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Types of Retinoids: Retinoids vs. Retinol vs. Retin-A®

You probably already know the amazing skin-rejuvenation and anti-aging benefits of retinol, but did you know not all of these vitamin A derivatives are the same? Whether you want to treat acne, reduce fine lines, or even tighten skin on your neck, it’s important you find the right product for you. 

Bonus: The Best Aging Neck Treatments in Dallas

Our skincare experts at Spa in the City have worked with a lot of medical-grade retinoid products throughout the years. We always believe client education creates the best foundation for an effective skincare routine. With that said, here are the types of retinoids and how they work. 

What are retinoids?

Retinoids are a group of vitamin A derived antioxidants that can increase cellular turnover to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, tighten skin laxity, reduce hyperpigmentation, and treat acne. Basically, “retinoid” is a broad term that encompasses topical prescription, medical-grade, and over-the-counter products. 

What is retinol?

Retinol is a type of retinoid that is extremely effective yet easy to obtain. Since it’s not as strong on the cellular level as other retinoids, you don’t have to worry about a prescription. The main difference between retinoids and retinol is the concentration of retinoic acid (the active ingredient). Retinols have a lower concentration, which makes it less intense and more accessible. 

One thing to keep in mind is the type of retinol you use. Over-the-counter products typically contain ester forms of the substance (i.e. retinyl palmitate, retinyl linoleate, etc.) While these products can work, they require extra steps for the body to convert them into retinoic acid, which is what really makes the difference. Key takeaway: the more conversions required to get to retinoic acid = the weaker the product. 

What is Retin-A®?

Retin-A (tretinoin) is a prescription-only type of retinoid product. Although it takes several months to fully work, it works on the cellular level to reverse signs of aging and treat acne. It first sheds the outer layer of skin cells then increases cellular turnover for fresher, younger cells. From there, the product strengthens the underlying collagen framework to maintain a more youthful complexion. Keep in mind Retin-A isn’t for everyone, and you don’t need a prescription retinoid to see results. Since the product is so aggressive, it can lead to burning, itching, flaking, and extreme sensitivity to sunlight. Pregnant women should also avoid the product. 

However, if you would like to talk to your dermatologist about Retin-A, it’s a good product to use before aesthetic treatments like deep chemical peels, laser treatments, and microdermabrasion to promote healing and help prevent negative side effects. 

Learn more about the types of retinoids from Spa in the City

At Spa in the City, we’re dedicated to providing the best, most natural looking results possible. Our goal is for you to feel better in your skin, not erase your natural beauty. From the moment you step into our Dallas medical spa to the moment you leave, we will provide excellent client care while producing exceptional results. And as always we strive to find options that fit into your budget.  

Driven by our values—honesty, passion, and client commitment—we combine the highest quality aesthetic treatments with an unforgettable experience. Our unique V.I.P. membership program allows our clients to save money and enjoy exclusive perks on our procedures and products all year long.

Get started today by using our virtual consultation tool or scheduling an appointment. 

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