Retinoids is the umbrella term for a large family of Vitamin A derivatives. The cells in our skin are equipped with retinoid receptors that dictate how the cell functions. By communicating with these cells, Retinoids encourage cell turnover and support collagen production. They are scientifically proven to improve skin tone, texture, smooth lines and wrinkles and combat acne by helping unclog and prevent clogged pores, minimizing their appearance.
There are different forms of retinoids and they vary in effectiveness and speed of results. Basically, when it comes to retinoids there are two categories: the prescriptive side, and the non-prescriptive side.
Prescriptive Retinoic Acid (Retin-A, or Tretinoin) is only distributed by dermatologists. Retin-A first grew in popularity 30 years ago as an effective acne treatment. However, early users of Retin-A also noticed a younger and more vibrant complexion. Retinoic Acid achieves faster results than non-prescription retinol, but like with many Rx-grade formulas, there are some side effects, like dryness and irritation.
Retinol is the purest and most widely known form of Vitamin A available in over the counter (OTC) products. When applied to the skin, Retinol converts to retinoic acid on the cellular level. Biochemically, Retinol and Retin-A are effectively the same - they differ in the speed of cellular communication. Retinol takes longer to synthesize on the cellular level, achieving results over a longer time period. However, the results are comparable with it’s Retin-A cousin while being more gentle on the skin.
When it comes to picking an OTC retinoid, you should always look for Retinol in its purest form. Retinol derivatives, like retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate, are much easier to formulate but are significantly weaker than Retinol in its effectiveness. So make sure you check your labels when buying a retinoid product.