The main difference between retinyl palmitate and retinol is that retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A; it is an ester formed by the reaction of retinol and palmitic acid. Retinol is the purest form of vitamin A and is thus more potent.
Retinyl palmitate is found naturally in our skin, where it acts as an antioxidant, especially in protecting the skin from UV rays, although it does not replace the need for sunscreen.
Reports that retinyl palmitate is not a safe ingredient are outdated. They are based on a study from almost 20 years ago that has never been reproduced or tested under real conditions, such as how people use sunscreen that contains this ingredient. In addition, to date there is no scientific evidence that retinyl palmitate is a carcinogen in humans.