What You Should Know about Retinoids

We’re taking a deep dive into the world of retinoids.

Remedy Team

8-minute read

Searching for a solution to help you combat persistent acne? Retinoids could be the skin agent that you need to banish your breakouts while addressing other skin concerns. More than just a skincare buzzword, this powerhouse of an ingredient lives up to the hype as it has become the saving grace to severe skin concerns such as stubborn acne, rosacea, uneven skin texture, and premature aging. 

With the long list of retinoids, from the fan-favorite retinol to the potent tretinoin, this ingredient has easily made its way into face creams, eye creams, and serums. Although the likes of isotretinoin, retinol, etc. all fall under the retinoid catch-all, each form works in a different way which may raise alarms if not suitable for your skin type. Thus, with so many kinds of retinoids on the market, it can be challenging to navigate which one is right for you. Because we understand how overwhelming skincare terminology could be, we’ve provided a quick run-down of one of skincare’s most loved products. 

The Basics

Before jumping into the world of retinoids, there are a few things to understand about this skincare favorite. In speaking about this ingredient, one is likely to come up across the importance of Vitamin A; no matter the type of retinoid you’re dealing with, each is extracted from this micronutrient. Among other things, Vitamin A is in charge of facilitating the skin’s collagen production by reducing metalloproteinase levels.1 Notably, metalloproteinases are enzymes known to break down collagen found between skin cells, leading to dull and aged skin. Conversely with more Vitamin A absorbed by the skin and fewer metalloproteinases in the body, one can expect a youthful appearance free of fine lines, saggy skin, age spots, and other premature aging scares.2

Apart from being a gold standard ingredient for anti-aging products, retinoids have been prescribed to treat the worst acne concerns, and for good reason. As a derivative of Vitamin A,  retinoids work quickly getting rid of old skin cells that are congested with dirt and oil. Simultaneously, in the cell turnover process, Vitamin A spurs faster cell renewal providing improved skin texture and managed breakouts. 

Meet the Retinoids


Earning its reputation as a holy grail skincare item, retinol has become one of the most common forms of retinoid available in today’s market. Though it still has the ability to cause significant improvement to the skin, retinol can be taught as the younger, less potent sibling in the retinoids family. This type of retinoid has been touted as a more gentle derivative of Vitamin A as it needs to be converted to retinoic acid in order for the skin to absorb such.3 Because retinol is less abrasive to the skin, this over-the-counter option may take longer to produce drastic results.


In a nutshell, Isotretinoin is a powerful retinoid that is used to treat cysts and nodules caused by severe acne inflammation.4 Those with cystic acne may be familiar with the highly acclaimed forms of this retinoid such as Accutane, Absorbica, Clavaris, etc. Due to its potency, Isotretinoin-based treatments require prescription and are to be taken under medical supervision.5


Unlike other retinoids, tretinoin is pure retinoic acid–meaning it does not undergo the conversion process before coming in contact with your skin. Known for its strength,  skin experts have found it to be 20 times more potent than retinol.6 Commonly known as Retin-A or Renovac, tretinoin has been used to effectively reverse the effects of both acne and photoaging concerns.7 It has also been lauded for its ability to treat uneven skin texture. When beginning treatments with tretinoin, one may experience a period of skin irritation and redness due to the ingredient’s potency.8


Tazarotene is a retinoid only recommended to those with oily and acne-prone skin. It's used to treat grave acne conditions, such as psoriasis, by slowing down inflammation of skin cells.9 Simultaneously, tazarotene-based products may be prescribed to reduce wrinkles and discoloration. and reduce wrinkling. Because this prescription-strength retinoid is even more potent than tretinoin, those with sensitive skin are highly advised to stay away from using products infused with this retinoid.10


As far as strengths go, Adapalene offers a more gentle approach to curing mild acne concerns. Keeping your pores free from sebum and oil, this retinoid speeds up the cell turnover process by helping the skin shed off old skin cells.11 As a topical medication, studies have found that Adapalene can be a worthy option for those looking into layering adapalene-infused products with other acne treatments. This acne-buster does not possess the same anti-aging properties found in other retinoids. While this derivative is generally well-tolerable by most skin types, its potency as a retinoid should not be discounted as first-time users of Adapalene are likely to experience skin purging in the first few weeks of use.12

Sounds too good to be true?

Although the tried-and-true magic of retinoids is a fulfilled dream of the skincare world, these ingredients still possess a few caveats worth being wary about. As more clinical studies begin to unearth, present findings suggest that using retinoids while having a history of skin allergies or skin dryness may do more harm than good.13 Similarly, hyperpigmentation and dark marks have also been connected to misusing retinoids.14 Converse to their purpose, using a retinoid incompatible with your skin type may only aggravate skin irritation and lead to a worsening of acne. 

Don’t get us wrong, retinoids aren’t entirely a false dawn–in fact, using the right formulation can ease the side effects mentioned above. But because they’re innately a potent ingredient, it’s important to take into account that formulations matter–some may work for others, and some may not. Consult with a trusted skin specialist before hopping on board the retinoid revolution. 

Skincare made easy

Whether you’re interested in trying out a retinoid or have been meaning to make a switch, incorporating retinoids into your routine should be done with careful consideration. Drop by our clinic for a one-on-one consultation and we’ll craft a skin care plan unique to you and your skin’s concerns.

Ready for that Remedy glow? Book an appointment with us today! Contact us at +63 917 873 6339 / +63 2 7975 7984, Instagram (, Facebook (@remedyph), or

We did our research! 👇🏼

1 Daley Quinn, “The Difference Between Retinol and Retinoids | Apostrophe,” April 6, 2022,

2 Curology, “Tretinoin’s Acne-Fighting, Anti-Aging Benefits… and Its Side Effects - Curology,” accessed June 25, 2022,

3 Apostrophe Team, “Azelaic Acid vs. Retinoids: What’s the Difference? | Apostrophe | Apostrophe,” April 6, 2022,

4 “Isotretinoin: Overview,” American Academy of Dermatology, December 15, 2021,

5  Apostrophe Team, “Azelaic Acid vs. Retinoids.”

6 Siddharth Mukherjee et al., “Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging: An Overview of Clinical Efficacy and Safety,” Clinical Interventions in Aging 1, no. 4 (December 2006): 327–48.

7 Apostrophe Team, “Azelaic Acid vs. Retinoids.”

8 Apostrophe Team, “Azelaic Acid vs. Retinoids.”

9 “Tazarotene Topical: MedlinePlus Drug Information,” accessed June 25, 2022,

10 Apostrophe Team, “Azelaic Acid vs. Retinoids.”

11 “The Ultimate Guide to Using Adapalene to Treat Acne,” Curology, accessed June 27, 2022,

12 “The Ultimate Guide to Using Adapalene to Treat Acne.”

13 Mukherjee et al., “Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging.”

14 Mukherjee et al., “Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging.”