You might have heard of retinol vs Retin-A when looking for acne treatments. At first glance, they seem almost exactly the same: They have similar names, and both can be used for acne.
However, while they do have a lot in common, there are also some differences between them. Learning a little more about them can help you decide which may be the right fit for you
What is Retin-A?
The difference is that Retin-A is a prescription medication that has been FDA-approved to treat acne.
Retin-A is a brand name for the generic drug called Tretinoin. Please don’t think that generic medications are of lower quality or that they won’t work as well.
All Tretinoin products work in the same way, speeding cell turnover and keep the pores free from blockages of blackheads to help to minimize the pore size.
Retin-A/Tretinoin medications also help soften fine lines, fade some dark spots/discolorations, and leave your complexion looking brighter and smoother.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is derived from vitamin A and AHA. Retinol helps soften fine lines and brighten the skin. It doesn’t work as quickly, nor does it work on the deeper layers of the skin like prescription retinoids.
Retinol is found in numerous over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products.
Difference between Retinol vs Retin-A
The difference between them is depth and speed! Retin-A penetrates immediately and into deeper layers of your skin to repair instantly.
Retinol takes a while to penetrate and repair. They are both good quality anti-aging skincare products. They are both safe to use by FDA recommendation.
How should I use them?
It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
If your doctor has prescribed Retin-A or recommended that you use a cream with retinol in it, follow these 5 tips to get the most out of your treatment:
Apply retinol or Retin-A once daily in the evening after taking a shower. You should also apply a moisturizer afterward to help keep the medication from drying out your skin.
Make sure the moisturizer is labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means it doesn’t clog your pores. Otherwise, it may cause more acne.
Apply only a pea-sized amount to your entire face. Applying too much can cause more skin dryness and won’t make it work faster.
Avoid getting the medication in your eyes, though it’s OK to apply it to the skin around your eyes.
Do not apply Retin-A at the same time as benzoyl peroxide (a medication found in many over-the-counter acne treatments). Benzoyl peroxide may keep Retin-A from working properly.