What is Retinol?
Retinol is just another name for the entire vitamin A molecule. It is considered a cosmetic ingredient and found only in non-prescription products (mostly skin care). Retinol can be broken down to become other forms of vitamin A that are found in skin-care products or prescription products.
An example of a cosmetic form of retinol in skin care products is retinyl palmitate. Generally, pure retinol is considered more effective than retinol derivatives. PCASkin’s Intensive Age Refining Treatment contains 0.5% Pure Retinol (Vitamin A) and it is converted to retinoic acid in the skin. Vitamin A helps to promote a clear complexion and an even skin tone.
Prescription retinol products such as Renova and Retin-A contain the active ingredient tretinoin. Tretinoin is far more potent than retinol, but comes with a higher chance of irritation.
Why is Retinol Good for My Skin?
Whether in over-the-counter or prescription form, vitamin A in all its forms works as a cell-communicating ingredient. That means it can actually tell a skin cell to behave and even look like a more normal, younger cell. When you have sun damaged skin this communication is incredibly beneficial because sun damaged skin produces unhealthy, abnormal, and inflexible skin cells.
When dermatologists discuss “prescription retinol”, they’re referring to various forms of vitamin A that can only be used in prescription medications. Renova or Retin-A are the best known prescription forms of retinol containing the most “active” form called tretinoin (also known as all trans retinoic acid or retinoic acid).