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Retinol vs retinoid | They Sound the Same, But There Are Differences


Mahlagha Homayouni


November 19, 2021


Retinol vs Retinoid; Which Is Which

Retinoids are the gold standard for treating acne as well as other skin issues including fine wrinkles, improving skin texture, and reversing hyperpigmentation symptoms. Retinoids aid to promote skin cell turnover and generate collagen when applied topically, among other things. Retinol is a gentler kind of retinoid that may be purchased over-the-counter. Retinol is less strong and has fewer negative effects than its prescription counterparts, but it takes longer to see benefits. Retinol vs retinoid is the objective of this post.

Retinol vs retinoid


skin assessment

Chapter 1

What Is Retinol?

Vitamin A in the form of retinol, it’s also known as vitamin A1 by others. Due to its support of elegant aging and good effects on acne and skin tone, retinol has gained appeal in the skincare industry in recent years. Retinol is available in a variety of forms, including liquid serums, gels, creams, and emollients.

It may be used topically to gain the various benefits it can give to one’s skin’s health. The advantages of retinol, how to properly include it in a skincare program, and any potential negative effects are all covered in this article. Retinol is a retinoid, which is a family of medications derived from vitamin A. Retinoids include both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription retinoid medications.

We suggest you read this article as well: A complete guide to skincare products

Chapter 2

What Is Retinoid?

Many people have lauded retinoids as a cure-all for skin disorders since the first one was licensed for acne in 1971. Although retinoids may not be the answer to every skin problem, they have been shown to help with a number of them.

Retinol vs retinoid

A retinoid may assist if you have moderate to severe acne that hasn’t responded to previous therapies. Retinoids can unclog pores when applied to the face, allowing other medicinal creams and gels to operate more effectively. They also prevent dead cells from blocking pores, which helps to avoid acne breakouts. They may minimize the production of acne scars by cleaning acne and minimizing breakouts.

Many individuals are perplexed when it comes to retinol vs retinoid. These two anti-aging chemicals are similar but not identical. Retinol is a form of retinoid, after all. However, retinoid is used to represent stronger prescription treatments, whilst retinol is used to describe weaker over-the-counter (OTC) formulations. OTC products are still effective, but they take longer to function and require more frequent usage.

When should you use prescription retinoids instead of retinol since they are less drying? Is it feasible to utilize both in a safe manner? Continue reading to learn more about these two skincare powerhouses.

We suggest you read this article as well: How to Get a Fair Skin Naturally: Home skin treatments

Chapter 3

Retinol vs Retinoid; Which One Should I Use

Before you choose a choice (!) think about your skin type and the severity of the problem you’re seeking to solve. Retinols are advised for those who have dry skin since they are less drying and often contain hydrating components.

People with sensitive skin should start with a less potent retinol product. Try retinol 2 to 3 times a week if you fall into any of the aforementioned criteria. You can gradually increase the frequency to daily usage after about a month. You may work your way up to a stronger product by rotating it over time once you’ve become used to a gentler one.

Retinol vs retinoid

Of course, with retinol, you’ll have to be patient because results might take anywhere from a few weeks to six months. A more effective prescription-strength retinoid may provide speedier treatment if you’re suffering from severe acne or other skin issues. You may be able to handle stronger retinoids straight away, depending on your skin type. Just bear in mind that dermatologists still advise taking it slowly at first.

Retinol vs Retinoid; What Are the Differences

In a nutshell, retinoids and retinol are two different types of Vitamin A. They have comparable anti-aging effects, but they do so over a longer period of time. Retinoids are FDA-approved and generally require a prescription, whereas retinol may be purchased over-the-counter.

Retinol and retinoid are both vitamin A derivatives with somewhat different chemical structures. The molecular nature of retinol leads them to convert more slowly. In other words, while all retinols are retinoids, not all retinoids are retinol.

Retinoids are often more powerful than retinol. They have a larger concentration of the product, and vitamin A in this form has a chemical structure that allows it to flip over skin cells faster than retinol.

We suggest you read this article as well: Skin Care Routine Reviews by Dermatologists in 2021

Retinol vs retinoid

Retinol produces comparable benefits, but at a lower quantity and with a longer time to achieve them due to its molecular structure. It is, nevertheless, still an effective product if you are ready to wait for the effects. The FDA has authorized retinoids for the treatment of acne, indicating that their efficacy has been demonstrated in clinical trials. The majority of retinoids are only available with a prescription.

