Retinol, Retin-A, Retinoids, Tretinoin? What’s What?
You may have heard the terms Retinol, Retin-A, Retinoids, and Tretinoin tossed about as you search for skincare information. At first glance, these names sound similar and many people are confused about how they differ from each other or if they differ at all.
Let’s unwind this tangled web and define the differences.
“Retinoid” is a medical term referring to a family of vitamin A and vitamin A-related chemicals in skincare. These topical vitamin A-based drugs are beneficial in acne and anti-aging treatment. Additional benefits may include fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin.
“Retinol” refers to a natural form of vitamin A, also called vitamin A1. Skincare products often include Retinol because it minimizes acne breakouts and provides other skincare benefits in a less intense form. Thus, Retinol is a TYPE of retinoid.
“Tretinoin” is also a TYPE of retinoid known as retinoic acid. It is sold under many brand names and is available by prescription only. It works best when used as part of a skincare regimen that includes sun protection. It is used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and rough skin by helping replace older skin with newer skin.
“Retin-A®” is the trademarked brand name of a prescription drug with FDA-approval for acne treatments. It contains tretinoin and is available in a cream or gel-based form at different strengths. It is important to avoid sun exposure following treatment.
How do these terms relate to each other?
Retin-A is a brand name for Tretinoin and both are prescription strength retinoids. Retinol is also a retinoid however because it is not as strong as Tretinoin, it is sold over the counter.
Which one is right for me?
Both Retinol and Tretinoin can be used for acne and anti-aging treatment. Prescription products containing tretinoin must adhere to specific standards, unlike most other over-the-counter products containing Retinol. These products are recommended as a part of a patient-specific skin care regimen. Our Medspa specialists are available to help you find the best skincare products for your skin concerns, and we carry a wide variety of medical-grade products. Contact us for more information.