Over-the-counter vs. prescription strength: which retinoid is right for you?

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Over-the-counter vs. prescription strength: which retinoid is right for you?
Over-the-counter vs. prescription strength: which retinoid is right for you?

by Kathleen Morrison, Lead Writer

March 19th, 2019

For skincare veterans and newbies alike, retinoids can be an important cornerstone of anyone’s skincare routine (hear more about retinoid benefits from our medical director here.) Well known brands like Sunday Riley and Drunk Elephant have both recently spotlighted new products containing retinol — a form of vitamin A. Prescription strength acne and wrinkle treatments often contain tretinoin (a stronger and more effective derivative of vitamin A). But what are the differences between over-the-counter retinols, prescription strength retinoids, and Apostrophe’s own Tretinoin Formula? We did the research so you don’t have to.

Over-the-counter retinol

You can pick up at your local drugstore or on the shelves at Sephora. Retinol must go through a to be effective on the skin which means that while you may feel some irritating side effects, they will be much less severe than those of prescription strength retinoids. However, this also means that over-the-counter retinols are far less potent and less effective that their prescription counterparts. In fact, retinol is potent than prescription strength tretinoin. If you need smoothing, plumping, and acne fighting effects that pack a real punch, you should explore…

Prescription strength retinoids

Getting a prescription from a dermatologist is the best way to get the full benefits of retinoids. One of the most common forms of prescription retinoids is often known under the brand name Retin-A. Tretinoin is not available over the counter because Its higher strengths can mean more side effects, but it also means greater benefits like smoother, plumper, and more glowing skin.

Apostrophe’s Tretinoin Formula

We offer our own prescription strength retinoid formulation called Tretinoin Formula (it’s our personal favorite, but we might be biased 😛). Created by our medical director, Dr. Aimee Paik, it combines tretinoin and niacinamide so you get the prescription strength smoothing and plumping benefits of both in a formula that keeps sensitive skin in mind. Tretinoin helps shed dead skin cells and promote collagen production, while decreases hyperpigmentation and inflammation. Give it a try at Apostrophe!

Now that you know the difference between retinols, retinoids, and our own Tretinoin Formula, you can choose the option that best fits your life and your skin!

What’s your favorite retinol or retinoid product? Let us know on Twitter at @hi_apostrophe.

Welcome to the fine print! Just so you know, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. It’s always best to talk to a doctor for that stuff.

Prescription medication should only be used according to doctor's instructions. Do not use Tretinoin Formula if you are allergic to one of its ingredients. Common side effects include redness and peeling. Full list of safety information can be found at: apostr.com/side

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