These Photos of Retinol Treating Acne in 3 Months Are Going Viral

“This stuff is a miracle in a tube."

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(Image credit: Reddit/@trulystellar)

Excuse Me, What?

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 (opens in new tab) 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.”

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(Image credit: Reddit/@trulystellar)

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 (opens in new tab), 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.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Brand)
Chloe Metzger
Chloe Metzger

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She brings nearly a decade of writing and editing expertise, and her work has appeared in AllureHealthFitnessMarie ClaireStyleCaster, and Parents. She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.