What’s the difference between Retin A and Retinol? And should I be using one?

March 14, 2012 / 2:34 pm

Q: I hear a lot about Retin A and skin creams with retinol…should I be using one? And what’s the difference?

A: There are a variety of skin care products on the market that incorporate Vitamin A derivatives, commonly called retinols or retinoids. These products benefit the skin in multiple ways but most importantly they increase skin cell turnover. This increased cell activity helps prevent blackheads, smooths fine lines, lessens the appearance of wrinkles, and lightens pigment spot from age or acne.

Tretinoin (the generic name for Retin A) is a prescription retinoid. Tretinoin is sold under several brand names: Retin A, Retin A Micro, Renova, Atralin to name a few. These products require a prescription so your dermatologist will determine which one is best for you based on your skin type.

Many over the counter products contain retinol. Nightly Therapy is one of my best selling products, it contains time released retinol and is safe to use around the eyes.

Most people can benefit from incorporating a retinol into their skin care routine. Retinols should always be used at night since sunlight breaks down the active ingredients. SPF must be worn during the day because the increased skin cell turnover will leave your skin less protected.

If your have no breakouts and very few fine lines, use a light retinol once or twice a week at night to exfoliate and help prevent the signs of aging.

If you have acne, visit a dermatologist and get a prescription for tretinion.

If you are fighting more pronounced signs of aging, use a retinol every night. Layer it under your moisturizer if your skin is dry.

Retinols are a great tool for increased skin health!

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