Retinol is one of the most effective ways to achieve younger, clearer skin. At Cope Cosmetic Dermatology, we offer a variety of retinol strengths and formulations to help you achieve your highest cosmetic goals.

What is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that boosts skin cell turnover. It’s considered one of the most beneficial skincare ingredients and comes in a variety of strengths. The term “retinol” is actually an umbrella term for a type of skin product containing vitamin A. All retinol products must be first converted into retinoic acid with enzymes and proteins to be useable by the skin. This means that the closer a product is to retinoic acid, the more potent it is. Prescription retinol is very close to retinoic acid and requires very little conversion – it’s thus the most effective form.


Retinoids are some of the most effective skincare products available, although they’re most often prescribed by a board-certified dermatologist because of their strength. One of the most common forms is Tretinoin, although Adapalene can be purchased over-the-counter in many products.


Retinaldehyde, or retinal, is slightly less potent than retinoids. It requires less conversion than retinol but can be less effective (and irritating) than retinoids. It’s often available in physician-grade products.


Retinol is available over-the-counter because it requires much longer to have a noticeable effect. Although it can be found in high concentrations through over-the-counter products, it’s generally safe for use without your dermatologist’s oversight.

Retinyl Palmitate

This type of retinol is the gentlest form and is best for people with sensitive skin. Although it may be a weak formulation, it can still achieve great benefits over a longer period.

What Are the Benefits of Retinol?

There are many, many proven benefits of retinol. It’s considered the gold standard in anti-aging regimens and can effectively prevent wrinkle and fine line formation with regular use. It does so by helping boost your skin’s cellular reproduction to more efficiently uncover healthy new skin cells (a process that tends to slow down as early as your 30s).

An additional benefit of retinol is that it’s one of the most effective ways to combat chronic acne. Again, it can help boost cell turnover to reduce congestion and prevent breakouts. It also can help manage oil production for those whose breakouts are caused by oiliness. And finally, it can help prevent scarring from severe breakouts that have already gone down.

Retinol also has a body of study that shows it’s one of the most effective ways to fight a variety of medical skin concerns like psoriasis, melasma, pigmentation, visible pores, and more.

How Should I Use Retinol?

The best way to get started with retinol is by consulting a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist can help you find the appropriate strength for your skin’s needs and help you manage any side effects. Retinol should be used at nighttime since it can make your skin photosensitive. Make sure to wear daily sunscreen when using retinol and inform your skincare specialist before you undergo any skincare treatments.

Use only a small amount and apply it evenly to your entire face and finish with a gentle, unscented moisturizer. It’s normal to experience irritation and breakouts when you first start using retinol, so continue to use it according to your dermatologist’s instructions. Depending on your specific formulation, you may need to begin with using it every other day before using it more regularly.


Dr. Austin Cope is a Utah native as well as a highly educated and well-trained cosmetic dermatologist. At Cope Cosmetic Dermatology, our team is here to help you look and feel your best.


Dr. Cope can help you achieve a new level of confidence with aesthetic experience and a laid-back approach. To learn more, contact us through our online form or give us a call.

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