuchiol is therefore an interesting molecule that should be better investigated in the future. However, we cannot currently recommend it as the ultimate retinol replacement.

Is Retinol Harmful?

Retinol in cosmetic products has been an ingredient that has been used for decades, which is not only characterized by its high effectiveness but also by its safety. But what are the risks and side effects of skin care products containing retinol?

Vitamin A hypervitaminosis (overdose) can indeed pose health risks and dangers. From mild headaches to severe fetal malformations. Retinol in creams, however, cannot be compared to retinol from foods, dietary supplements and medications.

Retinol Creams: Skin Absorption?

The amount of retinol absorbed by cosmetics in the systemic circulation is very small. Therefore, an overdose of a retinol cream with an appropriate concentration is extremely unlikely. For safety reasons, we still recommend using pure retinol only for the face. Treatment of the whole body increases the intake drastically.

For safety reasons, pregnant women should also avoid using retinol creams. However, this does not apply to Retinyl palmitate, a gentle derivative. This is only converted into retinol when needed and is therefore harmless in an appropriate dose. In general, we recommend only moderately concentrated retinol cosmetics in order to avoid harmful skin irritations and irritations.

Pure retinol can be irritating to the eyes. A mild derivative such as retinyl palmitate is better suited.

Retinol and sun

Retinol and its derivatives (derivatives) stimulate collagen synthesis in the deep layers of the skin. The complexion becomes smoother, healthier and stronger. The top layers of the skin, which are made up of dead cells, are renewed at the same time.

This is a desired effect so that the surface of the skin consists of new, healthy cells. However, the dead cell layers on the skin's surface also have natural sun protection. Therefore, the risk of sunburn is slightly increased with the use of retinol.

For this reason, highly concentrated retinol supplements should be discontinued before the summer vacation. Extensive sunbathing should be avoided. Anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun should protect themselves with textiles (clothing, sun hat, sunglasses) and a suitable sunscreen. Our Dayshade Cream with high UVA protection and SPF 30 and the Dayshade Fluid with SPF 50 and red antioxidants are ideal for this.

Every ingredient counts!

For us: no compromises. That's why it's not just the active ingredients that play a role in the right cosmetics. We also have to pay attention to the other ingredients. The key question is: are the ingredients good for the skin? If you check the packaging information (the INCIs), you can often get dizzy. That is why we explain every single ingredient for our skin cream + in detail. By the way, we use a well-tolerated dose Retinyl palmitate.

In addition, the question arises as to whether the cream base is suitable for transporting active ingredients into the skin. A cream based on mineral oil is usually less suitable here, as the non-skin fats tend to remain on the surface and do not integrate into the natural lipid layers of the skin.

With natural fat suppliers (e.g. shea butter, neutral oil and ceramides) and a cream based on pure phosphatidylcholine, we get closer to the natural structure of the skin. This creates a natural delivery system for vitamins and other active ingredients. The prerequisites for the effective absorption of vitamin A can be significantly improved by using the right cream base with the skin's own fatty acids.


Retinol has a positive effect on the appearance of the skin. It supports the formation of corneocytes and promotes collagen production in the long term. So it works against wrinkling and can also be effective against acne. If you want to avoid irritation and side effects, you should rely on compatible retinol esters, as we use them in our skin cream +. If you want to experiment with pure retinol, we recommend not to exceed the concentration of 0.5%.

In any case, you should keep in mind that holistic antiaging is not just about one ingredient. The full anti-aging effect unfolds in combination with other active ingredients and the right cream base.

Read more about findings from anti-aging medicine in this article.

This article was published in September 2019 updated.

Studies and Sources

Study on Retinyl Palmitate - The effect of a vitamin A palmitate and antioxidant-containing oil-based moisturizer on photodamaged skin of several body sites.
Study on Retinol - Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol).
Study on Retinol - Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in viv

Healthy skin ages more slowly and looks more beautiful.
We are true to this philosophy to this day. We combine the basic building blocks of the skin with high-dose, pure active ingredients. No complicated grooming rituals. We rely on honesty, transparency and only dermatologically sensible products.