What's the difference between retinol and vitamin a in skin cream, if any?

Retinol more active. Retinol is an animal form of vitamin a. Vitamin a comes in 2 sources: animal and plant. The animal source is called retinoids which include retinol. The plant source is called carotenoids which includes beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin a. Retinol is the more active form of vitamin a that is better absorbed thru the skin.
Strength and potency. There are many derivatives of vitamin a in skin creams, and retinols are such derivatives. Anything purchased over the counter will pale in comparison to a tretinoin, or prescription strength vitamin a (like Retin-A or renova). To obtain this you would have to go through a doctor's office but will get maximum potency out of such a product. Don't use any if pregnant or trying to get pregnant!

Related Questions

Is it safe to use tretinoin cream.01% long-term? Have used for 10 years...Great skin. Also curious whether it counts toward my daily vitamin a?

Yes. But you should take intermittent breaks to avoid excessive pealing. It does not count torwards your daily vitamin a requirement as it it topical not oral. Read more...
Should be fine. I know of no complications from long term use of tretinoin cream. There isn't significant absorption through the skin so it is doubtful that it will decrease you daily intake needs for vitamin a. Read more...
Safety long-term use. It is theoretically safe to use tretinoin long-term without adverse consequences to your skin. There is some anecdotal evidence that there is an increased risk for the occurrence of skin cancer in retinoid and retinol users who live in high sun areas. This is presumably because vitamin a derivatives increase sun sensitivity and use of sunscreen and sun protective measures are wholly inadequate. Read more...

Is it safe to use tretinoin cream.01% long-term? Have used for 10 years...Great skin. Also curious whether it counts toward my daily vitamin a, as I have uncommonly dense bones...+3 at 53 years old?

Yes. Yes it is safe to use retin-a. You are getting your vitamin a from your diet. Don't forget to keep up the sun protection. Read more...
Retin A (tretinoin) There is no time limit for use of tretinoin cream. We believe that it is very healthy for the skin for long term use. It does not offer you any internal vitamin a. Read more...

I'm 28, I would like to know if should start using a retinol serum or cream? Can you recommend a brand or product? I use SPF daily and take vitamins.

Wrong question. Use of retinol is independent of vitamin or sunscreen use. It may be useful for acne or for brown areas. Answer to this question depends on the reason for use. Read more...

Is it safe to apply vitamin a directly on my skin as retinol?

Retinol Benefits. Topical vitamin a (retinol) is converted to retinoic acid in the skin, producing many of the benefits that have been noted with retin a (tretinoin). These include the reduction of fine lines, smoothing of the skin surface, improvement of skin tone, and improvement of acne. If the retinol concentration is too high, dryness and possibly irritation of the skin may be noticed. Read more...

Can someone tell me if retinol vitamin a acetate oil is bad for you skin?

Retinol vitamin a. I commend you for your desire to have good Health. As per http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705543/RETINYL_ACETATE_(VITAMIN_A_ACETATE)/# FDA and German health agency have raised a concern that daily skin application of vitamin A creams may contribute to excessive vitamin A intake for pregnant women and other populations. Banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics. Read more...