What is the difference between retinyl palmitate and retinol? Well, they are both similar, yet significantly different.
They are similar in that they both are a form of vitamin A. Retinol (which is retinoic acid) is the acidic formulation. Meanwhile, retinyl is the ester formulation of it. Now we all know what acidic means, but perhaps you need a chemistry class refresher on the other. Well basically, it occurs as a reaction from an alcohol and an acid, minus the water molecules. Esters are extremely similar in structure to salt. Okay, now enough of the boring stuff…
So you probably want to know if they are equally as effective in treating wrinkles and acne vulgaris? Well, all of the prescription strengths use retinol. As far as the over-the-counter versions, you mainly only see retinyl palmitate (coming from palm oil) as a dietary supplement of vitamin A, not for topical purposes. Now I have seen a few topical wrinkle creams that use this ingredient, but they have always been cheaper products and brands I’ve never heard of. In fact, their labels even looked kind of homemade’ish to me!
Now this doesn’t mean that retinyl isn’t beneficial for skin care purposes, but it does mean that as of today, the pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies have chosen to use retinol A instead for their products. Did you know that one formulation in particular (Renova skin cream) is the only face cream that has been greenlit by the FDA for treating the skin affects of the photoaging process? However if you’re not out to stop wrinkles, this is also a well known way to treat moderate to severe acne. The brand of Retin A products is the most well known but there are also retin A generic formulations available now, too.