Q. Is there a difference between tretinoin (Retin-A) and retinol?

A. While tretinoin and retinol are similar and can be used for similar concerns, there is a difference.


For starters, tretinoin was developed more than 25 years ago as a topical treatment for acne, but researchers accidently discovered the astonishing anti-wrinkle effects the patients experienced - and quickly began using it for that purpose, too.


Tretinoin is Vitamin A, is available by prescription and tends to be a bit more aggressive than retinol. Those who are oily or have tolerant skin are best suited for tretinoin.


Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and it is a bit more suitable for those with sensitive skin. Retinol products tend to also contain moisturizers or emollients to reduce the possibility of irritation. Retinols are available over the counter - however at very low strengths.


To see more optimal results, medical strengths may be needed and are available without a prescription at medical facilities such as UW Health Transformations.


What are Retin-A and Retinol Used For?

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Both tretinoin and retinol stimulate epidermal turnover. It causes skin to rapidly exfoliate and make new, brighter skin while stimulating collagen and elastin. The result can be smoother, thicker skin with fewer imperfections, such as sun spots.


One of the most exciting benefits can be softer lines and wrinkles, as well as less acne or acne scarring.


Who Can Use Retin-A or Retinol?


Almost anyone can benefit from one of these products. However, they can tend to be a bit irritating to skin, causing dryness or peeling. Keep in mind that the side effects of irritated skin will subside after a few weeks once your skin has adjusted to the product and increased its cell turnover rate.


The benefits of these products can be great, although they may not be suitable for everyone. It is always best to consult with a qualified professional to see how to use these products and which is most suitable for you. 


Request a Free Skin Consultation


To learn more about the potential benefits of these products for your skin, and to have a complimentary skin consultation, call UW Health Transformations at (608) 836-9990 or request a consultation online.