How Long Does It Take for Retinol to Work?

face serum

As the cosmetic industry evolves, we are introduced with multiple products with varying active ingredients. Once such an ingredient is retinol that promises to work on specific skin concerns and give blemish-free skin. You can find retinol as a main ingredient in different skincare products, targeting acne and giving you flawless skin.

However, one question that always pops up in everyone’s mind is, how long does it take for retinol to work?

If you have been using retinol for a long time or are thinking of including it in your skincare regime lately, this article will help you find the answer to your query. Let’s find out the science behind retinol and when it starts showing visible results.


Retinol is an active ingredient that is derived from vitamin A (1). It is commonly used in skin care products and cosmetics, or as an active ingredient in different skincare products. Due to its nature of being fat-soluble, it can be easily absorbed in the body and the face.

Over the years, retinol has been observed as a miraculous ingredient in skincare products. It treats the skin in multiple ways and helps improve various skin issues such as acne, blemishes, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and aging signs.

Retinol is readily available over-the-counter as a topical application cream. It can be available in the market in the form of-

  • Ointment
  • Cream
  • Gels
  • Lotion
  • Serum

How Retinol Benefits Skin?

How Retinol Benefits Skin

Before we understand how long retinol takes to show results, it is important to understand on which skin concerns it works. Below are some of the major advantages of retinol for skin-

  • Improves texture of skin: Retinol helps to increase the skin cell turnover (2) and scrap off the dead skin cell. This proliferation of skin cell turnover initiates new cells faster, which results in a plump and smooth outer layer.
  • Diminish wrinkles and fine lines (3): The increase in skin cell regeneration with the help of retinol also helps in increased production of collagen. Collagen helps to maintain elasticity of the skin. Less elastic means more wrinkles and fine lines, that happens when collagen starts to decrease with old age.
  • Unclogging of pores: People with oily skin are prone to acne because it produces excess sebum in the pores. Retinol also works as an exfoliant and helps in cleaning the blocked pores of the skin. It balances the sebum production and improves acne, breakouts and blemishes.

How Long Does It Take for Retinol to Work?

take for retinol to work

The answer to the above question depends on which skin issue you are using retinol specifically. For instance, it could take more time for retinol to reduce hyperpigmentation than reducing acne. Below we have mentioned the time it takes for retinol to work for different skin issues-

  • Hyperpigmentation: Hyperpigmentation is considered as intended to last for a long time but is not permanent. Depending on the level and cause of the issue, it might take 12 weeks for retinol to start showing its effect. It can take a little longer for hyperpigmentation to improve.
  • Wrinkles: For signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines, it can take 2-6 weeks.
  • Acne marks and spots: For acne marks to fade and clear out, it is recommended to pair retinol along with other skincare treatment for faster results. It might take months to see the positive result and also consistency is the key.
  • Even skin tone: To improve the dullness and even out the skin tone it can take somewhere from 3-10 days. Within 10 days you will be able to notice the difference in the skin before and after.
    Most people start to notice an improvement in their overall skin texture and quality within four months of regular use of retinol. Here, it is important to mention that the results will only be visible when you use retinol religiously with amiss. Including it in a daily skincare regime is essential to make the most out of it.


Retinol is a holy grail for all skin concerns, including acne, skin aging, and blemishes. Regular use of skincare products with retinol as an active ingredient can help resolve major skin issues, including acne and blemishes.

As retinol is a potent ingredient, applying sunscreen after a layer of retinol serum is advised, as it makes the skin sensitive to the sun. At the same time, you need to be patient with the application of retinol, as it might take a little longer to treat the skin problem. Likewise, you should be consistent in using it to reap the maximum benefits.

Image Source : freepik

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