In the world of beauty most people seem to be of the opinion that whatever they can get from their doctor is going to be better than what can be found in the skin retail trade. Topical treatment products such as Vitamin A Esters can also leave the consumer baffled with their similar sounding names; Retinol, Tretinoin and Retinoids. What exactly is the difference? In this article on Retinoids vs Non Prescriptive Retinoids we aim to clear up some of the confusion that comes with Vitamin A ingredient-based products.  


The term ‘Retinoid’ is used to describe a group of compounds that are derived from Vitamin A. With regular use, retinoids offer a variety of benefits for the improvement of skin health. Retinoids increase epidermal thickening, reduce atypia and promote new collagen and vascular formation. As the increase of new collagen production slows down with the ageing process, Retinoids provide additional benefits of profound biological effects on keratin synthesis, sebaceous gland activity and proliferation and terminal differentiation of fibroblasts.


Comparing Retinoids

Prescription versions are Tazarotene (Avage®), Tretinoin (Retin A®, Renova®), Adapalene (Differin®).

Non -Prescription versions are Retinol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Vitamin A Esters (Retinyl acetate), Retinyl palmitate, Retinyl propionate all of which are types of retinoids which are vastly different in performance.

ACC Retinol +

DermaFix ACC Retinol + incorporates ‘new science’ with the addition of its key ingredient Cylasphere® Retinol, an agar micro-sphere encapsulating retinol. The encapsulation of retinol allows for a slow release into the skin for improved bioavailability, efficacy and a gentler use. DermaFix ACC Retinol + stimulates the fibroblasts helping to thicken the dermis for firmer and younger-looking skin. 

Clients consulting with their doctor for a Vitamin A product, as opposed to a skin care clinic, will find that they are prescribed Tretinoin, which is stronger than retinol products found in skin care clinics. Tretinoin works well for skin showing signs of ageing as it prevents collagen breakdown. The upside to prescription retinoids is the time it takes for you to see result. Being so much stronger than over the counter retinoids, the client should see the results as early as 6-8 weeks and up to 12 months for vast improvements. This sounds rather impressive, however there are side effects that come with this fast-acting retinoid.  These include peeling of skin, excessive dryness, redness, irritation, a burning sensation in the skin as well as possible swelling. It is for these reasons that consumers often halt their usage of these retinoids in favour of using something else. Many clients will purposefully steer away from using retinoid-based facial products as they associate these ingredients with harsh side effects. It is therefore especially important for a skin care professional to know the differences between all retinoids, both prescriptive and non-prescriptive.


Non – prescription Retinol


As it is not essential for skin care brands supplying over the counter products to disclose the percentage of actives contained within their formulations, the consumer may assume that the percentage of actives to be relatively low. This is not always the case. There will always be a percentage limit on how much a specific active can be added into non-prescriptive formulations, and most cosmeceutical brands will endeavour to meet this limit in order the vast improvement of the skin being the end results.

Vitamin A Propionate


Vitamin A Propionate supplies your skin with a healthy dose of Vitamin A, helping with vitalisation of the skin and improving the appearance of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. This lightweight formula is ideal for all skin types including dry, sensitive and acne. Also promotes firmness, elasticity and a brighter complexion over time.

Scrupulous use of approved SANS 1557: :2013, ISO 24444, ISO 2443 DermaFix DermaShield SPF40 /50 Broad Spectrum HEV light protection sunscreens are imperative when using all forms of Retinoids when exposed to UV radiation. Daily use of sun protection is essential and re-application necessary when in the sun for a prolonged amount of time. When it comes to sunscreens, buyer beware, there are many inexpensive and untested sunscreens on the market sold by the unscrupulous brands, these are often not legal and do not comply with SANS regulations.


DermaFix Cosmeceutical Skin Care understands that consumers are looking for formulations that meet the needs of their skin, and that are easy to use whilst still delivering on results.  When it comes to retinoids, DermaFix has sought out alternative retinoids, providing all the benefits of retinol without the negative keratolytic side effects. These forms of Vitamin A, namely Vitamin A Propionate, as found within the DermaFix MD Prescriptives Vitamin A Propionate and the new key ingredient Cylasphere® Retinol found within the DermaFix ACC Retinol +, work to deliver concentrations of vitamin A in a gentle yet effective manner, allowing for long-term use and offering visible change for a healthier skin. It is recommended to follow a slower integration of any active product into your existing skin care routine, allowing the skin chance to acclimate to these new actives.


With all this in mind, which retinoid is the ideal one for you?  It is important to remember that no matter which way you choose, prescriptive strength retinoid or a non-prescriptive retinoid as described above, the skin always wins.  Prescription strength allows for quicker results, but with more downtime and usually at a higher cost, while non-prescription strength alternatives allow for a gentler approach, but still deliver on results. Whichever route you opt for, always remember that retinoids are to be used at night only.

For more information on the above mentioned DermaFix products, visit or call us directly on 0861 28 23 23.