Renova vs Retin-A Micro vs Retin-A

Categories: Acne, Anti-aging
Leave A Comment: Comments(19)

renova retin-aYou’ve probably heard of Renova, Retin-A Micro and Retin-A, and know they are good for treating acne and wrinkles, but which one is best? All three prescription-only products share the same main ingredient – topical tretinoin, a form of Vitamin A. Generally, Renova and Retin-A Cream are used to treat fine wrinkles, discolored skin, and rough facial skin, while Retin-A Gel and Retin-A Micro are used to treat acne. You can also get over the counter retinol products that work the same way as tretinoins, but they just aren’t as powerful. Tretinoins are thought to be the best anti-aging treatment for wrinkles, and they can work well for acne as well.

Retin-A Gel
Retin-A has been around the longest, and I remember using it in high school for acne. I believe I got the gel version, and after about a week my face was so red and on fire that I couldn’t bring myself to use it anymore, so I suffered through high school with pimples instead. Even though I followed the instructions and started out slowly, and I had oily skin at the time and lived in a humid climate, it was still too much for my skin. If your skin can tolerate it, the advantage of Retin-A Gel is that it comes in a generic version, which can save a lot of money.

Retin-A Micro
This gel product is the newer form of Retin-A, and it’s also used to treat acne. It has a special microsponge technology, which release the tretinoin slowly over time, so this helps minimize skin irritation. I tried Retin-A Micro maybe 5-7 years ago when I got acne once again in my late 20s. Despite the new microsphere technology, I still couldn’t handle Retin-A Micro and once again found myself with red, flaky, painful skin, so once again I gave up. A lot of people have great success with Retin-A Micro, and it’s best for oily skin, so it’s definitely worth trying if you have oily skin and acne. This would also be a great product to try if you have oily skin and want to combat fine wrinkles, facial roughness, or uneven pigmentation. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Retin-A Micro comes in a generic, but if you have good health insurance, that shouldn’t matter.

Retin-A Cream
I tried Retin-A Cream last year to see how it would work for my fine wrinkles, slight hyperpigmentation and enlarged nose pores. I made the mistake of not checking the ingredients of Retin-A Cream, and I totally broke out after a few days, and every day after using it. It turns out isopropyl myristate is one of the first few ingredients in it, which is a major pore clogger. The cream is much more hydrating than the gel version, but I had to give up on this product after a week due to the acne it caused. This would be a great cream to use if you aren’t prone to acne because it comes in a generic, so it’s cheaper than the name brand.

Finally I decided to try Renova, which does not contain any pore cloggers, plus like Retin-A Cream, it’s good for normal to dry skin, and it’s meant to treat wrinkles, and smooth out the texture and tone of your skin. The first time around I thought I was being smart by getting a generic version, which was still expensive, but the generic was made by a compounding pharmacy, and they didn’t use the exact same ingredients as Renova. The cream also expired after two months, but I probably would have had a lot left over since I only intended to use the product every other night. The generic Renova also made me break out like crazy! Ugh. Not all compounding pharmacies use the same ingredients, but I wouldn’t risk it, and you aren’t really saving much money by having to throw out a half-used container every two months.

Finally I bit the bullet and paid the big money for the brand-name .05% Renova (it’s like $170 but should last me a year since I don’t use it every day). Success! Most insurance companies don’t cover Renova because it’s indicated for wrinkles, so if you have acne and your skin can handle it, Retin-A Micro will help with wrinkles and acne, and your insurance might cover it. So I’ve been using Renova for at least six months now, and it doesn’t cause any breakouts! Yay. It still took a lot for my skin to get used to it, and my skin was peeling for at least a month when I first started using it every other night. I didn’t get any redness or pain, though. In other parts of the world – Asia, Mexico, and Europe, for example, Renova is call Retacnyl, which is exactly the same thing, so if you don’t live in the US, you can probably save yourself a ton of money by getting Retacnyl.

I haven’t seen too much change in my skin since I’ve been using Renova, but that’s probably because I’ve been using .1% Differin for the last several years, which has probably already improved my fine lines.

