Retinol Vs Retin A

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There are at least 7 different retinoid products. They all come from the same source, and they all basically do the same thing. Some are just more powerful than others and those that are can only be bought when you are given a prescription.

4 of the 7 retinoid products are prescription only. There may be more depending on whom you talk to.

What is Retinol?

This product is called a natural skincare product. It is made from Vitamin A and can be purchased over the counter without any hassle. The process has retinol converting to retinoic acid when it comes in contact with skin enzymes. Without this contact, the product would be useless.

In addition to that, it is one of the slower working retinoids as you may need up to 6 months of treatment before seeing any real results. You will find retinol in most non-prescription skin care treatments and have real retinol in your beauty products. Vitamin A needs to be listed as one of the ingredients.

What is Retin A?

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This is one of the many brand names where tretinoin is listed as one of the active or just plain ingredients. If you see this listed in the ingredients you know that it is FDA approved to treat acne.

Also, this is one of the 4 retinoids where you need a prescription to purchase it, no matter the brand name. This product is more powerful than retinol and works faster than it as well. Since it is already a retinoic acid, it starts working as soon as you put it on.

How Are They Different?

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The biggest difference is that retinol is inert in its current state. It needs enzymes from the skin to turn it into retinoic acid before it begins working. This makes this acne option less powerful and slower than its competitor here.

Another difference is that retinol does not need a prescription to buy it. Retin A does but Retin A also works faster and does not take 6 months to show any results. Then, retinol may be safe for all skin types, and you may have to ask your doctor if Retin A is safe for sensitive skin.

How Are They Similar?

Woman with many freckles on her face applying serum to her face

Their similarities begin with their source. Both products have their source in Vitamin A and they work on your facial skin. You may see better results faster with Retin A because it does work quickly but it is basically doing the same job as retinol.

That is about where their similarities end. Retin A will have some side effects if you are not careful, something retinol does not have. It is the differences that separate these two products.

They both will address wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation but that is not the main focus of Retin A. Its primary focus is on serious acne issues.

What’s Better About Retinol?

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It is safer to use, and you can basically use it every day if you want. This product does not really produce any side effects and it is safe for those sensitive skin people to use without worry.

Also, it is probably cheaper than Retin A as it is the weakest of all the retinoid products. Plus, this product is good for those people with mild cases of skin issues so you can treat your face without spending a lot of money.

Then this product is found just about everywhere and in some of your favorite skincare brands. There should be no side effects when you use this product.

What’s Better About Retin A?

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While it is not available everywhere, it does have its strengths. One, it is fast-acting acne and skincare medication. This product starts to work as soon as it is applied to your face.

Then it is good for severe acne issues, something retinol cannot touch. While working on your adult acne, it will take care of any fine lines, wrinkles, and other skin issues that may be irritating you.

It is also one of the more powerful acne medications you can buy

Who Should Get Retinol?

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This product is for those people who do not have severe skin issues. If all you are worried about is a pimple popping in at the wrong time, some wrinkles, or fine lines, then this is the product you should buy.

Also, if you have trouble with hyperpigmentation this product should serve you well.

Who Should Get Retin A?

Woman massaging face of another woman laying on a spa table

This product is for those people whose facial skin issues are not mild. It is a very powerful medication that works on severe acne problems and helps clear them up. You will need a prescription from a doctor to get it and be prepared to pay more than you would for retinol.

Comparison Chart

  Category  Retinol  Retin A
  Strength  Mild  Very powerful
  Fast-acting  No, may take up to 6 months to work  Yes- results can come very quickly
  Need a prescription  No, this is an over the counter medication  Yes
  Side effects  No  Yes
  Ease of use  Very easy to use  Somewhat easy to use
  Cost  Reasonable and affordable  May be expensive
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