You’ve probably seen retinol in a variety of prominent goods on store shelves. Although the FDA has not authorized retinol, it is accessible over the counter and is frequently advised by physicians to prevent and reverse the indications of aging and acne scars.

Of course, each retinol product will differ, and some may have low levels of the active retinoid, making it less effective. In general, most people will be OK with retinol if they are ready to wait a bit longer to observe anti-aging benefits. If you have acne or severe acne scars, retinoids may be ideal for you since the high concentration causes cells to flip over faster and produce faster effects.

Chapter 4

Retinol vs Retinoid; What Are the Side Effects

While the advantages of retinol have been well proven by medical studies, taking it on a daily basis might produce retinol burn, which is a painful side effect. When people first start taking retinol, they may experience retinol burn, also known as retinol irritation, retinization, or the “retinol uglies.” Retinol products with greater concentrations (such as tretinoin) have a higher chance of producing retinol burn. Retinol burn causes the following symptoms:

  • Painful irritation
  • Redness or discoloration
  • Dry skin
  • Flaking

Your skin cells change their behavior when you first begin taking retinol. The top layer (epidermis) and deeper layers of your skin (the dermis) are both affected by this alteration.

Retinol vs retinoid

While retinoids can help cure a variety of ailments, they should be used with caution since they can irritate the skin, especially in persons with allergies, dry skin, or sensitive skin. Before utilizing any retinoid products, you should consult with a physician. The most common cause of skin irritation from topical retinoids is long-term usage of high dosages. As a result of this discomfort, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Skin redness
  • Skin scaling
  • Excessive skin dryness
  • itching

The uncommon following side effects affect fewer than 10% of people:

  • Extreme skin sensitivity due to exposure to sunlight
  • Eczema flare
  • Initial acne flare-up
  • Skin swelling
  • Stinging and blistering
  • Skin discoloration

One of the most alarming retinoid side effects is the possibility of congenital defects. Oral retinoids should not be used by women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

Retinol vs retinoid

People should wait between 2 and 3 years after taking oral retinoids before becoming pregnant to avoid the risk. The amount of time it takes will be determined by the type of retinoid employed. When using oral retinoids, a person will also be unable to donate blood.

We suggest you read this article as well: Wrinkle Treatment: 12 Hacks And Home Remedies To Naturally Prevent Wrinkles

Chapter 5

Retinol vs Retinoid; How to Utilize?

If you’re thinking about including retinoids or retinol into your skincare routine, you might be wondering if there is an optimum time to do so. After washing your skin with a mild cleanser, use retinoids and retinol at night.

To avoid irritation, use a pea-size quantity and apply once your face is completely dry. After that, using a moisturizer might help you avoid inflammation. Start with a few evenings a week and gradually increase your use once you’ve established that your skin can withstand the product. Also, don’t forget to apply sunscreen every day.

Are you thinking about combining retinoids? This is best avoided, according to experts, because it typically leads to an increase in irritation and dryness. Retinoids can interact with other formulae, so check the ingredient list of your other skincare products as well. Certain substances, including benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acids, have the potential to deactivate retinoids, rendering them useless.

We suggest you read this article as well: Complete Guide to Do Mesotherapy at Home in 2021 + Devices and Products

Retinol vs retinoid

Retinoids used with astringents such as ethyl alcohol or witch hazel, on the other hand, might dry up your skin and cause irritation and redness.

If you have more severe acne or psoriasis, or if you’re confused about what’s best for your skin, you should consult a dermatologist before using any type of retinoid. They can suggest the appropriate product for your skincare needs and provide tailored guidance on how to safely use retinoids.

Remember that obvious improvement in your skin might take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. If you’re not satisfied with the results after three months, consult a doctor or dermatologist for further information. If you have any serious negative effects while using retinol or any other retinoids, you should stop taking them and consult your doctor.

Chapter 6

Retinol vs Retinoid; Why You Should Add Retinoids in Your Routine?

