Although they sound quite similar, retinol (vitamin A alcohol) and retinoic Acid (vitamin A acid) have two opposite roles in skin care products.
Retinol tends to increase skin oil and has only very modest anti-wrinkle characteristics.
Retinoic acid reduces skin oil and has proven wrinkle reduction capability.
While retinol can cause breakouts in acne-prone skin , retinoic acid is a strong exfoliant that can cause dryness, redness, scaling, itching, and burning. Retinol has a long history in skin care products, as a moisturizer. Some formulas that are advertised to contain it may only have a trace amount that is biologically ineffective.