Retinoic Acid vs Retinol


Retinoic Acid vs Retinol by Jen ~ The Natural Skin Doctor

I have recently been talking to patients about the value of active ingredients in their skincare that have research supporting their benefit. Many of my patients initially come in unhappy with the results they are getting from their skincare products (even natural ones) but don’t know what to look for to get the results they desire. Topical vitamin A is one of the most effective skincare ingredients to make your skin look smoother and younger.

Retinoids (a variety of forms of topical vitamin A) help to stimulate the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin; this helps to reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and large pores. They also aid in healing acne and fading hyperpigmentation. There are a number of different types of Retinoids found in skin care products including Retinyl Palmitate, Retinol and Retin-A. Retinyl Palmitate is not a bio available Retinoid.

Retin-A (AKA Retinoic Acid) is the acid form of Vitamin A (go figure, right?). Prescription retinoic acid is patented because it is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A. Retin-A can cause peeling, irritation, sensitivity, redness, discomfort and sun sensitivity in many people.

Retinol is the alcohol form of the vitamin A molecule, and is considered by many to be the purest and true form of Vitamin A. Retinol when used properly is not at all irritating or inflaming to the skin since the Retinol is slowly converted to retinoic acid. This is the form of vitamin A I recommend patients use for anti-aging purposes, to unclog pores, fight acne and fade hyperpigmentation from sun damage.

If using a retinol, I recommend finding a product that uses a Liposomal delivery system to ensure nutrients are absorbed into the skin. The liposomal nutrients are delivered directly to the skin by a lipid bi-layer similar to the body’s own cell membranes. These liposomes facilitate transport of nourishment into the skin. A liposome is essentially a tiny bubble made out of the same material as a cell membrane so they can deliver nutrients directly to the cells.

Find this super skin loving ingredient in our Vita Youth Oil and Vita Rich Cremé