Retinol vs. Retinoids: Understanding the Differences and Choosing the Right Option


With the growing awareness of the importance of a skincare routine, it has also come as a surprise that people now more than ever want to know what difference a particular product in their routine would make along with the complete knowledge of how it’s going to work. With that being said, there’s a lot of conundrum surrounding these two ingredients called Retinol and Retinoids.

Read on to find out the difference between Retinol and Retinoid along with the differences they make to your skin.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a skincare ingredient that belongs to the family of retinoids derived from Vitamin A. It is a milder form of retinoid and is known for its amazing benefits on the skin.

5 Benefits of using retinol for skin

Being an ingredient that comes with s many benefits, here are a few answers to what does retinol do for your skin:

  1. It helps in lightening the dark spots, hyperpigmentation and skin blemishes.
  2. It exfoliates the skin and promotes cell turnover from 28 days to 18 - 21 days.
  3. It gives an instant glow to the face and helps with conditions like acne marks and spots.
  4. It contributes in boosting the collagen production that makes skin look more firmer and tighter.
  5. It improves the skin texture and its appearance overall.

    What are retinoids?

  6. Retinoids are derivatives and the most potent form of Vitamin A. They are stronger when compared to retinols. They are widely used in treating various skin conditions and are available only if you have it prescribed by the doctor.

    5 Benefits of using retinoid for skin

    Popularly known for its anti-aging and other important properties here’s what retinoids do for your skin:

    1. It reduces the signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and age spots on the skin.
    2. It is used to treat severe and several skin issues like acne, blackheads and whiteheads.
    3. It helps to unclog pores and faster shedding of the dead skin cells.
    4. It improves the skin colour by stimulating the production of new blood vessels.
    5. It softens the rough patches on the skin.

      What is the difference between retinol and retinoids?

      Here are a few differences between retinol and retinoids:

    1. Potency: Retinoids are a more potent form of Vitamin A then retinol and work faster comparatively.
    2. Nature: The retinoids are stronger while the retinol is milder which makes it possible to use for even people with sensitive skin.
    3. Availability: The retinol can be found in almost every skincare product whereas retinoids are only available if you have a doctor’s prescription and you definitely must consult a doctor before using it.
    4. Sensitivity: As far as skin reactions like, redness, dryness and irritation is concerned, retinoids are more likely to cause them. Whereas retinol is daily tolerated by all skin types.

      Should I Use retinol or retinoid?

      While both deliver an unmatched value to the skin, there are still a few factors to consider before option for one:

    1. Skincare Goals: If you are targeting skincare goals such as reduction of fine lines and other signs of aging, retinol would be a good choice. Whereas a retinoid can be considered if you are trying to improve some chronic and stubborn issue like acne and hyperpigmentation.
    2. Skin Sensitivity: Your skin sensitivity is another factor that it depends on. Retinol is milder in nature whereas retinoids are stronger.
    3. Availability: You should know that retinols are available over the counter whereas retinoids are not and need a prescription.
    4. Staple product: If you are looking to incorporate any of these ingredients into your skincare routine, opt for retinol. It will help your skin with a gradual yet permanent progress.



    Now that you are aware of the between retinol and retinoid, you can pretty much decide which one you should include in your routine. The Skincare products contain retinol to treat various skin conditions and deliver good results, however retinoids, the more stronger form of vitamin A needs a prescription and a proper lookout.


    -        Are retinol and retinoid the same?

    Retinol and retinoid are related compounds derived from Vitamin A hence the confusion of is retinol and retinoid the same. They differ in terms of effectiveness, potency and availability.

    • Retinol is a milder form of retinoid.
    • Retinoids are more potent that Retinols
    • Retinols are easily available over the counter whereas for retinoid you need a prescription.

    -        What does retinol do for your skin?

    1. It exfoliates the skin and promotes cell turnover.
    2. It evens out the skin texture.
    3. It improves the skin's elasticity.
    4. It helps prevent the clogging of pores.
    5. It contributes greatly in the reduction of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
    6. It boosts the collagen production in the skin.

    -        What does retinoid do for your skin?

    1. They stimulate collagen production and result in a smooth skin.
    2. They help in shedding off the dead skin cells sooner.
    3. They are used to treat skin conditions like acne, inflammation etc.
    4. They can inhibit the growth of blackheads and whiteheads.
    5. They minimize the pore size making the skin look soft and clean.



    -        How do you know if retinol is right for you?

    Using retinol depends on a few factors and here’s how you can find if it is right for you:

    1. In general for a sensitive skin type or even other skin types, you must first do a patch test and watch if it causes any reaction.
    2. A little redness after you rinse it off is normal and it should go away in a few minutes.
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