CeraVe Retinol Serum Helps Life-Long Fight Against Acne

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Despite what the media may have you believe, there are so many things to look forward to as you grow older. Life becomes full of different priorities as you move toward and through middle age. Many people start families, advance careers, build homes, and take fantastic vacations.

But for many aging people, one thing remains a constant. Acne.

Acne usually pops up during puberty for males and often goes away soon after. Sadly, for females acne usually waits until later in life to rear its ugly (black)head. For many women, it lingers for decades.

If you are suffering from adult acne as you move into or out of middle age, you are probably already well aware that your skin can no longer handle some of the harsher topical acne treatments it did in its youth. Your skin requires more gentle care as it ages.

What do you use when your skin is older and needs a more delicate but potent helping hand to fight acne?

This CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum review will show it is a gentle but powerful moisturizer that might be just what your skin needs. It uses excellent ingredients, such as potent retinol and soothing niacinamide, to reduce acne and help heal subsequent scars.

skincare lineup

What Does "Resurfacing" Mean?

In the world of skincare, you may encounter the term "resurfacing." What does this mean?

"A resurfacing serum increases cell turnover and gently removes dead skin cells to reveal more youthful, glowing skin underneath," said Dr. Onyeka Obioha, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is a popular non-prescription resurfacing serum. It is very gentle on the skin, so it can be used frequently without irritation.

Dr. Dustin Portela, a board-certified dermatologist in Boise, Idaho, explains:

"[High quality serums like CeraVe] are an effective way to deliver active and beneficial ingredients to skin in a lightweight formulation that can be layered with other products and won’t block pores. When you resurface the skin with CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, it should be a safer and more gentle alternative to harsh face scrubs that can permanently damage your delicate facial skin."

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum and other related products help to diminish acne scars, reduce post-inflammation hyperpigmentation (discoloration), and replenish the skin's protective barrier — all while minimizing the effects of dry skin. 

The Science Behind Retinol/Retinoids

Numerous studies have been conducted to ascertain what causes acne, and many treatments have been tested to determine which products best prevent and heal acne and its subsequent scars. Dermatologists rely on the data from such studies to create medical journal articles, peer-reviewed before publishing, to help other doctors and well-read consumers determine which products can help them with their skin care needs.

One such medical journal article, "Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Therapy for Acne," released in 2017, discusses about the many positive attributes of using topical retinoids to treat and prevent acne. 

As part of the research for this article, the authors talked to experts with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) about the efficacy of retinoids. The AAD stated that retinoids "are the core of topical therapy for acne because they are comedolytic, resolve the precursor microcomedone lesion, and are anti-inflammatory. [They] allow for maintenance of clearance.”

Comedolytics are products or medications that prevent the formation of blemishes (comedones). Microcomedones are the invisible lesions comprising the beginning stage of acne formation.

This means retinoids are clinically proven to clear up the early acne lesions forming on the skin, prevent the appearance of new blemishes, and provide anti-inflammatory properties for the skin, thereby reducing redness and puffiness that can exist due to acne.

Retinol is part of the family of compounds known as retinoids. All retinoids are derived from vitamin A but can vary in usage and benefits depending on their chemical composition.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum falls into the medium-strength designation of retinoids. It has more oomph than retinoid esters, such as retinyl palmitate or linoleate. Still, the retinol in this CeraVe retinol serum isn't as potent as isotretinoin (Accutane), which allows it to be purchased without a prescription.

woman putting on facecream

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum Ingredients

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum contains, in order of highest concentration to lowest: water, propanediol, dimethicone, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, niacinamide, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate (stabilizer), dipotassium glycyrrhizate (licorice root extract), hydrogenated lecithin, potassium phosphate, ceramide np, ceramide ap, ceramide eop, carbomer, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate, dimethiconol, lecithin, sodium citrate, retinol, sodium hyaluronate, sodium lauroyl lactylate, cholesterol, phenoxyethanol, alcohol, isopropyl myristate, caprylyl glycol, citric acid, trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate, pentylene glycol, phytosphingosine, xanthan gum, polysorbate 20, and ethylhexylglycerin.

With such a lengthy list of ingredients, breaking them out into beneficial, non-beneficial, and neutral helps understand the safety and usefulness of the serum. 

