Vitamin C vs. Retinol

Vitamin C vs. Retinol

Retinol Or Vitamin C: Which one is better to use?

When we talk about retinol and vitamin C, both have a huge part to play in the skincare world. It is not a lie when we say these two have collected fans around the world for their magical skin healing powers.

While you are weighing on retinol and Vitamin C, you might have also noticed that these two names are the most talked about in the beauty and skincare industry, right from influencers to even dermatologists. Yes, the hype is real!  

One of the reasons for this is that both these ingredients are very effective on the skin. But we have to be careful in following certain rules while using them.

They both work differently on the skin. Vitamin C brightens the skin tone and focuses on collagen production. On the other hand, retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, speeds up cell turnover thereby promoting anti-aging, and also acts on acne.

Both of these are extremely important to any skin regimen, which is why it is important to know the difference between the two and choose the right one for your skin. Read along to know more.


  • All about retinol
  • Retinol benefits and side effects
  • All about Vitamin C
  • Vitamin C benefits and side effects
  • Retinol Vs Vitamin C. Which is better?

Before we get into the topic of retinol vs Vitamin C, we should first understand what these two are.

Introducing Retinol (Vitamin A compound)

Retinol, also called vitamin A, is a fat-soluble vitamin in the vitamin A family. This is found in food and used as a dietary supplement. 

For the skin, retinol is truly a golden grail, as it has a number of benefits to offer. It increases cell production, controls production of excess sebum and, in turn, acne. It also exfoliates your skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, giving a plumper, clearer finish. 

You should start using retinol only from your mid-twenties or early thirties, as it is a strong ingredient for your skin, and the aging support it provides.

To start with, you can buy over-the-counter Retin-A (tretinoin) with the formula up to 2% and slowly increase according to your skin requirements.  

There are a number of benefits one can get from using retinol.

The Upper Hand of Using Retinol

Age in reverse

One of the main pluses of using retinol on the skin is to prevent signs of aging. Skin naturally ages with time and thus there is reduced cell turnover leading to dull, aged skin. 

Retinol speeds up the process of cell turnover, thereby reducing signs of aging. This means less of wrinkles and  fine lines, and more of young and glowing skin.

Sun shield

Retinol guards us from the sun too. It acts as a sunscreen and protects our skin against the harmful ultraviolet rays (UV) of the sun. Thanks to its increased cell turnover process and prevention of wrinkles and fine lines, it also reduces hyperpigmentation on the skin. It strengthens the skin against external environmental conditions.

PS: Though retinol acts as a sun shield, it can often leave the skin thinner. This requires that you apply sunscreen too.

Fights against acne

If you are suffering from stubborn acne, whiteheads or blackheads, then retinol is the right pick for you. It is the best anti-acne cream that clears your pores by reducing build-up of skin cells. Since it is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, retinol can also reduce redness and skin inflammation. 

There are some side effects to using retinol which have to be kept in mind.

Side Effects of Retinol

When you start using retinol, be prepared to experience skin irritation and stinginess. Some signs include:

  • itching
  • redness
  • dryness

These effects tend to get stronger if you start using stronger retinoids. If the symptoms persist, avoid using the product. Also, do not go out in the sun after you have just applied retinol — and always pair it with a moisturizer.

Now moving on to Vitamin C.

Introducing Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the best ingredients for anti-aging and brightening of the skin. 

Add Vitamin C to your skincare routine in the form of serums, or face masks to get a glowing, even skin. It can be found in citrus fruits too, such as lemon, oranges and veggies like broccoli, which are natural supplements that you can consume.

Advantages of Using Vitamin C

Brightens skin

If you have dull, lackluster skin, Vitamin C is the right pick for you. It can fade pigmentation by inhibiting melanin production. This means you can say goodbye to dullness and dark spots, and hello to bright and even skin.

Hydration effect

Using Vitamin C serums can keep your skin hydrated for hours. It is responsible for decreasing transepidermal water loss, allowing the skin to retain water content better. Continuous use of Vitamin C serum can reduce skin dehydration and make your skin look fresh.

Promotes collagen production

Vitamin C is known for increasing collagen production. Since collagen is a naturally occurring protein, lower levels of it can cause signs of aging. Vitamin C boosts collagen production and speeds up its production process. Vitamin C is the important cofactor of two enzymes responsible for collagen synthesis, namely prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase.

Side effects of Vitamin C

Although it is mild in nature, chances are that if you have a very sensitive skin, you might experience allergic reactions. If that is the case, avoid products such as L- ascorbic acid. Go for products such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, which are better alternatives. To know if you are allergic or not, do a patch test before you start using the product.

So the real question, which is better, Retinol or Vitamin C?

Retinol Vs Vitamin C: The Verdict

Choosing these products mainly depends on your skin type. While Vitamin C brightens skin tone and improves hyperpigmentation, retinol is considered best-in-class for reducing wrinkles and fine lines.

If you are looking for a gentle skin product to improve overall skin health and boost collagen production to make your skin look younger, go for Vitamin C. If you are looking to remove stubborn acne marks, hyperpigmentation, go for retinol — that is, if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding.

To get the best of both worlds, you can try both these products. Apply Vitamin C in the morning and retinol in the night paired up with moisturizer. 

If you are new to the skincare game and want to try out skincare products that are mild yet effective on your skin, UnbottleCo brand is the one! The products here are made in a Skintelligent® way that is free from sulfates and parabens.

Age-Defence Face Cleanser Proven To Fight Fine Lines & Wrinkles With Grapeseed Oil & Alpha Arbutin 

Hi! I’m Tuco Skintelligent® 's Age-Defence Face Cleanser. Here are the botanical super-actives I have inside me.

To treat: 

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To prevent recurrence:

  • Green tea reduces free radicals and detoxes skin
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Skin Brightening Face Cleanser Proven To Even Out With Kakadu Plum & Licorice Root 

Hi! I’m Tuco Skintelligent® 's Skin Brightening Face Cleanser. Here are the botanical super-actives I have inside me.

To treat:

  • Kakadu plum, rich in Vitamin C, boosts skin brightening
  • Licorice Root is proven to reverse hyperpigmentation

To prevent recurrence:

  • Lactic acid, a natural AHA helps skin elasticity and lightens dark spots
  • Arginine PCA is a natural amino acid which captures skin moisture and keeps it hydrated all day long.
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