This $35 French Retinol Gel Works Wonders Without Irritating My Sensitive Skin

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Let’s Just Get to the Point:
As someone with sensitive, temperamental, breakout-prone skin, I often have to stop myself from believing that my problems can be solved by one miracle product. But when used in conjunction with a well-rounded skin-care routine, one product can certainly make all the difference. A313 Vitamin A Pommade ($18) has helped me get back on track to controlling my adult acne and all of the baggage that comes with it.

If You Want to Know More:
When I stumbled upon A313 (SHOP NOW), I was at a point in my skin-care journey where I knew I had to reintroduce retinol into my routine. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a week without an active breakout and on top of that, my acne was leaving behind pigmentation that was getting progressively harder to fade. But my flashbacks of the nightmarish flaking and dryness throughout my first round of tretinoin gave me pause about diving back in full force.

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Fortunately, an article I read in The Strategist that featured A313 praised it for its ability to make a noticeable difference without the side effects of your typical Retin-A formula, and mentioned it was quite the effective spot treatment too. After looking into the science behind A313’s formulation, I found that its active ingredient is retinyl propionate is an ester of vitamin A that is broken down by our skin’s enzymes and converted to pure vitamin A acid, making it a more tolerant form of vitamin A.

One of the main tenets of retinoid use is consistency. And depending on the severity of the issues you’re looking to treat, results won’t start being noticeable until weeks or months into your new routine. My experience with retinol products confirms that—my skin is still on its way to getting where I want it to be—but with A313, I seemed to notice results with less extreme side effects. The texture of A313 is a lot more balmy than your traditional retinoid gels (it certainly earns its categorization as a pomade), and by default, feels less drying. When using, you still need to proceed with caution: make sure your skin is dry before application, or else you’ll experience some unpleasant itching. Be cautious of whether certain areas are more prone to irritation than others and planning application accordingly.

My first impression of A313, after one night of use, was a significant reduction of the small bumps along my cheekbones and around my chin. Of course this seemed less drastic the more I used it over the span of a few months, but I am still satisfied with the texture being gradually smoothed out and the dark marks left behind by clusters of cystic pimples slowly lightening. The fact that these initial results came with less severe side effects—I could put on foundation in the morning and by the end of the day my skin wouldn’t look cracked and dry—motivated me to be consistent with it. When I look in the mirror and see a more even complexion, it makes the effort worthwhile.

Any product with retinol can be game changer when it comes to combating aging, pigmentation and acne. Reincorporating it into my skin-care routine only reminded me of that. Sometimes you have to do a little more digging to find a product with the formulation that’s right for you.

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