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum Benefits

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum offers many beneficial ingredients. It has moisturizers, emollients, ceramides, acne-reducing agents, color correctors, and components that help balance the pH level of your skin. Breaking down these benefits is crucial to determining if CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is the suitable serum for your skincare routine.


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Moisturizers in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Moisturizers are plentiful in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum. Dimethicone is the second most popular and considered one of the safest moisturizers for your skin, particularly your face.

There is conflicting data about whether silicone-based products are suitable for your skin, but the research indicates dimethicone is safe for topical usage in skin care products. It brings benefits such as reducing fine lines and wrinkles and improving softness due to its ability to retain moisture in the skin.

Sodium hyaluronate acts as a moisturizer by attracting and binding moisture to the skin's surface. The consumer is not provided with the amount of sodium hyaluronate in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, which would be helpful information. Still, numerous studies have shown this ingredient reduces the appearance of wrinkles, attracts moisturizers, reduces inflammation, and even helps heal wounds. 

Emollients in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Emollients are vital ingredients that draw and lock in moisture, creating a thin barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss. These work with moisturizers to retain more moisture you just applied to your skin. Cetearyl ethylhexanoate, hydrogenated lecithin, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate (at acceptable low concentration levels), dimethiconol, lecithin, propanediol, sodium lauroyl lactylate, isopropyl myristate, cholesterol, and others are used in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum to keep the moisture from the product locked into the skin for maximum benefit. 

Cholesterol is a particularly interesting emollient that is also an emulsifier. It holds moisture while keeping anything harmful out. It is especially beneficial in skincare products for people with dry or sensitive skin. Because the levels of natural cholesterol in the skin's barrier decrease with age, it helps maintain more youthful-appearing skin.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum includes cholesterol to naturally strengthen your skin's barrier.

Isopropyl myristate isn't only an emollient. It helps lock in moisture, but it also aids in the ability of other compounds to pass through the skin's barrier to be absorbed better. It is even added to topical medications for this quality.

The one caveat with isopropyl myristate in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is that it can clog pores. This is not good in a product meant to treat or prevent acne. This pore-clogging aspect does not impact many people who use CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, so this compound is still in the "benefits" section. 

CeraVe with box

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Ceramides in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Ceramides are essential to many aspects of skin maintenance. Since ceramides are the glue that holds the skin together to form that all-important barrier against the elements, replenishing them will help visibly improve appearance by reinforcing the skin's natural barrier.

Ceramides are vital in fighting conditions such as acne, eczema, and rosacea. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum has three ceramides working together to brighten and lighten the skin to reduce the appearance of flaws, blemishes, and scars.

In addition to these three essential ceramides, CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum also has phytosphingosine. This ingredient is an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory fat known to support skin barrier function. This fat works alongside ceramides to improve the strength of your skin's barrier.

Acne-Reducing and Acne-Preventing Agents in Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Acne-reducing and acne-preventing ingredients such as soothing niacinamide and retinol (this one does double-duty, see below) work alongside ceramides for clearer skin. Niacinamide is considered one of the most gentle and safe ingredients for acne treatment, but it is almost always used with ceramides and/or hyaluronic acid to improve overall performance. 

Niacinamide helps with many skin-related conditions, particularly acne and scarring from acne. It helps with hyperpigmentation (discoloration), redness, inflammation, and rosacea. It also reduces the look of visible pores.

The size of your pores can impact how smooth and even the skin appears. Less visible pores can reduce the risk of trapped dirt, and trapped dirt can cause irritation and the appearance of blackheads.

Discoloration and redness are often associated with post acne marks, so the inclusion of niacinamide with the retinol in Cerave Resurfacing Retinol Serum amps up the potency of this product for making acne-prone skin look better. Niacinamide also protects against oxidative stress, such as sunlight and pollution, by helping with cell regeneration.

People with severe acne with cysts and pustules are recommended soothing niacinamide to reduce their severity and help minimize scarring. 

Retinol minimizes the look of your pores, making your skin appear smoother. It is also one of the best topical products available to reduce hyperpigmentation, which helps reduce the severity of scarring from acne or other skin conditions that cause color changes.

Retinol is great for your skin, as established above. Still, it can be unstable and unpredictable in how well your skin will absorb and, therefore, how beneficial it will be.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum contains encapsulated retinol, but how does that help with acne? Encapsulated retinol is coated in a stabilizer, which helps to protect it from being affected by things like light, air, and heat. This encapsulation improves delivery within the skin and releases retinol over time, which is believed to increase the effectiveness of retinol in enhancing the skin's conditions.

