The Vitamin A Serums Made Especially For Treating Acne

Writing this feature on vitamin A serums actually makes me feel a little sad. You see, I’m heavily pregnant and vitamin A is one of my favourite skincare ingredients (however, it’s also one that is best avoided when growing humans).

It’s an oil-soluble vitamin that is essential for optimal skin function and belongs to a group of compounds known as retinoids - but to cut things short I like to describe vitamin A as the Beyonce of the skincare world, because that’s what it is. 

How Can Vitamin A Improve Acne?

You see, vitamin A can improve the appearance of the skin in so many ways. From minimising fine lines and wrinkles for a youthful glow, smoothing texture, in turn improving the visible appearance of uneven skin tone, helping enlarged pores and even plumping your face and reducing redness. It’s a skincare hero ingredient that can do a lot.

Vitamin A even has the ability to offer your body additional environmental protection as it can be stored in the body as an antioxidant. Although if you’ve ever suffered from acne it has the potential to help clear that up for you too.

Holly Proudman from Advanced Skin Technology tells me Vitamin A is a superhero ingredient when it comes to treating acne.

“It has anti-comedogenic properties and will assist in reducing blockages within the hair follicle that commonly lead to breakouts and other associated symptoms of problematic skin.”

I also swear by it in-clinic, and whenever I feel a breakout coming on, (under non-baby growing circumstances), I always turn to a little vitamin A - and bam, it helps it on its way.

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The Most Common Types Of Acne, Explained

However, the acne world is a big, confusing one that is different for everyone so let’s preface this chat by discussing the most common acne classifications, because there are many different subtypes and various grading scales.

Holly describes the most common ones for us below: 

Acne Vulgaris:

Acne Vulgaris is a common type of acne accompanied by inflamed papules and pustules (both are red, inflamed bumps but pustules are filled with a yellowish liquid pus) that may appear on the face and body and can start out mild and progress to severe.

Comedonal Acne:

A subset of acne vulgaris, comedonal acne (skin-coloured, non-inflamed small bumps) frequently found with whiteheads and blackheads that can occur anywhere on the body and range from mild to severe. 

Cystic Acne:

The most severe form of acne vulgaris, this subtype is accompanied by large painful, inflamed blemishes and/or cysts that occur deep within the skin and can occur anywhere on the body.

Holly reminds us that determining the best treatment for various classifications and grading scales requires a blended approach. Combining homecare and tailoring of a customised treatment program.

“For best results, a thorough consultation and skin analysis with a trained skin specialist is key to determine best homecare and treatment options and this will vary on a case by case basis.”

How Often Should Vitamin A Be Used?

“Speaking with a trained skin specialist and undergoing a thorough skin consultation and analysis, will determine the best application for all skin types as the recommended usage and application can vary depending on an individual’s skin type, concerns and lifestyle,” Holly tells me.

However, as a general rule, when introducing vitamin A into your skincare regimen, it’s best to use sparingly at first, applying at night every few days and then gradually increasing as time goes on - allowing your skin to adjust. This is especially important for anybody with acne or sensitive skin.

And how can you tell when you've gone too far?

Anybody that loves or uses a vitamin A frequently probably has a wartime-esque story of when they’ve overdone it on the retinol train. I know I’ve been there, because yes, while vitamin A is known as the Beyonce of the skincare world as it’s such a powerful ingredient you can’t go too hard too quick – or there’ll be consequences. As overusing retinol comes with a myriad of side effects.

Why? Mainly because when vitamin A is incorporated into a skincare regimen too quickly or used too often/incorrectly it can lead to skin irritation. Holly says “you might notice it mainly in the form of peeling, dryness, redness or increased sensitivity.”

Which is why it is of the utmost importance to speak with your skincare professional if you have any questions or concerns regarding your skincare regime or how best to incorporate a new ingredient such as a vitamin A into your routine.

My Vitamin A Picks For Acne-Prone Skin:

The power of retinol paired with salicylic acid, makes this an incredible night time treatment for anybody dealing with acne. Plus, I think it’s probably one of the best topical retinoids for acne – sans prescription. It is quite expensive though but remember you only need a pea size amount, using it 1-2 times a week.

This serum not only helps clear your acne, but will help balance it with its soothing botanical extracts. Plus, it contains additional super gentle AHA’s, mandelic and lactic acid to help refine your skin and keep it blemish free. The Correct Preventative Retinal Serum from the same range is also a good option.

Oily skin peeps rejoice! Because your skin will love this lightweight retinol treatment as it’s quickly absorbed into the skin. This serum is mid strength although if your skin isn’t too sensitive could be a good retinol cream for beginners too. It’s strong, without being too problematic and is filled with hydrators which will help keep your skin’s moisture levels balanced.