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Let’s talk about the difference between Retinol and Retinoids – Often, they are used interchangeably. However, they do vary in significant ways.



A retinoid is a general term for any topical skin care product containing an active ingredient of Vitamin A. But often, it does refer specifically to a product that is prescription strength. Retinoids have been in use since the 1970s – They are a popular skincare treatment because they increase the skin’s cellular turnover, promote collagen production and stimulate new blood vessels. This, in turn, promotes healthy skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkle encourages fewer acne breakouts as well as less scarring or hyperpigmentation.



Retinols are a type of retinoid that is available over the counter and have a smaller percentage of retinoic acid. They are often paired with other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. They have been found to help boost collagen production, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, fade dark spots, and even out skin tone. While there are several different types of retinoids available on the market today, they all work in much the same way by increasing cell turnover rates so that your skin cells can regenerate faster than normal. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots while also helping to reduce acne breakouts. 



Now that we understand these two general terms let’s talk about Differin. Do you remember a little ole’ product called Retin A? Well, it’s got a new name: Differin! Differin is the only prescription-strength retinoid that is available without a prescription, and it’s used mostly to treat acne. While Differin is effective it can also be drying and harsh on sensitive skin. Differin is another type of retinoid that is most commonly used as an acne treatment but has recently been approved for use as an anti-aging product as well. Unlike tretinoin, Differin does not increase oil production but instead works by reducing inflammation and promoting healthy cell growth, which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines while also brightening up dark spots caused by sun damage or aging. It is important to note that Differin should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding due to its potential side effects on unborn babies or infants. 



Tretinoin is also known as retinoic acid. It’s the generic name for synthetic vitamin A. It’s sold under many different brand names. The difference between RETINOL and tretinoin is that retinol is a natural version, and tretinoin is a synthetic version of vitamin A . Retinol can be purchased over the counter tretinoin requires a prescription. They both treat acne, pigmentation, and fine lines, but tretinoin is slightly stronger and can be irritating to those with sensitive skin.


How do these products work?

These three categories of vitamin A derivatives come in many different forms and can show up with many different names. However, they all have one thing in common: Retinoic acid. Retinoid acid is a nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Retinoic acid is made in the body from vitamin A and helps cells to grow and develop, especially in the embryo.

All these products work by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath. They hamper the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deeper layer of skin where wrinkles get their start.

In acne, these products work similarly in that they promote the shedding of the top layer of skin but also block inflammatory pathways that make pimples and acne worse.


Should you use retinol or retinoid?

Most dermatologists will agree that using a retinol or retinoid will improve the health of your skin. No matter what your goals are, a retinoid or retinol product is a good addition to any skin care regimen. However, finding the right one may be a bit of a Goldilocks scenario. You will need to find the one that is just right for you. This is where an experienced esthetician or dermatologist can help. All three types of retinoids (tretinoins, Differin) are effective skincare treatments, but they each have their own unique benefits, so it is important to know how they differ when selecting a product for your skincare routine! When used correctly, all three can help improve the overall health of your skin while reducing signs of aging like wrinkles and dark spots caused by sun damage! With this information in mind, it’s time for you to do some research on what would work best for your specific needs!


Either way, having knowledge about the options out there is a wonderful place to start any skincare journey, and that is our passion and mission at Babyface.


Come see us at Babyface, and we can help you decide if an over-the-counter product is the right choice or if you should pursue the advice of a physician.