Retin A vs Retinol – What Is The Difference?
If you have perused the shelves of any cosmetics counter you have definitely bumped into Retinol products, do they work as well as their prescription competitors? Where should you invest your precious beauty funds? Keep reading and you’ll have the answer!
Vitamin A Products – What Are They?
Both Retin A and Retinol products are derivatives of the amazing vitamin – Vitamin A! Vitamin A skin care products are called Retinoids, and are best known for thickening the skin, improving elasticity and slowing the breakdown of collagen. These are all important things to do in order to keep your skin clear, tight and acne free. They work by getting the top layer of dead skin cells to die off and move more rapidly off of your face. There is a myth that Retin A thins the skin (I think folks believe that because of some of the peeling that Retin A can cause) but the reality is they actually thicken the dermal layer and make it healthier.
Why Would You Choose Retin A?
There are 3 main prescription forms of Retin A:
- Tretinoin, including the brands Atralin, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, and Renova
- Tazarotene, such as the brand Tazorac
- Adapalene, such as the brand Differin
All of these come in varying strengths (ranging from .02-.3) and bases from gel to cream. The most commonly used strength is .05%.
What makes Retin A a superior anti-aging product is it’s ability to change and reprogram your skin cells. It’s the only product on the market that actually helps you grow healthier, plumper and denser cells.
Imagine that your Dermis is like the box springs under your mattress. Retin A actually creates a firmer base of support for the rest of your skin, helping it to look as healthy as it can – a nice, firm box spring! It’s advantage over Retinols is its ability to do this. Retinols work well on the top surface of your skin but do little, if anything to create a better Dermis. Generally speaking, Retinols are about 100 times less effective than Retin A.
Retin A Prescriptions also help do the following:
- Reduce the incidences of skin cancer
- Improve hydration in and around the skin cell
- Decreases hyperactive oil glands
- Improve blood flow
- Prevent Psoriasis
- Reduce redness from too much sun exposure
- Significantly reduce deep acne
- Tighten the skin
- Reduce age spots
The other positive about Retin A products is that they tend to cost much less than over-the-counter Retinols. There are TONS of choices for $35 or less in this category these days! If you’re interested, definitely work with your doctor to find the right prescription option for you.
What About Retinols?
Sometimes with some people, even the lowest dose of Retin A is simply too powerful for their face. In those instances, a Retinol is the next best choice. Retinols are fantastic AHA exfoliants and do a good job at reducing pigment and giving the skin a nice glow. Additionally, it’s important to fully investigate your Retinol. If a Vitamin A derivative, usually called Retinyl Palmitate, is not in the first 5 ingredients on your product, you’re probably wasting your money!
My personal favorite Retinol products are:
- Skinceuticals Retinol (0.5 or 1.0)
- SkinMedica Retinol Complex (.25, 0.5 or 1.0)
- Osmosis MD Renew
***Please note that all Vitamin A product use is not recommended when pregnant or breastfeeding
So to sum things up, I would definitely go the prescription Retin A route to get the best use of your money and to make your skin perform its best. It’s an especially a good product if you are skin cancer prone!
Need more information about skin care and skin care products?
Esthetician’s Daily Skin Care Regimen
Jennifer Warmann-Bloss, Esthetician
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