Retinol Vs Retinoid

Retinoids boost collagen, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles and evens out skin tone. They also clear breakouts and treat hyperpigmentation and acne scars.

Retinol is a milder form of vitamin A that requires enzymes in the skin to convert it into retinoic acid before it’s active. It’s available over-the-counter in different strengths and formulations including gels, creams and lotions.

How They Work

Both adapalene and retinol require a step to convert into retinoic acid before they can bind with the skin’s retinoic acid receptors. Using products with acids (like glycolic acid or vitamin C) while using a retinoid product can interfere with this conversion and may cause irritation and other side effects.

Both can help even out your skin tone and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. They’re also highly effective at treating acne. Retinol can help treat blackheads and whiteheads by preventing clogged pores, and it can also help with psoriasis by reducing the appearance of scaly patches.

Retinol can make your skin drier, especially right after you start using it and for the first few months, so you may want to layer it with a serum that contains hyaluronic acid. It can also lead to flaking and redness, so you’ll need to be patient when introducing it to your routine. It can take up to a month for the skin to adjust to retinol, but it’s well worth the wait!

Side Effects

Both tretinoin and retinol can cause some potential side effects, like irritation, dryness, redness or flaking. It’s important to talk to a dermatologist about your skincare goals and concerns before starting treatment so that they can advise you on how to manage any possible issues.

Both vitamin A derivatives promote cell turnover and exfoliation, helping reduce pore size by preventing the buildup of oil and dead skin cells that contribute to acne. They also help smooth skin tone by dispersing melanin granules, making it look more even.

Tretinoin is more potent than retinol, which makes it a more effective solution for acne and wrinkles. However, it can be more irritating for sensitive skin types. Minimize potential side effects by following a consistent morning and night skin routine and using sunscreen. Always use a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher and reapply frequently. And remember that tretinoin can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight so it’s important to wear a hat and sunglasses, too.


Retinol is a popular go-to ingredient that doesn’t require a prescription and can be found in many over-the-counter beauty and skin care products. It’s less powerful than tretinoin but is still effective in improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, boosting collagen production, minimizing acne and breakouts and brightening your complexion.

Retinoid products are typically applied at night and should be stored in a dark container to slow down the speed at which they degrade. Because they can increase the sensitivity of your skin to sun exposure, most dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen daily with any retinoid product.

The amount of vitamin A that enters your body through topical application is minimal, so retinol poses less of a risk to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (Kaplan, 2015). However, it’s important to discuss any concerns with your healthcare professional before using any type of retinoid. Whether you choose retinol or tretinoin, it’s important to begin with the lowest possible concentration and slowly increase the dosage as your skin becomes used to it.

Over-the-Counter Options

The upside of tretinoin is that it’s effective for treating both acne and wrinkles. However, it’s stronger than retinol, which means it can cause a higher incidence of skin irritation and dryness (especially right after you start using it). It’s also only available with a prescription from a dermatologist, and it’s not recommended during pregnancy.

The closest thing to prescription tretinoin you can get without going to the dermatologist is Differin Gel, which contains 0.1% adapalene, an over-the-counter form of tretinoic acid. It’s best used 2-3 nights a week at first, and you should avoid certain facial hair treatments and leave-on benzoyl peroxide while your skin adjusts to it. Another option is Ro’s Custom Cream, which you can customize for your skin type and concerns, and have delivered to your door — no trip to the dermatologist or insurance hassle required! It has 0.01% tretinoin and other ingredients, like azelaic acid and tranexamic acid, that help calm and soothe the skin. tretinoin vs retinol



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