Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Retinol and Retinoid

Retinol and retinoid are often used interchangeably as they are popular ingredients of skin care products and food supplements. They have been touted to reduce wrinkles, treat acne, lessen skin discoloration, and enhance the skin’s youthful glow. Dermatologists advise that these should be used at night as daylight deactivates these chemical compounds. They are both derived from vitamin A and processed into retinoic acid before the skin can use them.

Their initial syllables may sound the same but retinoid is specifically an umbrella term for retinol and prescription retinoids. On the other hand, retinol is more accessible as they are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs since they contain lower levels of retinoic acid. On the other hand, retinoids are generally prescribed since they have higher concentrations and are more likely to cause skin irritation. The following details further look into such distinctions.

 

What is Retinol?

Retinol is also known as Vitamin A1 and is taken as a food supplement to prevent and treat deficiencies. It was discovered in 1909 and was initially made in 1947 and is sold as an OTC generic medication. Due to its benefits, it is identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most essential medicines needed in a health system. Regarding skin care, retinol is a specific type of retinoid and it has been publicly available since 1984. It has been heavily advertised as a cure for acne and skin aging. It is touted to increase skin firmness and treat acne problems.

 

What is Retinoid?

Retinoid is a vitamer (a chemical compound having a similar structure with a certain vitamin) of vitamin A. It is a large class of compounds which has been found to facilitate epithelial cell growth, bone tissue growth, immune system function, and tumor suppressor gene activation. In the 1980s and 1990s, experiments concluded that this medication can lessen the wrinkling and roughness of skin. Retinoids have been used to treat skin cancers, inflammatory skin disorders, skin aging, skin wrinkles, acne, and other dermatological conditions. The side effects of retinoid include dryness, itching, redness, swelling, blistering, sensitivity to sunlight, and scaling.

The following are the three generations of retinoids:

  • First generation: retinol, retinal, tretinoin or retinoic acid, isotretinoin, and alitretinoin
  • Second generation: etretinate
  • Third generation: adapalene, bexarotene, and tazarotene

 

Difference between Retinol vs. Retinoid

Retinoic Acid Concentration

Retinol products contain lower concentrations of active retinoic acid (around 0.1 to 1 percent) as they are combined with other components such as moisturizers to lessen or prevent irritation or lighten the skin. On the other hand, retinoids have significantly higher content as they come in purer form.

Type

Retinoid is a large class of chemical compounds and is an umbrella term for prescription retinoids including retinol. Thus, retinol is a specific type of retinoid.

Prescription

Retinol products are OTC as they are readily available in serums, creams, and other beauty products while retinoids need to be prescribed.

Reaction Time

Retinol has a slower reaction time due to its less retinoic acid concentration; a consistent use for a few months (around three to six months) is needed to be able to see the effects. Retinoid works much faster with its more intense component. However, this may also mean the skin irritation is more likely to result from retinoid use than from retinol.

Sensitive Skin

Retinol is more appropriate for sensitive skin as there is less probability of side effects due to its milder concentration while retinoid is prescribed for less sensitive skin due to its more potent content. Retinoid may cause itching, redness, burning, and peeling.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Generally, retinoids should be first approved by the FDA as they are prescription drugs. On the other hand, retinol products are OTC; hence, some of these may not have been approved by the FDA.

Refund or Complaints

As compared to retinol, it is more likely to be able to have a refund or complain when the product is a retinoid since it is prescribed. The concerned physician and/or pharmacist will most likely explain the effects of the prescribed retinoid; hence, there is more accountability. As for OTC retinols, you can just buy the product and nobody is there to explain and be accountable for negative effects.

Retinol vs Retinoid: Comparison Chart in an Image Form

 

Summary of Retinol vs Retinoid

  • Retinol and retinoids are both derived from vitamin A and processed into retinoic acid before the skin can use them.
  • Retinol is also known as Vitamin A1 and is taken as a food supplement to prevent and treat deficiencies.
  • Retinol is a specific type of retinoid and it has been publicly available since 1984 and has been heavily advertised as a cure for acne and skin aging.
  • Retinoid is a vitamer (a chemical compound having a similar structure with a certain vitamin) of vitamin A.
  • As compared to retinols, retinoids have higher concentrations of retinoic acid.
  • Retinoid is an umbrella term of which retinol is a subtype.
  • Retinoids are generally prescribed medications while retinol products are OTC.
  • It takes longer for retinol products to produce results as compared to retinoids.
  • It is more likely to have side-effects such as redness, itching, and scaling from retinoid use as compared to having a retinol regimen.
  • Most retinoids are FDA approved since they are generally prescription medications while retinol creams and serums are not necessarily tested.
  • As compared to retinol products, it is more possible to get a refund or to complain if unsatisfied with retinoid products since there is more accountability concerning prescription medications.

 

gene balinggan

Gene Balinggan is a Registered Psychologist, licensed professional teacher, and a freelance academic and creative writer. She has been teaching social science courses both in the undergrad and graduate levels. Some of the major subjects which she is handling are Theories of Personality, Experimental Psychology, Historical Foundations of Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology.She co-authored a manual in General Psychology and a textbook, “Understanding the Self”. She is also currently the Psychology-Behavioral Science Society adviser in their university. Gene has also been a research adviser and panel member in a number of psychology and special education paper presentations. Her certifications include TESOL (Tampa, Florida), Psychiatric Ward Practicum Certification (Baguio General Hospital), Outcome-Based Education, and Marker of Diploma Courses (Community Training Australia). She finished her BS Psychology at Saint Louis University and her MAT Special Education and MA Psychology at the University of the Cordilleras.

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References :


[0]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d2/Retinoids.svg/517px-Retinoids.svg.png

[1]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/09/Retinol.png/640px-Retinol.png

[2]Lapolla, Brianna. “Help! What’s the Difference between Retinol and Retinoids?”. PureWow, 8 Jan 2019, https://www.purewow.com/beauty/retinol-vs-retinoids

[3]Webster, Ian. “Understanding Retinoids”. Dermastore, 2019, https://www.dermastore.co.za/understanding-retinoids-a-brief-history

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