Differin is another prescription acne treatment, and it’s generally more tolerated than Retin-A Gel or Retin-A Micro. It contains adapalene, instead of tretinoin, which is a different type of retinoid. It doesn’t come in a generic. I’ve had good success with Differin helping my acne, in conjunction with other acne products, and I haven’t had any of the peeling, stinging, or redness that I had with Retin-A Gel. Differin comes in an acne-safe cream or gel, so if you have dry skin, try the cream first, and the gel is better for oily skin. However, I use the gel on my currently normal to dry skin, and my skin can tolerate it well. For acne, some people do better on Differin, and some do better on Retin-A Micro. The reason I wanted to try Renova is because I wanted to see if it works better on my wrinkles than Differin. I have yet to find any studies that say how well Differin works on wrinkles, and if it does reduce them, I wanted to see if Renova was even better. From what I’ve concluded, most doctors believe Differin does work on wrinkles, but that a tretinoin like Renova may work better.

Renova, Retin-A, Retin-A Micro and Differin all come in different strengths, so talk to your doctor about what strength is right for you. Bottom line: Do Not use Retin-A Cream or generic Renova if you have acne. If you have acne and dry or sensitive skin, try Differin before trying Retin-A Micro. If your skin can handle it, Retin-A Gel generic is cheapest for acne, and Retin-A Cream generic is cheapest for wrinkles. Do you use one of these products? What do you think?

Don’t miss out…get Savvy Skin posts via email!
Bookmark and Share


19 Responses to “Renova vs Retin-A Micro vs Retin-A”

  1. Hanid Says:

    I have 49 years old and I dont know the best for my age. I was thinking Renova is good. I always used acid I need one more strength.
    But your information is really good. Thank you!!

  2. Claudia Says:

    I have used over-the-counter Retinol products like Afirm and Replenix for a few years but felt like my mid 40’s skin needed something a bit stronger. My dermatologist gave me samples of Renova (the lowest dosage which I believe is .02%). I have been using it since September ’09 and I love it!

  3. Claudia Says:

    Sorry…I wasn’t finished with my comment and somehow it got submitted. Anyway…I love Renova! I was advised by my dermatologist to use it every night – even under my eyes – and yet it did not cause much skin irritation at all. Every other night I would wait close to an hour before applying MD Forte Replenishing Cream over the Renova. I think this helped with the bit of dryness caused by Renova. Today, 6 months later, my skin feels smoother, my pores look smaller and the overall tone of my skin has improved. Granted for my age I have pretty nice skin without many wrinkles however I believe Renova has taken it to another level. I am looking forward to trying the higher dosage as soon as my current prescription runs out.

  4. Lexi Tees Print Says:

    Retina-A Micro works for me and I have a lot of cystic acne around my jaw line. After using this product for 2 months, I began to see changes in my skin for the better! You should give it a try!

  5. kari248 Says:

    This is great, useful information. I am very interested in any anti aging solutions or tips.

    I am a staunch believer that by using the right products and maintaining a consistent cleansing and moisturizing regimen, we may beat the aging process yet.

    I do a little writing myself on this topic, feel free to pay me a visit anytime.

  6. Ronni Mayer Says:

    I am not affiliated with this website, just a customer, but they have a pure retinol product in 2 strenghts available. I am 62 and use the 30% and love it. Many of their products are awesome!

  7. Gigg Says:

    Thank you for all useful information. I have horrible acne for the past few years (i’m in my 20s) and still couldn’t figure out the right products for my skin. Since most of acne product s are extremely expensive that I couldn’t afford to fail the test, I never get to use those expensive brands at all. I’m glad I’ve read this blog, it really helps guiding me what to use next.

  8. nita lyon Says:

    Do you know anythng about NCN pro skin Retinol 1.% and 2.%. thanks lOVE your site great information. Thanks nita

  9. nancy nielsen Says:

    Retin-A cream works very well for wrinkles; i have been using it for 7 years now .It was originally prescribed for my Acne by my dermatologist; who did inform me that my acne would get worse before it got better as Retin-A exfoliates and purges the skin of impurities; so if you can handle this initial effect ; the reward later is way worth it

  10. Stephany Says:

    Hey I’ve been using Retin-A for a few weeks now, and I must say it does cause you to break out, makes you skin sensitive and also causes peeling. Yet these side effects are only temporary. After about 3-4 weeks you will notice your skin clearing up. With most effective acne treatments you will break out before your face clears up, this is because they work from the inside out. Most doctors offer to prescribe antibiotics which will help with the flare ups. I attempted to use tretinoin once before and gave up because of the breakouts, but after seeing my mothers results, shes 42, all her acne cleared up and pigmentation as well as a minor scar, I decided to put up with the breakout. Not to mention that Retin A cream is also great for scars, and if you don’t have insurance the generic tretinoin will only cost about $30.