Dr. Geeta Yadav, founder of Skin Science Dermatology and a board-certified dermatologist in Toronto, explains:

"[Encapsulated retinol] means that the active ingredient has been enclosed in a protective ‘shell,’ which allows it to better absorb into the skin, penetrating the deeper layers of skin before going to work. Because of this, many refer to it as ‘time-release’ technology; the retinol takes more time to start working rather than immediately releasing its benefits on the skin's surface upon application.”

By using encapsulated retinol, CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum can provide some of the best retinol absorption available over the counter.


Redness Reducers in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Redness and irritation reducers such as licorice root extract help restore the skin's natural pigmentation. Reducing hyperpigmentation is a necessary treatment for post acne skin as it reduces the appearance of scars while the skin is recovering from an acne breakout. 

Potassium phosphate is a pH-balancing compound that keeps CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum in the acidic range. Staying in this range helps all the other ingredients do the work they are intended to do while minimizing irritation to the skin. Sodium citrate is another ingredient in CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum that helps maintain the pH-balance of the product.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum Drawbacks

The main drawback with CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is that the company does not disclose the retinol percentage, which is a reasonably crucial attribute to know when making an informed decision about which skin care products to choose. 

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum also contains ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, an additive that helps keep the serum thick but easily spreadable by stabilizing the emulsification of combined ingredients. The serum contains an amount of this compound deemed safe for topical use, but it is a contested claim that ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate is genuinely safe.

Most documentation on products containing this compound report it is highly effective at maintaining a thicker, creamier consistency and providing mild moisturization by mimicking sebum, the skin's naturally produced oil.

However, there are concerns about the safety of this compound. You should cease using any product containing it if you notice irritation, dryness, or discomfort, and seek out moisturizers and serums without this ingredient. You should be able to use it unless you are sensitive to it.

Alcohol is a divisive compound to have in skincare products; nonetheless, it remains in many products. Although it helps other ingredients penetrate the skin's surface, is proven to kill some acne-causing bacteria, helps preserve the product, and makes thicker products feel smooth and lightweight during application, it also has some not-so-great attributes.

Alcohol has been known to harm the skin's protective layer while helping penetration. It can be highly irritating and drying to the skin and can even cause acne scarring and redness to linger longer than it otherwise would. It depletes the skin's natural oils, and repeatedly doing this can cause the skin to produce too much oil, which perpetuates the cycle of acne issues.

before and after cerave

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CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum Neutrals

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is jam-packed with good-for-your-skin ingredients, with only a few minor detractors. However, several components don't benefit your skin but aren't harmful or damaging. These are the neutral ingredients. Most are added to make the product last longer, make it easier or more satisfying to apply to your skin, or stabilize it for better absorption. 

Propanediol, mentioned above as an emollient, is also a preservative booster. One could contend that preservatives are a drawback, but a small amount is beneficial because it prevents the product from losing efficacy before buying and using it. 

Small amounts of preservatives are deemed safe for the skin and can lower the cost of products by increasing their shelf life in stores and at home without diminished quality.

Xanthan gum is another ingredient you might consider neutral. It is used as a thickener, but since not having it in the product wouldn't diminish the efficacy of the product, it is in the neutral category. It is a very mild component that is safe for all skin types and has no irritating properties outside of those who are allergic to it or the grain it is derived from.

Ethylhexylglycerin makes the neutral list despite having active benefits that make it standard in skincare products. Although it acts as a conditioning agent with anti-microbial, deodorizing, and preservation impacts, it has been linked to skin and eye irritation, particularly in people with contact dermatitis issues. 

skin routine photo

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CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum Verdict

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is an excellent product for acne-prone skin, especially when the skin in question is aging. It is gentle but full of powerful ingredients to reduce acne's severity and replenish the skin after and between acne breakouts.

Minimizing the appearance of acne marks through reducing visible pores, improving uneven skin tone, and replenishing the natural protective skin barrier are a few benefits CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum can offer your skin.

It also has potent moisturizers, inflammation reducers, and PH-balancing components, making CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum an excellent skin care product.

Throw in the fact that it is much more affordable than many similar products on the market, and you have a great product to help protect your skin from the impacts caused by acne.

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