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Retinol vs. Retinoids

I know you probably looked at the title and said, "...but Phoenix, aren't they the same thing? And if they aren't have we been lied to all of our lives?" Okay, I don't think you guys are that dramatic but I take skin seriously, and so should you. To be fair, skin and skincare ingredients are an ever changing organism that will always grow. The things that we knew to be true a decade ago may not be so credible anymore, but one thing is for certain, skin is skin! The way your skin operates will never change, unless they create some kind of super-android human that is able to have perfect skin from it's inception to it's death. Was that a bit but much? Sorry...

So why are we here today? I want to educate you about the differences between Retinol and Retinoids. For the longest time, the two have been synonymous, but contrary to popular belief, retinol and retinoids have completely different purposes, and I'm here to shed some light on what they are. Let's jump in...

What is Retinol?

Retinol is the purest form of vitamin A. Your skin uses it when repairing and regenerating. Dermatologists usually recommend it for anti-aging because of it's clinically proven power to renew the skin. Common benefits include dramatic reduction in the appearance of fine lines and deep set wrinkles, improvement in skin texture, tone, and added radiance. It is also commonly assumed that retinol exfoliates skin. How it works is it promotes cellular turnover to bring new and healthy cells to skin's surface.

One of my favorite retinol products are the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum. It's made with a patented Tri-Active Retinol complex, which delivers 3 very stable forms of retinol to the skin which reduces the chance of irritation, keeps working hours after it's absorbed into skin, and starts working immediately to plump skin to reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles in just 2 weeks.

What are Retinoids?

Retinoids are a class of compounds derived from vitamin A. Dermatologists usually prescribe retinoids like tretinoin to treat different types of acne. Unlike retinol, which can be found over the counter (OTC), retinoids are typically prescribed by a dermatologists because the U.S recognizes them as acne drugs. Common benefits include exfoliation, and improved cell turnover, which is the process of skin renewing itself.

Because I've never suffered with acne of any kind, I've never had to use any retinoids to ease the look of acne, but in my career, I've been able to recommend my skin clients to the best dermatologists in the state (Louisiana). After seeing a doctor, I've told they were prescribed products like Differin or Tretinoin, which work in the skin on a deeper, molecular level. Retinoids often have side effects, as most products do, but they're a little more severe. I'd recommend researching both a great dermatologist and different types of retinoid medications beforehand, that way, you can ask the proper questions when it's time.

I hope this has been helpful. I know skin and skin care are one of things that is tricky and varies by person, but don't worry babe. I got you! In 2020, we're focusing, flourishing, and not letting anybody's dusty ass son's stress us out, (thus making us need retinol and retinoids in the first place). Drop your questions in the comments below, if you have any, or just say hey girl! Until next time.


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Phoenix Beauty 101 started as my name in my faux business plan when I was in cosmetology school. I needed a name to finish my project to graduate. It stuck! Fast forward and its been my social media persona since 2011...

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