Simplifying Skincare
4 min readMay 31, 2022

Retinol vs Granactive Retinoid: Which one’s best for you?

Photo by Scandinavian Biolabs on Unsplash

Retinol is one of the oldest forms of retinoid with considerable research backing its benefits. Granactive retinoid on the other hand is a newer member of the family with less research on it so far. Does that mean it is less effective? Let me give you three reasons on why you should choose it over its counterpart:

Note: Granactive retinoid is a brand name, the chemical name is hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR for short).

  1. Granactive retinoid gets to work immediatelyResearch suggests that granactive retinoid is directly recognized by our skin’s retinoic acid receptors/cells (i.e., the skin cells that fight aging, wrinkles, acne etc.) and hence gets to work immediately. Retinol on the other hand has to be converted by our skin cells in order for it to work. The conversion looks like this:

Retinol -> retinaldehyde -> all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) (ATRA is also known as tretinoin, the most potent retinoid that is only available by prescription)

And some ingredients get lost on this conversion chain. This means if you’re using a 0.3% retinol serum your skin is not getting the entire 0.3%.

ConclusionGranactive retinoid gets to work quickly and effectively unlike retinol that needs to be broken down for skin cells to recognize it.

2. Granactive retinoid is more stable and lasts longer — This bit is extremely important. Retinoids are known to be extremely unstable and degrade rapidly in the presence of light and heat. A 2020 study tested the stability of 16 different retinoids (including retinol and granactive retinoid) and this is what they found:

  • Potency of retinol decreases significantly over time and warmer temperatures. After 6 months at 25 degrees C (average room temp) the decline in retinoid contents was between 0–80%. They further noted that at a temp slightly higher than room temp some retinoids only had 20% left after 6 months. Among the studied retinoids, granactive’s stability was the most prominent
  • Granactive retinoid was found to be very stable at 25 degrees C with 95% of the initial content completely intact. Further at a higher temp of 40 degrees C, 97% of the initial content remained. This means that it is extremely stable in heat.

But bear in mind that ALL retinoids are unstable in the presence of light, so remember to keep those dark bottles tightly closed and away from direct light.

  • Excluding granactive retinoid, the average shelf life for the retinoids at room temperature was 2 months; for one-third of the products tested it was less than 1 month. So, the 6–12 months’ shelf-life claims on retinoid bottles don’t really stand true. My recommendation is to finish off your retinol bottle in 2–3 months.

Conclusion: Granactive retinoid is way more stable than retinol, which means more benefits for aging, wrinkles, and acne.

3. Granactive retinoid has the same anti-aging effects as retinol but with less irritation — A 2018 study on the anti-aging effects of granactive retinoid concluded that:

  • Granactive retinoid significantly increases collagen levels and this level of increase is on par with ATRA (the most potent retinoid). FYI, collagen is the protein required to keep skin firm and healthy and with age our natural collagen levels start to decline. Granactive retinoid can help rev up collagen production helping the skin fight off fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Unlike retinol, granactive retinoid doesn’t kill off healthy skin cells. So how does this happen? Retinol turns down sebum (i.e. skin’s natural oil) production which is how it helps us get rid of acne. But sometimes it can go too far and kill these healthy and juicy sebum making cells, thus aging the skin.

Granactive retinoid is also less irritating so you don’t experience the redness or discomfort associated with using retinoids. Another reason for choosing it over retinol.

Conclusion: Granactive retinoid is comparable to retinol when it comes to anti-aging; what gives it an edge over retinol is that it is not as irritating. So if you have sensitive skin, granactive is the way to go.

Product picks: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in squalane or The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

The bottom line

Granactive retinoid may have less research than retinol yet but it’s one heck of a powerful retinoid. It’s way more stable, non-irritating, has a longer shelf-life and can withstand hotter temperatures, and has comparable results to retinol. Definitely worth a try!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase via my link!

Simplifying Skincare

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