SpringhouseDerm Integrated Cosmetic & Medical Dermatology

Retinol vs. Retin a. What’s the difference? By Dominique Marques, CRNP

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    Dr. Margo Weishar | Skin Care Tips | February 23rd, 2022

    Beautiful mature woman - anti-aging treatment

    By now we are all familiar with one of the number one beauty ingredients out there: retinoids. This ingredient has been the gold-standard of topical anti-aging for years, and for a good reason! It’s unique properties promote skin cell turnover with amazing results. But there is variation between products including these ingredients, and everyone reacts a little bit differently. Let’s talk through the differences, and how to choose the right one for you!

    Retinoids are a group of compounds that are derived from Vitamin A. When used in cosmetic products, these ingredients help to stimulate collagen, improve fine lines, smooth texture, and brighten the skin. Retinol and Retin A are both forms of retinoids, but what is really the difference between the two?

    Retinol is an over-the-counter formulation of a retinoid and therefore is in a weaker form. When a product contains retinol, when it is applied, the retinol must go through a conversion process in order for it to become its active form and stimulate all of the wonderful benefits it has to offer. Retin A, on the other hand, is a brand name for prescription strength retinoid. Being that it is prescription and only available through a licensed physician or practitioner, this is a product that is stronger than retinol because it does not have to go through the conversion process once applied. It is already in its active form! Therefore, it is more potent and can work quicker.

    Which product should you be using? This is where it can be tricky. All retinoids can induce dryness and shedding of the skin, because part of their job is to exfoliate cells quicker and keep pores unclogged. For some, this can be too much and can lead to excessive dryness, irritation, and shedding. We suggest meeting with one of our skin care experts at Springhouse Dermatology as we use a variety of medical grade retinol and prescription strength Retin A products based on your needs. If you have never been on either form before, it is never a bad idea to start with an over the counter product to see how your skin tolerates and adjusts to a retinoid before bumping it up prescription strength Retin A. Retinol and Retin A has been studied for decades and its benefits for anti-aging are well defined. It is one of those core products that almost everyone can benefit from as long as they find one that works well for them.

    It is important to be using these products correctly as that can play a big role in how your skin tolerates it. Our skin care experts at Springhouse Derm perform consults where a thorough evaluation is done to give you a personalized skin care regimen and how to use everything to maximize their benefits and results!