Retinol, or Retinol A, sounds like a chemical, but it's really just a clinical name for vitamin A. It's an anti-inflammatory agent, making it suitable to treat freckles, which are tiny inflammations of skin cells.
Here's how it works: Skin care products, cosmetics and topical creams contain Retinol at a level hovering near 0.5 percent. That Retinol is absorbed into the skin, where the vitamin increases the rate of skin regeneration. In other words, it drives the body to shed the top layer of skin, which is where freckles live, revealing deeper levels of skin -- notably the ones that are freckle free.
Topical agents with Retinol have to be applied consistently and regularly for full freckle-diminishing power, and one side effect is that it may lighten the skin around the freckles in addition to the freckles themselves.