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.
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.
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).