The science bit

About Retinol and Retin-A

Many people get confused over the difference between similar sounding names like Retinoids, Retinol and Retin-A, words you might have heard on TV ads for cosmetic products you can buy in the shops. Here’s what you need to know.


What Are Retinol & Retin-A?

Both Retinol and Retin-A are Retinoids, derived from Vitamin A.


Retinol is a natural form of Vitamin A, found in many over-the-counter skincare products and known to be fairly gentle.  Retinol itself doesn’t alter the skin directly, it only becomes effective when it converts to retinoic acid on the skin.  Despite what the TV ads say, many over-the-counter products have very little Retinol in them and therefore are not as effective as the products we provide.


Retin-A is more powerful than Retinol products. Tretinoin is the brand name for Retin-A and is also the active ingredient. It is only available on prescription, used to treat inflammatory acne and unsightly marks left by acne breakouts.  However, it has also found its way into the cosmetic arena where it is used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, to brighten the complexion and reduce hyperpigmentation, where the skin is highly coloured.

How Quickly Will I See Results From Retin-A?

You will see results from our Retin-A treatment within 6 weeks. But over-the-counter products containing Retinol can take much longer, more suitable as a first line treatment or for sensitive skin.  The Retinol skincare products available over-the-counter are nowhere near as strong as those available at a clinic like ours, whether non-prescription or prescription Tretinoin (Retin-A).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Side Effects of Retin-A and Retinol?
Retin-A and Retinol both come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Retin-A is stronger, which means you will experience side effects like dryness, peeling and flaking. This is normal because it’s commonly used for acne treatment and some cases for acne rosacea. The side effects of Retinol are not as strong, but it takes longer to achieve the results you want. Whichever you choose, you must use a sunblock because the treatment leaves your skin more susceptible to sunburn in all kinds of weather, even when the sun isn’t out.
How Should You Use Retin-A and Retinol?
We advise our clients to start slowly, maybe using the product 2-3 times a week at night then gradually build up to using it every night. It essential to apply a good sunblock every morning.
How Will I Feel After Retin-A and Retinol Treatment?
Once you have achieved the full effects of the treatment, anything from 3-6 months down the line, depending on whether you use Retinol or Retin-A, you will have a smoother, fresher and brighter complexion. Your skin will look younger, with reduced lines and wrinkles.
Disclaimer: Results and patient experiences may vary. These are dependent on a number of factors including age, medical history, lifestyle and more.
Professional consultation to advise and guide you.
Book OnlineCall The clinicView Pricelist

Spread the cost of your treatment over a time period that works for you.

We’ve teamed up with Payl8r to help our patients find flexible and affordable payment options.
  • Affordable monthly payments
  • Get your treatment without having to wait
  • Number of treatments available
  • Easy to apply
  • Free consultation with us
  • Funding from £200 – £5000 available

Professional consultation to advise and guide you.

Get expert advice at a time to suit you.