Retinol is a substance structurally related to retinoids (see our post on retinoids). Unlike most retinoids, retinol is widely available in a large number of over the counter products and can be helpful in preventing breakouts in those with acne-prone skin.
Like retinoids, retinol causes skin cells to divide and shed reducing blockage of hair follicle openings (pores). Retinol is also thought to have numerous other benefits for the skin including improving pigmentary abnormalities and can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinol is milder than prescription-strength retinoids and can be incorporated into your daily skincare regimen. It is generally well tolerated but can cause skin irritation and dryness. If you suffer from this try a milder retinol preparation such as SkinCeuticals 0.3% retinol. Retinol can also make you more sensitive to the sunlight so it is important that you use a sun block.