Five different forms of retinoids are used to cure wrinkles:

  • Retinyl palmitate. This is the least effective over-the-counter retinoid. If you have sensitive or severely dry skin with minor wrinkles, you might want to explore this choice
  • Retinaldehyde. This is an over-the-counter retinoid that is more potent than retinol
  • Retinol. This is the most common component in over-the-counter retinoid products
  • Tretinoin. This is a powerful retinoid that can only be obtained with a prescription
  • Tazarotene. This is the most potent retinoid, and it’s only accessible with a prescription

Adapalene. This retinoid is now accessible without a prescription

Retinol vs retinoid

The way a retinoid is made can have an impact on its effectiveness. Because of how rapidly alcohol-based gels enter into the skin, they are regarded as the most effective of all formulations. They’re also good for skin that’s prone to breakouts. Your skin may respond more positively to the nourishing benefits of cream-based retinoids if you have more mature or dry skin.

Acne Treatment with Retinoids

A retinoid may assist if you have moderate to severe acne that hasn’t responded to previous therapies. Retinoids can unclog pores when applied to the face, allowing other medicinal creams and gels to operate more effectively.

They also prevent dead cells from blocking pores, which helps to avoid acne breakouts. They may minimize the production of acne scars by cleaning acne and minimizing breakouts.

Oil production, acne-causing germs, and inflammation are all treated with retinoid tablets. Once a day, 20 to 30 minutes after washing your face, apply a pea-sized dollop of retinoid cream on your skin.

When you initially start using retinoids, you may experience redness, peeling, or worsened acne. You may reduce this by using the product every other day until your body adjusts, or by combining it with a moisturizer.

Wrinkles Treatment with Retinoids

Tretinoin was the first retinoid to be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of wrinkles. This prescription retinoid stimulates the production of new collagen. It also promotes new blood vessels in the skin, giving it a pink look, eliminating age spots, and lowering actinic keratosis which is precancerous skin lesions. Tretinoin may also assist to protect against the more significant side effects of UV exposure.

Retinol vs retinoid

Although over-the-counter retinoids don’t perform as well as prescription retinoids in reducing wrinkles, they can help sun-damaged skin look better. Using them in conjunction with alpha-hydroxy acid-containing products may give even greater skin-smoothing benefits. At least twice a week, apply retinoids to your face, neck, chest, hands, and forearms.

Psoriasis Treatment with Retinoids

In psoriasis sufferers, retinoids can reduce the proliferation of skin cells. Typically, a little dab is applied to each sore once a day before bedtime. A retinoid cream or gel is frequently used in conjunction with steroid therapy.

Warts Treatment with Retinoids

When alternative therapies for warts have failed, doctors may give retinoids. The wart’s cell development is disrupted by retinoid cream. When administering retinoids to warts, follow your doctor’s recommendations. Warts may take a few months to vanish after using creams. Flat warts on the back of your hands may respond well to retinoids.

Retinol vs retinoid

How to include retinoids into your skincare routine?

Before incorporating a new product into your routine, you should always conduct a skin patch test:

  • On the side of your forearm, apply a tiny quantity of the product
  • Wait 24 hours after applying a bandage to the affected region
  • You should not use this medication if you experience any discomfort or inflammation
  • It should be fine to apply elsewhere if you haven’t had any symptoms in the last 24 hours
  • Apply a pea-sized amount every other night after the product has passed your patch test
  • It should be used after cleansing and toning but before applying your bedtime moisturizer
  • You can start using the product every night after a week or two

Because of their severe effects and UV sensitivity, retinoids are only taken at night. To lessen the chance of side effects, make sure you apply sunscreen during the day.

Chapter 7

Retinol vs Retinoid; Why You Should Add Retinol in Your Routine

Because of its capacity to permeate the stratum corneum and dermis of the skin, retinol has a variety of applications that can help skin health.

To aid in the treatment of acne

Acne is a common chronic skin disorder in which dead skin cells and glandular oils clog the skin’s hair follicles. Bacteria can get into these closed holes as well. According to a 2017 article, topical retinoids such as retinol help minimize abnormal skin peeling that plugs pores and unclog them. Retinol can also help to lessen inflammation by inhibiting the chemicals that cause:

  • Blackheads
  • Pimples
  • Whiteheads
  • Cysts

Retinol vs retinoid

According to a 2017 report, topical retinoids such as retinol help minimize abnormal skin peeling that clogs pores and unclog them. Retinol can also help to lessen inflammation by inhibiting the chemicals that cause it.

