How to choose the best retinol product



Medical-grade Pure Retinol from Fusion Meso

How To Choose The Best Retinol Product

Retinol benefits

Topical retinol (retinoic acid) has been shown to improve the clinical features of aging by reducing fine wrinkles, enhancing skin smoothness, and diminishing hyperpigmentation [1]. Retinol imparts anti-aging effects on the skin by increasing the epidermal thickness of the skin by stimulating specialized cells known as keratinocytes. Retinol also increases dermal vascularity by stimulating certain growth factors as well as the production and deposition of the dermal extra-cellular matrix (ECM) [2].

In-office Retinol peel procedure

Unlike synthetic retinoids (also termed as retinoid analogues) which are synthesized artificially, natural retinoids occur naturally and are derived from Vitamin A. Synthetic retinoids may have similar effects on the skin like natural retinoids and stimulate retinoid acid receptors (RARs), but they do not stimulate all of them. Retinol is an example of a natural retinoid that stimulates all of the skin RARs, and isotretinoin is an example of a synthetic retinoid that has no ability to bind to the cellular RARs [3]. 

Side effects of Retinol and Tretinoin cream

One of the main differences between retinol over tretinoin is that of their side-effect profiles. Tretinoin is applied topically and is associated with dry skin, irritation and even skin peeling – these side effects are more pronounced in the first few weeks of therapy [4]. Tretinoin also increases one’s photosensitivity and may not be appropriate for individuals who spend time outdoors. Isotretinoin (synthetic retinoid) is ingested orally and is associated with dry lips, crusty skin, nose-bleeding, and a worsening of acne before it becomes better. Retinol has a much better side-effect profile than the synthetic retinoids, although it also causes redness and irritation of the skin – this process is known as retinization [5] and you are advised to slowly and gradually increase the amount of the product used to acclimatize to it. 

Dr Joel Arun
M.B.B.S (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery), 2014
National University of Singapore


In-office Retinol peel procedure


1. Fisher, G.J., et al., Molecular mechanisms of photoaging in human skin in vivo and their prevention by all-trans retinoic acid. Photochem Photobiol, 1999. 69(2): p. 154-7.

2. Shao, Y., et al., Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in vivo. Int J Cosmet Sci, 2017. 39(1): p. 56-65.

3. Layton, A., The use of isotretinoin in acne. Dermato-endocrinology, 2009. 1: p. 162-9.

4. Schmidt, N. and E. Gans, Tretinoin: A Review of Its Anti-inflammatory Properties in the Treatment of Acne. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 2011. 4: p. 22-9.

5. Buchanan, P.J. and R.H. Gilman, Retinoids: Literature Review and Suggested Algorithm for Use Prior to Facial Resurfacing Procedures. J Cutan Aesthet Surg, 2016. 9(3): p. 139-144.

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