Fighting signs of aging can be pretty challenging. With wide variety of different skincare products on the market, you are probably familiar with ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid – being beneficial in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and s few other specific skin concerns.
But what is the difference between these two? And which one is better? Is retinol better than hyaluronic acid in treating wrinkles? These questions can be quite confusing, so I will try to guide you through the answers!
If you have dehydrated skin and you are looking for an ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties, hyaluronic acid wins in this case. On the other hand, retinol is a better choice for mature skin with acne.
However, there are many safety precautions that you should keep in mind, especially with retinol – it’s not suitable for everyone and has annoying side effects (ever heard of retinol purge?).
Keep on reading to find out which of these two anti-aging ingredients is the best choice for your skin type and skin needs.
Key Differences Between Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid
While retinol and hyaluronic acid share some properties, they also differ in some key features. These are as follows!
Dry Skin Vs. Acne-Prone Skin
Since hyaluronic acid is a humectant (meaning it attracts and retains moisture in your skin), it is the perfect ingredient for moisturizers.
On the other hand, retinol is great for acne-prone skin as it reduces acne, as well as sun damage. It also helps you increase skin cell turnover and boost collagen production. Both hyaluronic acid and retinol are great in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinol is also one of the OTC treatments for crepey skin (better than coconut oil, despite common beliefs!).
Time For Visible Results
Because of the skin’s natural process of converting retinol into retinoic acid, it may take you some time to see visible results.
On the other hand, using hyaluronic acid can result in almost immediate visible changes.
Note, however, that the results with hyaluronic acid and retinol are only lasting as long as you use them! You will need ongoing use.
Hyaluronic acid is a gentle, non-irritating ingredient, suitable for all skin types.
On the other hand, retinol is a potent ingredient that may cause some skin irritation and dryness if you use it incorrectly. You will probably want to avoid it if you have sensitive skin.
Day Or Night
You can apply hyaluronic acid anytime, day or night, while retinol is not recommended for daytime use, as it may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
It is recommended to use at night and also to wear sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from sun damage.
Other Skincare Products
Hyaluronic acid can be safely used with (most) other skincare products.
With retinol, you have to be more careful when combining it with other skincare ingredients. And yes, using retinol and hyaluronic acid together is perfectly fine!
Effectiveness In Combating Skin Aging
Hyaluronic acid is less effective in anti-aging skincare, as it does not actively treat fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid only helps you reduce their appearance by plumping the skin.
Retinol, however, can actively treat fine lines and wrinkles, making them less noticeable over time, as it increases cell turnover, with boosting collagen production.
Everything You Need To Know About Retinol
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, one type of retinoid. It is a powerful antioxidant that may help you reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging1.
How does it work? It increases cell turnover and – in that way it stimulates collagen and elastin production in the skin2. Collagen and elastin are essential proteins for smoothing the skin and improving skin elasticity.
It can deeply penetrate the epidermis, making it easier to act on the damaged skin cells.
It can also help reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation, so those of you with uneven skin tone should definitely consider using retinol in your skincare routine!
Due to the fact that retinol unclogs pores, it can prevent acne breakouts and treats acne pretty effectively.
Dermatologists consistently recommend that most patients with acne should be treated with a combination of topical retinoids and antimicrobial therapy3.
It is important to note that retinol is a potent ingredient – and incorrect use can lead to irritated skin (or leave you with dry skin).
For that reason, always start with low concentrations and gradually increase the dose. This minimizes the potential side effects.
You can find retinol in different forms, including serums, creams, and oils. When choosing retinol-containing products, try to look for a well-formulated formula that contains other beneficial ingredients.
When To Use Retinol
You should avoid using retinol during the daytime, as it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and more prone to sun damage. Use retinol at night – and still, always use sunscreen during the day.
Retinol is one of the best ingredients in anti-aging skincare, as retinol really effectively fights wrinkles and fine lines.
- Acne treatment
Retinol unclogs your pores and allow your skin to repair itself, thus reducing inflammation and allowing skin smoothing.
- Acne scar treatment
Thanks to the collagen-boost properties, retinol can help your skin get rid of those boring acne scars, and provide you with generally improved skin texture.
- Fighting hyperpigmentation
Retinol can help you fade dark spots, as using retinol speeds up cell turnover and production of new skin cells.
- Skin smoothing
Retinol can help you get rid of the dead skin cells making your skin texture smooth and glowing.
- Dry skin
One of the most common side effects of using retinol is – it can make your skin dry and flaky.
However, if you use a good moisturizer and gradually introduce retinol into your skincare routine, this shouldn’t be a big deal.
- Irritated skin
In some cases, retinol can cause skin irritation, with itchiness, redness, stinging or burning, and purging. If you experience this, you should stop using retinol and consult a dermatologist.
- Sun sensitivity
Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. Therefore, avoid using it during the day, and always use sunscreen.
Everything You Need To Know About Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally found in our skin cells, which keeps our skin hydrated and plump4. However, the production of hyaluronic acid decreases as we age. This leads to skin dryness, the appearance of wrinkles, and the loss of skin elasticity5.
Applying hyaluronic acid (serum) can help you replenish levels of hyaluronic acid in your skin. This can help reduce the signs of aging and keep your skin looking youthful.
Hyaluronic acid belongs to a group of humectants that bind to the water molecules and attract them to the skin, keeping your skin hydrated and preventing all that water from evaporating, as hyaluronic acid helps retain moisture.
When To Use Hyaluronic Acid
You can use hyaluronic acid – basically anytime. Thanks to its properties and gentle nature, hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular skincare ingredients.
It also goes well with other ingredients, you can can include in your beauty routine both hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, as well as use hyaluronic acid with AHA or BHA, and many others.
