Retinol is a beloved skin care ingredient because of its powerhouse reparative qualities. But it’s not just confined to use on your face: Retinol body lotions are treatments that deliver the same transformative effects below your neck.
The world of body retinols is similar to the one you know and love for your face care regimen: You apply topically to reap a long list of skin-boosting benefits. It fights acne (but, of course, your chest, arm, leg, and butt pimples), stimulates collagen, smooths fine lines, and helps even out any pigmentation. And there are both prescription-strength and over-the-counter options to choose from.
You might be thinking, “Well, why don’t I just use the retinol products in my skin care routine for my body?” According to Dr. Mariano Busso, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Busso Dermatology, you’re more likely to experience intense irritation, especially in areas like the chest — which is why you should shop for body care-specific retinol formulas. That said, there’s still a chance of a skin reaction (it is retinol, after all).
“If irritation occurs, seen as peeling or redness of the area, stop the treatment and apply moisturizers until it subsides,” he tells Bustle. Once your skin has calmed down, he says you can dilute your retinol product by mixing it with a moisturizer to avoid further issues. Otherwise, remember to apply the product at night, avoid direct sun exposure (since retinol can make your skin extra sensitive to UV rays), and use lots and lots of SPF.
As far as prescription-strength options go, Busso says Tazorac was the first FDA-approved retinol for bodily use, but it is usually prescribed for psoriasis and other similar conditions. Then, in 2019 the FDA approved the first new RX retinol in over 20 years — Aklief (triafatorene) 0.005% cream. Aklief is a vitamin A derivative in the retinoid family (much like Tretinoin, a popular prescription retinoid) “but it is the most potent of them, being effective at the low concentration of 0.005%,” Busso explains. (As a refresher, “retinoid” is a blanket term for all vitamin A derivatives and includes retinol.) And, like other retinoids, it brings you the benefits of fighting acne, sun damage, and signs of aging — but it’s less irritating than the other Rx options, he says.
The appeal of Aklief is it’s a true remedy for body pimple woes, which are a common skin concern. “Aklief fulfills a space that was much needed: a treatment that prevents the development of acne lesions on the body,” says Busso.
Just to reiterate, like other retinoids, Aklief will require a prescription from your dermatologist. But if you’re looking to upgrade your body care routine, these are the retinol body lotions to stock up on.