As you age, fine lines and wrinkles begin to form. Sorry, but it’s the truth and on top of that, your
skin also loses its smoothness and elasticity. Skincare and drug companies have worked feverishly to develop products that will reverse these signs of aging. These products contain derivatives of vitamin A. The two popular forms are retinol and Retin-A (which is a brand name for tretinoin). These retinoids are often believed to be interchangeable, but there are some very important differences.
The biggest difference between Retinol and Retin-A is how they are formulated. Retinol is a natural form of vitamin A and can be found naturally in the body. It is usually added to other ingredients in order to create creams and serums that can be applied directly to facial wrinkles. Retinol is the most common form of vitamin A used in over-the-counter skin care products, in concentrations of .075 to 1 percent. It is much weaker than its prescription retinoids. Unless vitamin A is listed as one of the top five ingredients and the product is packaged in an airtight opaque bottle (need to prevent oxidation), what you’re getting might not be all that effective.
While Retin-A is not a natural form of vitamin A and is created synthetically in labs where skincare products are developed. Retin-A, as previously mentioned, is the brand name for tretinoin. Unlike Retinol, it is only available by prescription.
Both work in the same way; by speeding up cell turnover, which means that they both encourage dead and dying skin cells to slough away from the surface more quickly, causing new growth underneath to be revealed at a faster rate. They are also both used for acne treatment as well as for treatment of fine lines and wrinkles because when dead and dying cells are shed from the surface of the skin more quickly, clogged pores are cleared away as well. Retin-A also keeps dead skin cells from sticking together and clogging pores, which means that existing acne is cleared away more quickly and new breakouts are prevented.
Both Retinol and Retin-A have similar side effects that include stinging and redness at the point of application, peeling, burning, itching and flaking. You may also see a temporary increase in acne breakouts if you are using either one to treat this problem however, these symptoms should resolve in a few weeks and then start to see improvement.
Most importantly, no retinoid products should be used by pregnant women or those that are breastfeeding. And remember, before you shop for skincare products and try to figure out the Retinol and Retin-A dilemma, you should work closely with your dermatologist in order to make an informed decision and how these two ingredients are formulated and which would be best for your skin.