Hyaluronic acid is a great moisturizer, especially for acne-prone skin. The hydrating effect of hyaluronic acid is explained earlier – and is just – AMAZING!
- Healthy skin
Besides retaining moisture and preventing the appearance of aging signs, it is also effective in treating dry skin issues, sunburns, and other skin issues, being great for any skin type.
- Wound healing and scar healing
Hyaluronic acid is proven to help wounds heal faster and – it can reduce scarring.
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Hyaluronic acid has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces inflammation in other areas of the body, too!
- Skin barrier strengthening
Hyaluronic acid helps you strengthen the skin barrier, which is important for preventing pathogens and other environmental aggressors from harming your skin.
Hyaluronic acid is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated ingredient. However, it has a few potential side effects. In very rare cases it may cause allergic reactions.
It’s also important to apply hyaluronic acid products on a damp skin. Otherwise it can make more dried, instead of hydrated!
What’s Better: Retinol Or Hyaluronic Acid?
It is difficult to answer this question generally, as these ingredients are both great – similar, but yet very different. And, of course, it depends on what you want to achieve.
If you have dry skin and are looking for something to boost hydration to your skin and lock it in – hyaluronic acid products are the best choice for you.
If your skin is oily or acne-prone, retinol would be a better option.
Combining hyaluronic acid and retinol is strongly encouraged, as these two complement each other.
Hyaluronic acid prepares your skin nicely to retinol. If you use it correctly, retinol-hyaluronic acid mixture can do miracles to your skin.
Which Is Better For Wrinkles: Retinol Or Hyaluronic Acid?
If your main concern is retinol is preventing signs of aging like wrinkles, as it is most effective in reducing signs of aging by increasing skin cell turnover and boosting the production of collagen.
Hyaluronic acid is better in keeping your skin moisturized and making your skin supple. If you have sensitive skin, you may rather opt for hyaluronic acid, or combination: low-dosed retinol-hyaluronic acid.
Which Has Better Anti-Aging Properties: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
Well, hyaluronic acid nicely fills the aging creases in your skin and gives it an instant repair, as it draws water to your skin, which is great for all skin types.
However, retinol directly reduces the appearance of those boring wrinkles and – smooths out your fine lines, by stimulating collagen production, promoting skin cell turnover, and improving skin elasticity – all of which are crucial for skin rejuvenation. The benefits of retinol serum (or other retinol product) will win in this case.
Which Is Better For Puffy Eyes: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is known for its hydrating properties and plumping effects. That can help reduce the appearance of the puffiness under your eyes.
So, hyaluronic acid serum can be a great choice for this issue. Besides, retinol may be too harsh for the around eye area.
Which Is Better For Dark Circles: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
The same goes for dark circles, hyaluronic acid serum improves skin elasticity and can refresh the damp skin of your dark circles.
By enhancing skin elasticity, hyaluronic acid plumps and firms your skin, reducing the visibility of blood vessels, making skin smoother and under-eye area – brighter.
Generally, if you have damp skin, hyaluronic acid products will be your best friends.
Which Is Better For Acne: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
In case of acne, retinol is a better choice. Although both hyaluronic acid and retinol are acne-friendly, retinol wins in this case.
Retinol has the ability to regulate cell turnover and promote exfoliation, and – more importantly helps unclog pores and shed skin cells with acne-causing bacteria. This helps you reduce acne.
On the other hand, hyaluronic acid help you balance the moisture barrier of your skin, preventing it from becoming too dry.
If your skin tries to overcompensate the dryness, it will produce excess oil, potentially leading to new acne. This way, using hyaluronic acid can be helpful in preventing blemishes.
Which Is Better For Hyperpigmentation & Acne Scars: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
Due to its ability to increase the cell turnover, retinol can help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Retinol can accelerate the shedding of pigmented skin cells and reveal even-toned skin.
As for the acne scars, retinoic acid will stimulate collagen production, which will smooth out the skin texture and reduce the visibility of the scars. So, try retinol serum on your hyperpigmentation. But note that hyaluronic acid will improve the skin radiance, too.
Which Is Better For Skin Dryness: Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid works by attracting and retaining water, providing intense hydration, and targeting skin dryness effectively. So, feel free to use it for your dry and dehydrated skin!
Be careful when using retinol for dry skin, as one of its most common side effects is… dry skin! Because retinol works by increasing cell turnover, it can make your skin flaky6, and even lead to skin peeling (although in many cases it’s temporary).
Retinol Vs. Hyaluronic Acid – FAQ
We overviewed these two active ingredients, both with unique benefits. So, if you are looking for the best ingredients for your skin issues and serums based on hyaluronic acid vs. retinol, you probably have many questions. Here are the answers to them!
Can I Use Retinol And Hyaluronic Acid Together?
Absolutely! In fact, you should use it together for the best results as these two complement each other! Hyaluronic acid helps retinol products deeply penetrate into your epidermis.
Which Is Best For Night Retinol Or Hyaluronic Acid?
Both of them are okay for the nighttime use. Note that retinol should always be used in the evening, as it increases your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.
Is Hyaluronic Acid As Strong As Retinol?
No, hyaluronic acid is a gentle ingredient which draws water to your skin.
Should I Use Retinol And Hyluaronic Acid Everyday?
Well… yes. But, make sure to perform a patch test before utilizing retinol in your everyday skincare – and start with low doses. After a while, you can use it every day. As for the hyaluronic acid – you can, and you should use it in your everyday skincare routine.
The purpose of this article is informative and entertaining. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Safety should be your priority.
All pictures in this article with YouAreBeautie logo belong to YouAreBeautie.com and were taken by the owner of this website. All these images are copyright-protected.
Sources of other pictures:
Sources of information: