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Retinol Vs. Retinoid

Close up of a woman's face while laying down on her back with someone moving a small paint brush across her face

One of the things you will learn if you have acne problems is that there are more than retinol and retinoid products on the pharmacy’s shelves. Some versions are weaker while others are stronger than these two medicines.

What is Retinol?

Gold framed sign with a black interior on a black background displaying the chemical makeup of Vitamin A and Retinol.

This is an anti-aging medication that is a derivative of Vitamin A. It is not the most powerful medication for acne and other skin issues, but it has been seen as the go-to option.

Its ability to help get rid of dead skin is what makes it so popular. Then it is not a miracle cure. It works slowly to make sure your skin is well taken care of. The slow speed and weaker formula mean that this over-the-counter medication should not irritate your skin.

This medication is found in different serums and creams.

What is Retinoid?

Person handing a pharmacist a prescription

This medication is a little stronger than retinol and works a little faster. It too is made from vitamin A derivatives, and it is said to be the label used by everyone to describe all the drugs found under this anti-aging category.

When people say retinoid, they may be referring to retinol instead of retinoid. Plus, you need a prescription to use this form of acne medication. This product will help soften wrinkles and work on other aging issues that your facial skin endures each day.

One drawback to using this product is that it may irritate your skin.

How Are They Different?

Woman laying on a white sheet with a white towel in her hair receiving a facial

The first difference is that retinoid needs to have a prescription by a doctor before you can buy it. It is a more powerful anti-aging medication than retinol and may be more expensive.

Another difference is that retinoids will work faster but they will also irritate your skin. Retinol does neither and your skin should be fine after you apply it per instructions.

Then there are different formulas used to make these two medications.

Those formulas have the medications working in different manners and use different methods. They basically have the same purpose one is just weaker than the other.

How Are They Similar?

Person painting white cream onto a woman's face during a facial

Their similarities begin with their source. These medications come from Vitamin A and are used to fight aging. They both work on acne and wrinkles. They help turn back the clock so you look younger than you really are.

Also, they help build collagen and fight hyperpigmentation. While they seem like super medications, it is best to use both at night before you go to bed. The drawbacks to these medications are they make your skin more vulnerable to UV rays and the damage they can cause.

Finally, both are easy to apply and should help you take care of your skin.

What’s Better About Retinol?

Clear brown bottle with eye dropper lid lifted above it dripping liquid back into the bottle

It is easier to purchase. You do not need a doctor’s prescription to purchase it. That fact should make the medication a lot cheaper and easier to find. This medication also does wonders on your pores, getting rid of dead skin quickly.

Then it is a milder formula that should protect your skin and not irritate it. That is always a good thing. Other similar medications can turn your skin red. Plus, the medication works slowly so that you can manage your skincare better and make sure you are being treated right.

What’s Better About Retinoid?

Close up of the waves in a facial cream

This version of retinol-like products is far stronger than its counterparts. That means it works fast. If you are in a hurry to clear up your face, this would be the product to try. Next, when you use this medication, you will be under the care of a doctor or dermatologist.

That means you will have guidance in its use and receive good advice and care if things do not go as planned. With retinol, you are basically on your own. There are several versions of retinoid, not all need a prescription to use.

You can get a retinoid to match the severity of your skin condition.

Who Should Get Retinol?

Close up of a woman's cheek with mild acne

The first group of people who should buy this product would be those people with sensitive skin. This product should not irritate their skin and it is easy to apply and purchase.

The second group of people who should buy this medication would be those with mild acne and skin issues. This is not a powerful medication, and it is not for all skin conditions.

Who Should Get Retinoid?

Close up of a woman's cheek with moderate acne

This product is for those people with tougher skin and can handle the powerful formula. Their skin should be able to endure the ingredients and not react to them unless there is an allergy present.

The second group of people who should use this product is those who have severe skin conditions. The powerful ingredients are made for such issues and should help clear them up quickly.

Comparison Chart

  Category  Retinol  Retinoid
  Source  Vitamin A  Vitamin A
  Strength  Not as strong as retinoids  More powerful than retinol
  Fast-acting  No  Yes
  Irritate skin  No  Sometimes
  Side effects  Possibly but not usually  Yes there may be some for some people
  Cost  Can be affordable and reasonable  Maybe a bit expensive due to the prescription requirement
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