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Retinoids, Retin-A, All-Trans Retinoic Acid, vs. Retinol.

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

For the past decade or longer, retinoids have been considered one of the most effective topical treatments for reversing the signs of aging... but between retinoids, retinol, all-trans retinoic acid and Retin-A, how do you know what's best for you?


Retinoids are a broad class of synthetic and naturally occurring Vitamin A compounds and derivatives that include retinol, all-trans retinoic acid and retinoic acid (Retin-A). Some retinoids, such as retinoic acid (Retin-A), are available with a prescription only. Other retinoids, such as retinols, are cosmetic and used in skin care products like The Best Skincare's Night Rejuvenate Cream.

When looking at skincare products, it’s important to remember that “retinoid” is a very general term and doesn’t specify the type of retinoid compound in the formula. The only type of retinoid that your skin processes immediately is retinoic acid. All other forms of retinoids are converted by skin enzymes into retinoic acid before the skin is able to use it. All-Trans Retinoic Acid (ATRA) The use of a natural retinoid (refered to as all-trans retinoic acid) can make a big difference as a stand-alone ingredient as it has many benefits. These derivatives of vitamin A increase keratinocyte turnover and decrease melanocyte activity. They also increase the permeability of the epidermis, allowing for better penetration of other serums and active ingredient creams you are using. All-trans retinoic acid is also proven to promote healthy skin cell rejuvenation, reduce the depth of wrinkles, fade fine lines, and lighten age spots. In proper concentrations and percentages trans-retinoic-acid can preform like retinoic acid (Retin-A) without causing skin sensitivity and irritation. The Best Skincare's Night Rejuvenate Cream contains rosehip seed oil which contains high levels (up to .357 ml/L) of "all-trans retinoic acid" which is also known as "tretinoin". While tretinoin (all-trans retinoic acid) and retinol are similar and can be used for treating similar concerns, there is a difference. ... Those who are oily or have tolerant skin used to active ingredients and treatments are best suited for tretinoin/all-trans retinoic acid. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and it is a bit more suitable for those with sensitive skin.


Retinol is a specific form of vitamin A that is naturally produced in your body. When retinol is applied topically, enzymes in your skin convert the retinol into retinaldehyde and then into retinoic acid. Because of this two-step conversion that it must undergo before the skin can use it, retinol is naturally gentle. The conversion of retinol from the cream into retinoic acid in the skin can take at least a few weeks, which is why you should use retinol products consistently for a few months before expecting to see results.


Retin-A is retinoic acid and is a prescription-only tretinoin cream. It can be used directly by the skin as soon as it's applied which makes Retin-A products approximately 100 times stronger than the average retinol cream. Even the lowest strength Retin-A is stronger than the highest strength retinol product. This strength comes with major side effects and can cause itching, scaling, burning, peeling, and extreme redness when you first begin using the medication. Traditionally, Retin-A has only been prescribed for severe acne or those looking for fast results and not minding any down-time.

Retinoids are incredibly effective ingredients for an ageless complexion. But it’s important to take your skin concern and skin type into consideration. If you’re battling serious adult acne in addition to wrinkles, talk to your dermatologist about Retin-A. However, if you’re looking for an effective anti-aging measure, try a skincare night cream infused with all-trans retinoic acid like Night Rejuvenate Cream. And remember: all retinoids increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun so be sure to use SPF daily while using any retinoid treatment!

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