If you’ve ever dealt with acne, you know how much it truly sucks. It can feel like no matter how many prescription creams and drugstore serums you slather on your zits, and no matter how nicely you treat your face, your acne breakouts keep coming back with a vengeance.
So when one woman by on Reddit posted a before-and-after photo of her “cured” acne this weekend, the internet—and yours truly—naturally freaked out, congratulating her and demanding her routine. The key to her clear skin? Retinol, which cleared up her adult acne in just three months.
Excuse Me, What?
“Over-the-counter-products worked well for my mild teen acne, but after I turned 20, my skin started going downhill, which took a toll on my confidence and self-esteem,” the woman (who goes by Trulystellar on Reddit) tells MarieClaire.com. After two years of trying to self-treat her breakouts with no success, she eventually talked to her dermatologist, who prescribed her tretinoin (a type of retinoid that’s a bit stronger than retinol).
“This stuff is a miracle in a tube,” she says. “I immediately noticed a reduction in texture, and after a few months, my acne is gone and the fine lines on my forehead have vanished.”
The before-and-after photos show her forehead prior to using tretinoin, in all of its broken-out glory, along with a picture of her forehead after just three months, looking completely bright, clear, and smooth. Even though this looks like some mystical voodoo, it’s really just the result of the tretinoin, which speeds up your cell turnover to fade acne scars, unclog pores, and smooth wrinkles. It’s basically the holy grail for treating aging and acne at the same time.
Though tretinoin is only available through prescription, you can still try another over-the-counter retinoid, like Differin, which uses an ingredient called adapalene for similar effects. Just make sure to go slowly to mitigate any drying, irritating effects: Apply it one night a week for one week, two nights a week for two weeks, three nights a week for three weeks, and then every other night—or, if your skin has shown zero signs of irritation thus far, every night—indefinitely. Hey, good skin is a long game.