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Retinoic acid vs retinol: what’s the difference?

Retinoic acid vs retinol: what’s the difference?

Retinoids vs retinol: what’s the difference?

Retinoids is a term you’ve probably been hearing a lot of lately in the world of skincare. Celebrities rave about them and you’re more than likely to have heard friends espouse their value – and for good reason.

Retinoids are the big guns of skincare and have the ability to effectively reduce lines and wrinkles and create a smoother, more youthful complexion.

Given their power and potency, it’s important that before incorporating retinoids into your skincare regime, you understand what they are, how they work, and if they’re right for you.

Here’s what you need to know about retinoids and their most common type, retinol:

What are retinoids?

Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A, which are converted into retinoic acid for use in skincare. The term retinoid covers both over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinoids.

Retinoids are the real power houses of skincare. They are antioxidants, making them highly effective in fighting wrinkles, but they also promote collagen production, which can further reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

By increasing cell turnover, retinoids can also help improve skin texture and lighten dark spots.

The most powerful retinoids are available by prescription only, which our qualified skin doctors at Bass Coast Skin Doctors can arrange for you.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a type of retinoid, found mainly in over-the-counter skincare products.

The main difference between retinol and other retinoids is strength and effectiveness. Retinols contain a lower concentration of retinoic acid. Retinols need to be converted by the body into retinoic acid and thus lose considerable potency.

Prescription retinoids, on the other hand, have a much higher concentration. Prescription retinoic acid is considerably more effective as it doesn’t need to be converted and can act directly at the source for maximum benefits.

Should I use retinoic acid or retinol?

Whether you choose to use retinoic acid or retinol will depend on the type and severity of the skin issue you want to treat.

Retinols work best on minor conditions or on people with dry or sensitive skin. Sometimes people will start off using retinol to test their sensitivity before moving on to retinoic acid.

When and how to use retinoic acid and retinol

Both retinoic acid and retinols should be applied at night to freshly cleansed skin.

Only a small amount is required and application should be followed by moisturiser. Retinoic acid and retinols should be applied daily, and it’s important to use sunscreen every day.

It’s best to avoid using more than one retinoid and there are some retinoids that must not be used with other products.

Some products contain ingredients that can dry out your skin and lead to redness and irritation when used in combination with retinoic acid and retinol, so it’s best to avoid mixing products.

Be sure to speak to your skin doctor first regarding the use of retinoids and retinol so they can tailor the products to your specific skincare needs.

What about topical retinoids?

Topical retinoids (retinoic acid) are prescription medications that are stronger and more powerful than retinols.

Topical retinoids are prescribed to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles.

They stimulate the production of collagen, which can make skin look and feel smoother and firmer, help repair damage caused by the sun and treat moderate acne.

What are the side effects of retinoids?

Some people who use retinoids may experience mild side effects, including slight irritation, redness, dryness and flaking. Retinoids can also make the skin sun-sensitive, so the daily use of sunscreen is a must.

Generally, the stronger the retinoid, the greater the chance of experiencing side effects, and it is recommended that people with sensitive and dry skin start with a lower potency and slowly build up tolerance.

Retinoids are not suitable for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive.

Do I need a prescription for retinoids?

Only retinoic acid requires a prescription.

It’s always advisable to choose a skincare professional that is a doctor and has the training and experience to provide the best and safest care.

Bass Coast Skin Doctors is able to provide this care because we have qualified skin doctors and, as such, are able to provide prescriptions for retinoids.

Book your skin consultation today

There are several types of retinol and retinoid products and it’s essential that the one you choose is right for you. The only professional who can determine that is a qualified and experienced skin doctor.

Retinoids can only be prescribed by a doctor, and our doctor-led skin clinic has practitioners who are extensively trained and experienced in retinol and retinoid use.

Get in touch to discuss how retinoids and retinol can supercharge your skincare routine. Call (03) 5618 7007 or book an appointment online.