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Retinol Vs Tretinoin

4 women with different shades of skin lined up with a side profile view

Acne is common. You may not know this but up to 50 million Americans alone, get acne. 85% of those 50 million only suffer from minor acne outbreaks and do not need a lot of treatment. Those people are usually between the ages of 12 and 24.

What is Retinol?

Beauty serum in 3 eye droppers. one laying down, one standing up and one with the top off. all on a blue background.

Retinol is derived from Vitamin A and is an over-the-counter acne medication. It is also used to help fight wrinkles and other skin issues. This product also helps speed up skin cell turnover, evens out pigmentation and does it without clogging pores.

One disadvantage to retinol is that it has a relatively short shelf life. This means you have to use it frequently before its effectiveness expires. But it is good for all skin types and should not cause any irritation even to those people with sensitive skin.

It is a slow working product though.

What is Tretinoin?

Gloved hands holding a yellow pill in one hand and a jar of cream in the other

This product also comes from Vitamin A and it is a pure concentration of retinoic acid. It is available through prescription only and it is the only FDA-approved retinoid medication to treat photoaging.

This medication is supposed to be 20x more potent than retinol so it must be approved by a doctor or dermatologist before anyone can use it. Because it is more potent than retinol, it also works about 2/3rd faster than that product.

This product works on the same skin ailments that retinol does, and you will probably pay more for the quick service.

How Are They Different?

2 dollops of cream smudged on a light blue background.

As you have just read, tretinoin is more powerful than retinol. That makes a big difference in how your skin ailments are treated. Then tretinoin is FDA approved for photoaging while retinol is not.

While retinol is an over-the-counter purchase and anyone can buy it, tretinoin is not and the customer does need a prescription from a doctor or dermatologist to buy this product.

A very distinct difference between the two, retinol comes in a once size fits all formula whereas tretinoin can have its formula tweaked to meet your specific facial needs.

How Are They Similar?

One hand squeezing serum from an eyedropper onto the back of another hand.

Even with their many differences, these two products have many similarities. One is that both products will help even out skin tone. A second similarity is that both products will improve skin texture.

Their exfoliation ability makes sure those dead skin cells are moved away from your skin quickly. Then these two products work hard to clear out your pores so that they can return to normal size.

As you age you do get some fine lines and wrinkles. These two products will help reduce those two aging items, making you look years younger than you really are.

What’s Better About Retinol?

Eyedropper  and bottle full of yellow liquid on a white background with drips of the yellow liquid all around.

This product can be considered the first step in your acne battle. If it clears up your acne, wrinkles, etc., then you do not have to spend any more money on doctors, dermatologists, and medication.

Then, it is not so powerful that it will harm or irritate your skin. Just about everyone can use it and see the results after regular use. It is easy to apply and just as easy to buy. It is an over-the-counter medication that lets anyone buy it when they need it.

The easy access helps out when you get acne in that wrong spot just before a big date.

What’s Better About Tretinoin?

a tube of Tretinoin Cream on a towel

It is a more powerful medication that should bring about fast results in 1/3 the time that retinol does. Its 20x potency means that it should work on major acne and other skin issues and clear them up before they become a major problem.

Then, the formula can be altered to fit your specific facial needs. That means you are getting a medication made just for you and not everyone on the block. On top of that, this medication is FDA-approved for photoaging if you have that issue.

It is a specialized product that works wonders on your skin and there are at least 50 years of study backing that statement up.

Who Should Get Retinol?

Woman getting a facial

Since the majority of people get acne and other facial issues between the ages of 12 and 24 that is the group that should use this product. Also, this is for those people who only have minor skin problems.

Retinol works on keeping your pores clean, moving dead skin cells, and so on. This is perfect for those young people who are concerned about how their skin looks.

Who Should Get Tretinoin?

Woman looking in mirror rubbing cream on skin.

This product is for those people who have more serious skin issues. It can be used for minor ones as well but that would be up to your dermatologist to decide. It is fast-acting and that is perfect for those people who want to see quick results.

Also, if you have photoaging issues, then tretinoin is perfect for that skin condition.

Comparison Chart

  Category  Retinol  Tretinoin
  Fast-acting  No  Yes
  Powerful  A mild medication  20x more powerful than retinol
  Need prescription  No  Yes
  Can it be customized  No  Yes
  Works on photoaging  No  Yes
  Cost  Affordable  Probably more expensive than retinol
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Retinol Vs. Retinoid

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Granactive Retinoid Vs Retinol