Retinoids vs Retinol: What’s the difference?

Hello beauties,

When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, odds are that you will hear the names of retinoids and retinol in every skincare influencer or even dermatologist! And while the names look the same and can easily make someone confuse, the truth is that they are not!

It’s confusing, I know. Retinoids and Retinol are related. Think of them as if they were cousins from the same family but with key differences.

To help you understand which one is best for your skin, we have to know what they are, and how we should use them. So stay with us and find everything you need to know about these two anti-aging skincare ingredients.

Source: Pinterest

What are Retinoids?

Retinoids are derived from vitamin A that are converted to retinoic acid for skincare products. 

How do Retinoids work?

As we age, our natural collagen production and cellular turnover processes slow down, which results in signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and skin laxity.

Retinoids work by stimulating fibroblasts (the cells that are responsible for collagen production) deep within the skin.

They trigger cellular turnover making the skin brighter, reducing fine lines, and wrinkles, and plumping/firming the skin.

Are Retinoids used only as an anti aging?

No. Since they accelerate collagen production and cellular turnover, Retinoids can also help reduce inflammation and scars from acne.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a type of retinoid. The main difference is the molecular structure. In the skin, retinol is converted into retinaldehyde which becomes retinoic acid. The last one is the molecule that exerts positive effects on the skin. 

Retinol requires this extra step of converting to retinoic acid, making it less potent than other Retinoids. This can be good for those with sensitive skin. 

What are the side effects of using these ingredients?

The side effects of Retinoids are so well known that they even have their own name – retinoid uglies!

They can include peeling, flaking, irritation/redness, sensitivity, and dryness. It’s possible to avoid these side effects if you slowly introduce the ingredient into your routine. Your skin should build a tolerance after a few weeks. These two ingredients are highly recommended by dermatologists because skin types can tolerate them. What will vary is the vitamin A derivative and the concentration that you use.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using retinol or Retinoids. Your skin will tell you if you are using too much or too often. 

Remember that a little goes a long way, a pea sized amount of product should be enough.

How to use Retinoids and Retinol?

The word you must remember is Slow! Nighttime is typically best to use these ingredients because that’s when the skin repairs itself, as Vitamin A can cause sensitivity.

These ingredients should be used before moisturizing, but if you want to prevent irritation or if you are just starting up, then use them after moisturizing the skin. Once your skin becomes less reactive to Retinoids, you can increase the application twice a week. Eventually, you will be able to use it before moisturizing. Typically it’s easier for the skin to acclimate to retinol because it’s not as strong as Retinoids.

Can you mix other ingredients with Retinoids and Retinol?

No. Avoid exfoliants that contain BHAs, such as Salicylic Acid, or AHAs, like Glycolic acid because they can increase the absorption of the Retinoids/Retinol, causing more sensibility.

Now the question is, do you use Retinol or Retinoids in your skincare routine? If yes, what’s your favorite and why.

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