Retinoids That Don't Burn?

While we all love retinoids, do you know what they do? Retinoid users frequently complain about stinging or even burning because the product they're using is too intense. Fortunately, there's a solution called adapalene.


Adapalene is often referred to as the cousin ingredient of retinoids. Adapalene is intended to be safe for sensitive skin, and many people result to it after they've had bad experiences with retinoids like tretinoin. If you can relate to this, this blog is going to be your how-to guide.


What is adapalene gel?

Adapalene is a topical retinoid. “Retinoid” is an umbrella term for a variety of products that include vitamin A molecules. Adapalene is a synthetic molecule, which is a great because it was made to specifically target receptors in our skin. Retinoids bind to certain chemical receptors in the skin and cause the skin to speed up cellular turnover. Likewise, the skin sheds faster so newer skin can be revealed. Retinol is the vitamin A product most commonly seen over the counter, but it does not contain active retinoic acid, making it less potent. Retinol has to be converted into vitamin A within the skin to do it's work. Therefore, adapalene is stronger but more gentle than tretinoin.


In the past, you've needed a prescription for adapalene gel, but with brands like AcneFree, you're able to get it OTC.


AcneFree Adapalene Gel 0.1% Once-daily Topical Retinoid Treatment - $9.47



AcneFree, helps with acne like whiteheads, blackheads, non-medical, and non nodular cystic acne.

It's ADA approved which means that the FDA has tested this and proven it to be helpful for acne, but because it is in this retinoid family, yes, it helps with other concerns too.

There’s medical evidence to show that adapalene helps with hyperpigmentation. Although maybe not as much as tretinoin, it also help with antiaging, fine lines, wrinkles, and things of that nature. Retinoids regulate and increase your skin cell turnover. Let’s say that your skin cells make “X” amount within 28 days, retinoids are going to shorten those span of days. This is why retinoids make us peel, but it's also why skin gives us a glow and makes us peel


So, what is the difference between adapalene gel and tretinoin (retinoic acid)? 


Remember, that retinoic acid is made naturally by our bodies. So, when you apply it to the skin, its bioavailable meaning your skin just take it in. Whereas retinol or retinaldehyde, your skin has to transform into a retinoic acid. But like tretinoin, AcneFree immediately binds, making it more potent than retinol. Adapalene regulates that skin cell turnover, and it makes sure that these skin cells don't get stuck and clogged pores. This leads to more glowing skin, less break outs, and skin that looks more plump and hydrated.


Does Adapalene heal scars?


Cassandra largely attributes the healing of her to the use of retinoids. Cassandra used retinoid for a good four to five years, and she also had other things done like chemical peels and medical microneedling.


Is AcneFree oil-free?


This formula is oil-free, and it is also fragrance-free for those who are sensitive. Moreover, because it is adapalene, it is medically proven to be better for sensitive skin. It is less sensitizing than retinoic acid which is a prescription product. This is not only dermatologist-tested but dermatologist approved. A dermatologist could test something and not like it whereas dermatologist-approved means the dermatologist likes it.


How do you adapalene gel?

As mentioned before, most people who start retinoids go through a retinization period. So, while you still want to take it slow with adapalene gel, it's going to be a lot less dramatic than applying tretinoin to your skin.


Step 1: Apply to dry skin


A lot of people like to apply their serum or toner to damp skin, which for most skincare ingredients, could work, but doing this can actually increase the penetration of retinoids, causing irritation. So, when using retinoids, especially on sensitive skin, Cassandra recommends starting with a pea-sized amount and applying it onto dry skin. AcneFree is oil-free and fragrance-free so it should be safe for sensitive skin. But, even if you do have dry skin, this should be good.


Step 2: Sandwich the Adapalene


If you're really worried about irritation, you can sandwich the adapalene gel. This means applying a thin layer of moisturizer, applying the adapalene gel, and then going back in with another layer of moisturizer. This helps lock things in, but it also adds a little bit of a barrier. So, the retinoid can get into the skin at a slower pace.


You can also titrate. So, instead of using this amount every single day, use a small-pea sized amount once a week, then, you can increase to every 2 days, then 3, and every four 4 days over a period.


Can you use retinoids during the day?


There's a myth that you can't use retinoids during the day, but that's not true. Although using it at night is recommended, you can use retinoids during the day. Just remember that sunlight degrades retinoids. So, if your using a retinoid at all, you need to wear sunscreen and protect your skin. Also, the product is going to be more efficacious at night.


Are retinoids pregnancy-safe?


Just to be safe, avoid using anything in the retinoid family while pregnant.