ADAPALENE, RETINOL, RETINOIC ACID: WHAT I’VE LEARNED

What are their differences and which one to choose according to your skin problems?

My first introduction to this Vitamin A game, was Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream.

Contains 1.0% Retinol, I was worried when I first applied it. Purging is like a nightmare, and I don’t think I can deal with it (at that time before pandemic). Turned out, I didn’t purge at all using this cream. I applied twice a week and it did bring slight changes to my skin. It made my skin smoother with less oil plugs and it did deflate acne. I kept going using this for almost a year, until I realized that my hormonal acne and whiteheads on chin area kept on appearing when I used this oil-based cream.

That’s when I decide to step up my game to Adapalene right on this pandemic moment. As I’m also in a saving mode, I was glad to find Evalen Krim, a local brand from Indonesia. It’s super affordable compared to an imported brand, and yes, I was surprised by the great result (so far). Currently I’m still on my Adapalene journey (read here for the early stages), but I can already see drastic change on my skin. Adapalene seems to push every closed comedones I have out to the surface. Scary at first, it was like getting a bad facial. But I learned throughout the process, they showed up fast but they will be gone fast too. And eventually, they all will get better in 12 weeks (max). So, cross my fingers and I’ll update on separate blog post.

Then, I found a YouTuber applied Retinoic Acid on top of her Adapalene in her night time routine. I was like, what? Double the A’s, really? But turned out, it worked for her and I certainly wouldn’t mind to jump into the same wagon while #stayathome all the time. So, now I also apply Vitacid 0,05% Retinoic Acid Cream as a spot treatment on top of Adapalene.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED:

  • It’s true when they said that Retinol tends to have fewer side effects than Retinoic Acid. It’s gentler, so if you just started in this Retinol game, start with Retinol first then you can upgrade if your skin can tolerate.
  • Both of Retinol and Retinoic Acid are vitamin A (under the same RETINOID umbrella), but Retinol contains a lower concentration of the active Retinoic Acid ingredient. Compared to Retinoic Acid, Retinol is about 20 times less potent. So if you feel (like me) Retinol worked too slow, maybe it’s time to fasten up. But don’t just take it from me, speak with your dermatologist first.
  • I believe Retinol is more ‘cosmetic’, while Retinoic Acid is more prescription strength that goes deeply into the skin to stimulate collagen production & increase cell turnover.
  • Adapalene is a synthetic Retinoid and it’s supposedly better tolerated than Retinoic Acid. From my experience so far, it normalized both of my skin struggles: keratinization and microcomedone formation.Everyone might experience different side effects, especially during the first few days of treatment. Just be patient, they are not magic in a tube.Always sandwich with a gentle cleanser and three step moisture method (water, humectant, emollient). I guess I survived not having super bad ‘retinization’ (redness, dryness, and flaking caused by Retinoid), because of this method.