What Is Retinol?

Retinol is another name for Vitamin A, a vitamin found in food and dietary supplements. It plays an important role in the regulation of cell growth and healthy skin.

Retinol vs. Retinoids

While retinol and retinoids are very closely related, it is important to understand the differences, especially if you are considering using a retinoid for the treatment of acne. It would take a chemistry professor to fully explain how the two differ, so here’s the simplified version:
Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that naturally occurs in plants and animals. Retinoids are a class of medications that are chemically derived from Vitamin A.
Since retinol is mild and gentle to the skin, it is widely available in over-the-counter skincare products. Until recently, the stronger retinoid products (with more possible side effects) were available only by prescription. Today that’s changing as some retinoids, such as Adapalene, become available over the counter for the treatment of acne.