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Retinoid vs. Retinol

Think they’re the same? Not exactly. When it comes to treating acne, knowing the facts can make all the difference.

Topical retinoids play a crucial role in the treatment of acne. Retinoids like adapalene (the active ingredient in Differin® Gel) regulate skin cell turnover to keep pores from clogging and to control inflammation.



Did you know? Both retinol and adapalene are retinoids, but only adapalene is FDA-approved to treat acne.



Retinoid, Retinol and Adapalene —
a closer look


Retinoid [ret-n-oid] n.

A generic word describing a variety of products that have a form of vitamin A activity.

retinol
adapalene
Retinol:
Simple vitamin A
Adapalene:
Advanced retinoid specifically designed for acne
Retinol:
Common ingredient found in food like meat and poulty, and in certain skin-care products
Adapalene:
Powerful, acne-fighting active ingredient in Differin® Gel, previously available only by prescription
Retinol:
Not approved by the FDA to treat acne or any skin condition
Adapalene:
Far more potent than retinol—the only FDA-approved, prescription-strength retinoid acne treatment available over the counter (OTC)
Retinol:
Vitamin A must be broken down by the body into an active form to become useful
Adapalene:
Active from the get-go; starts working once you put it on your skin


Adapalene:
Treats

Treats
acne deep in the pores

Prevents

Prevents
new acne from forming

Restores

Restores
skin’s natural tone and texture as a result of reduced acne

retinoid 101

RETINOID 101

Want to learn even more about retinoids and the important role they play in treating acne?

Get the Facts PDF icon
A dermatologist’s perspective

How does retinol work?

In order for [retinol] to become useful, your body needs to break it down into an active form.
Dr. Adam Friedman
Differin Gel (adapalene 0.1%)

Differin Gel (adapalene 0.1%)

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