According to a 2019 systematic review, topical retinoids can effectively and safely treat acne. It also implies that a person’s topical retinoid dosage is more essential than the type of topical retinoid they take. In addition, retinoid therapy in conjunction with an antibacterial agent may increase acne treatment effectiveness, according to the review. A person with severe acne may require stronger retinoids, such as isotretinoin (a weaker retinoid), than retinol.

Anti-aging characteristic

Skin aging can be caused by both biological and environmental causes, such as:

  • UV light exposure
  • Pollution
  • Smoking

These can cause the skin to lose suppleness and the epidermal layer of the skin to store less water. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), visible indications of skin aging include:

  • Sagging
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles

Skin aged by UV exposure may also display darker blotches on the skin, known as age spots. According to the 2019 study review cited earlier, retinol can protect against collagen breakdown while also stimulating cell turnover and collagen formation in the skin.

Retinol can also thicken the epidermis and lower the quantity of water that evaporates from the skin passively. This can make the skin appear plumper and help to decrease and delay the effects of aging. Topical application of retinol at a concentration of 0.4 percent resulted in enhanced epidermal thickness and better blood flow to the treated region of skin in a small 2017 research.

Retinol vs retinoid

Collagen and elastin gene expression have also increased, according to the researchers. This shows that retinol enhances the dermis’ microenvironment. After 8 weeks of treatment, retinol enhanced the look of wrinkles around the eyes and on the neck, according to 2019 research. Short research published in 2016 examined the effects of retinol and retinoic acid.

Retinol has lesser effects but is still beneficial in boosting epidermal thickness and collagen expression, according to the study. After using retinol for more than 12 weeks, a facial imaging examination revealed a considerable reduction in facial wrinkles.

To improve the skin’s look

Because of its influence on cell turnover and collagen formation, retinol can help to improve the look of uneven skin tone and texture. It also has the ability to lighten the skin. Hyperpigmentation and unevenness were reduced in individuals who took retinol serums at dosages of 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent for 8 weeks, according to a small 2020 research.

However, people who took the 0.5 percent serum had greater symptoms, according to the study. The benefits of a 3% intensity retinol peel on participants, including persons of color, were explored in a 2019 research. The peel dramatically improved pigmentation and complexion, according to the research.

According to the experts, this therapy approach is safe and beneficial for persons with various skin types. However, the American Academy of Dermatology warns that persons of color, particularly those with a dark complexion, should exercise caution while taking retinol. It may irritate the skin, resulting in hyperpigmentation. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that those who use retinol begin carefully and evaluate their results.

Retinol also has the following advantages:

  • According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, retinol can be used to treat keratosis pilaris, a condition that causes the skin to become rough and bumpy
  • Retinol also strengthens and thickens the epidermis, which may protect the skin from external stresses such as pollution, according to research
  • Retinol can also help to reduce the look of acne scars, according to the AAD. According to a new study from 2019, it can also help to reduce the appearance of pores

Retinol vs retinoid

Retinol vs retinoid; Bottom Line

Retinoids provide a wide range of skin advantages, from minimizing wrinkles to alleviating the effects of sun exposure and relieving breakouts. You might be tempted to jump right in with stronger products to get those advantages right away, but your skin will appreciate you if you start with the lesser ones. For the most part, this means beginning with a less potent OTC retinol.

If you wish to increase the strength of your skincare routine, we at mahimo can help you.

Retinol vs retinoid


What face wash do dermatologists recommend?

According To Dermatologists, These Are The Best Face Washes For Every Skin Type
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser.
Beauty Aura 100% Pure Grapeseed Oil.
SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel.
Herbivore Bamboo Charcoal Cleansing Bar Soap.
PCA Skin Facial Wash and Glytone Mild Cream Cleanser.
Simple Micellar Cleansing Water.

How can I have a beautiful face?

Wash your face twice a day. Cleansing or washing your face form the basis of a good beauty routine for flawless skin, and it should not be compromised on, no matter what. ...
Massage your face. ...
Drink A LOT of water. ...
Wear sunscreen everyday. ...
Use a face mask regularly. ...
Get enough sleep.

What is the best face wash?

15 best drugstore face washes and cleansers of 2020
Eucerin Sensitive Skin Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser.
La Roche Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser.
St. ...
CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.
Cetaphil PRO DermaControl Oil Removing Foam Wash.
Purpose Gentle Cleansing Bar.