Is Retin A Different From a Peel ? By Deb Chase

Question on PeelsQuestion:  I can buy a peel  at my local CVS  drug store but I need a prescription  from a doctor to get Retin A.  They seem to promise the same  results.  How are they diffeent?

Answer:  What an interesting question and a bit  more complicated than it seems.  In general principles, both  Retin A and peels exfoliate the top layer of dead dry skin cells.  This stimulates cell renewal and promotes fresher and smoother skin. The natural life cycle of the skin is designed to shed  this layer of surface  skin.  But factors such as acne, sun damage and aging can inhibit this process.  The result  will be dull rough skin that is troubled with  breakouts, wrinkles and  discoloration.

Exfoliation with peels or Retin A stimulate the growth of healthy collagen, lighten or remove brown patches and help the skin hold onto  moisture. On the surface exfoliation smooths the skin, shrinks pores, and  reduces both  fine lines  and acne scars. Good stuff.

A Peel For Every Skin

There are more than  half a dozen basic types of peels including those using lactic  acid, beta- hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and blended peels.   You can buy  mild peels off a pharmacy shelf   while stronger peels are available  at spas and physicians.  Just to make things more complicated 10% Retin A is also used as a peel.  (  By comparison,  nightly  Retin A treatment products have concentrations that  range from .025% – .1%).

Retin A treatment creams act slowly over time  to provide long lasting benefis.  Most of the  superfical peels act immediately to change the surface.  However the impact is usually cosmetic rther than long lasting.  Medium and deep peels have a more dramatic change with significant redness, peeling and a longer haling process.

I’m a big fan of both peels and Retin A.  Keep in mind that you need to stop using Retin A  two days before and three  days after  superficial peels.  Coming up will be a No-Nonsense Guide to the six different types of  peels that will explain  their benefits and costs and how to choose the best one for your own skin needs.


One thought on “Is Retin A Different From a Peel ? By Deb Chase

  1. Great post Deb, I often wondered myself what’s the difference.
    Now that Retin A has been discontinued in most countries in Europe including the UK, we have to find alternatives 😉

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