  11. mandy Says:

    hey ive just got the retin a o.o1% tretinoin gel, can this be use on acne scars fine wrinkles as well sun spots im confused as i know it for acne but it says it cant be use under your eyes can someone offer me advice on this ty x

  12. Sara Says:

    You guys should join the discussion @ http://www.savvyskin.com/how-to-pick-a-retinol-product. We discuss a variety of alternatives. I was trying to get back to that page when I saw this.

  13. Rae Says:

    We don’t have Renova here but we do have Retacnyl. I can’t compare the two but Retacnyl is pretty good.

  14. Sha'ada Says:

    I have been using Retin A Micro for the past 5 years and it works great! I have suffered with acne since a teenager and its the only product I have ever used that completely reduces acne and skin pigmentations caused by acne. It does get worst before getting better so you will have to be patient but the results are worth it.

  15. Silvina Says:


    I was just wondering if you tried RENOVA FORTE or RENOVA CREAM. I would like to start a treatment, and I would like to start with forte, if it’s fine and if it’s fonna have better results. Thanks!

  16. Sylver Says:

    Hi. I was looking up info on retinol and collagen and found info through livestrong.com which mentioned renova. I want to try it eventually, but I’m kind of worried. My whole life, I’ve had really nice skin. Normal with an oily t-zone. I have used proactive and it’s been wonderful. I tend to break out on my chin or forehead mostly and with proactive, I haven’t had a single pimple for years. However, if I choose to use renova, I have to stop using Proactiv because of the benzoyl peroxide. That ingredient doesn’t work with renova apparently. If I get the usual one or two infected pimples I would get before Proactiv, with renova, what can anyone suggest for me? Also, since I have normal to oily skin, is renova better in cream (to moisturize) or gel (for acne prone skin). I’m confused about that since, again, even before Proactiv, I’d rarely flare out. Any help is appreciated thanx.

  17. Damian Says:

    The reason you broke out is not because of the acne clogging ingredients or whatever, it’s because thats just what Tretinoin does. Your skin isnt used to it at first and plus it is causing your skin to very rapidly shed, so you are going to break out the first time. Especially if you dont apply it properly. If you’re using it right after cleaning your skin while your face is wet, YOU WILL break out every time. You need to be patient with retin a.

    Secondly, Isopryl mistirate ( I totally spelled that wrong) is not an acne causing ingredient or a pore clogger. Those studies were done in the 1980’s and were done on rabbits and rats, who have completely different skin than we do.Isopryl Mistiriate is NOT a pore clogging substance on people and is a very good emollient.

  18. justthefactsmaams Says:

    When I see people on the street with acne I just want to tackle them like a born again and tell them about the holy grail. Its a boring cheap laser a decade old by ICN called N-Lite. Acne is just an infection, and this laser blows up the deep bacteria via your body’s porphyrins. Nothing else worked for me, and I tried ev-er-y-thing. Its hard to find, because its a cheap service, just one treatment at 100-200 bucks will wipe out most people’s current acne infection. Then you maintain with the usual benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid regime or just salicylic. I get it about once every three years. I’ve found it at Bodian Derm in Great Neck, NY and American Skin in Colorado Springs. Cured me, cured my sister, and we had issues, yo.

  19. justthefactsmaams Says:

    This is an awesome article, just what I needed to know. Thank you very much. The basic .05% Retin-A from Ortho used overnight is the best thing I’ve found for hydrating and softening hands dried out by harsh soap and aircon. When you think, ‘Oh, too bad, these will have to be replaced by pirate hooks,’ it actually turns things around.

  • Savvy Skin HOME Latest Updates


  • Featured Sites

    Hair Loss Hell
    Amazon BEAUTY



  • Categories

  • Recent Posts