The Truth About Retinol

The Truth About Retinol

by Sarah Allen, MD

What is the difference in Retinol and Tretinoin? Retinol, just like Tretinoin is Vitamin A.  Tretinoin has been available on the market for almost 30 years and is a concentrated form of Vitamin A.  It is available by prescription only and is stronger or more abrasive than retinol.  Retinol also is a form of Vitamin A, but is typically easier to tolerate and is available over-the-counter.  Many retinol products may be contained in oleosomes or emulsions (tiny micro droplets of a material that don’t dissolve into the other component).  These tend to affect how quickly the retinol is absorbed by the skin and also help to decrease irritation. 

What can you expect with a retinol? A FACE ON FIRE!  When you start using it at least.  We like to say it feels “Spicy” @yourbeautynurse.  You can expect redness, irritation, dry and peeling skin, burning and sometimes, itching.  If you want to decrease the side effects, you can switch to a lower strength or decrease the frequency of application (you may only want to use 2-3 times per week to begin with and increase as needed).  You can also apply a hydration or calming product.  You can apply less product, but this will slow repair.  If you need to stop the skin reaction before an event, you will need to stop at least 4 days prior to event. 

You must be careful and steer clear of the eyes, mouth, neck and chest as these are sensitive areas that are more prone to irritation.  But, remember, “peeling is healing” and once your skin health is restored, the expected reaction will improve.

At The Skin Clique, we believe in helping you feel confident in your own skin by providing convenient, affordable access to medical-grade treatments performed by board certified experts - all in the comfort of your own home. To learn more, request a skincare consultation here. And remember, beauty knocks.  


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