Can Retinoids be used for rosacea-prone skin?

Maria from WIMJ

If you've been struggling with rosacea, you might be told to stay away from retinoids because they can be irritating. While the irritation concern is justified, retinoids are actually used in medical treatments for rosacea.

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and changes to the blood vessels in the skin (and different subtypes of rosacea have different manifestations of these issues). Rosecea can also cause degeneration of elastin and collagen which can lead to wrinkles. Both topical and oral retinoids have been found to be helpful in treating rosacea. They work by promoting remodeling of the connective tissue in the skin and helps to reduce inflammation.

As with other skin benefits of retinoids, their effects on rosacea aren't immediate. It can take several months before you start seeing an improvement. But studies have shown that it's effective, so it's worth considering with your doctor if you're looking for something that can help in the long run.

I know you might be worried about the potential side effects of retinoids. Some people experience irritation when they use it and there's a concern that it might promote the growth of blood vessels in the skin. But, studies have shown that while retinoids can cause some irritation, they don't appear to increase the development of blood vessels. And, in fact, retinoids have been found to have anti-angiogenic properties, which means that they may actually help to inhibit the abnormal growth of new blood vessels.

Retinal in concentrations of about 0.05% might be the least irritating choice for a rosacea-prone skin. It’s best to start the retinoid slowly, once or twice a week at first. If your skin tolerates it well, you can gradually increase the frequency up to daily.

So, all in all, retinoids, especially retinal, can be beneficial for rosacea-prone skin, but it's important to remember that the effects are delayed, may cause some irritation and it's always better to consult with a dermatologist before considering using it.


  • Swiss S1 guideline for the treatment of rosacea

  • Retinaldehyde Alleviates Rosacea

  • Rosacea Management

Products with Retinal

Eczema Honey Eczema Honey Concentrated Cocktail Renewal Cream
Price: $20
Key ingredients
  • Retinal 0.1% estimated
  • Bakuchiol 0.5%
  • Colloidal Oatmeal
  • Adenosine
What we like about it:

Effective concentration of retinal + a hydrating formula that supports skin barrier

Avène Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Professional Cream
Price: $79
Key ingredients
  • Retinal 0.1%
  • Peptides
What we like about it:

Good hydrating delivery formula & declared concentration of retinal 👍

Dr. Different VITALIFT-A Forte
Price: $40
US, UK and international shipping from Soko Glam
Key ingredients
  • Retinal 0.1%
  • Adenosine
What we like about it:

Declared concentration of retinal in a moisturizing formulation