What is retinaldehyde? Everything you need to know about the ‘new retinol’

Calling all skincare enthusiasts, there’s a new beauty buzzword whizzing around and no, it’s not retinol. In fact, retinol has officially become a thing of the past because it’s cooler, more effective big sister has arrived – say hello to, retinaldehyde (or retinal for short).

retinaldehyde
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Retinol and retinal are both convertible forms of Vitamin A, and while retinol has been a huge hit in the beauty industry due to its powerful rep as an anti-aging ingredient in moisturisers, retinal is now said to do the same, only better. According to experts at Medik8, the ingredient works 11 times faster than retinol. It also boasts powerful anti-bacterial properties, making it particularly useful for those with blemish and acne prone skin who also want to protect their skin from premature ageing. But what exactly makes it so much better than our beloved retinol?

Dan Isaac, Medik8’s formulation and development director, says: ‘Both retinal and retinol speed up cellular regeneration and collagen production to plump the skin, whilst reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, the main difference is the speed in which they yield results. Retinal has been clinically-proven to work up to 11 times faster than retinol.’

He continues: ‘Retinoic acid is the active form of vitamin A, the form that is actually utilised by the skin. This is why all variations of vitamin A, including retinal, must be converted to retinoic acid before they can take effect. Retinol must be converted to retinal and then to retinoic acid, whereas retinal only requires one conversion to retinoic acid. Crucially, this last step is extremely rapid in comparison to the previous conversations, which is why retinal is able to provide such rapid results.’

As Isaac explains, retinol is first converted into retinaldehyde which is then converted into retinoid acid, an active form of Vitamin A. This is then used in creams to help reduce lines and wrinkles and  has long been one of the only ingredient clinically proven to do so. However it does have its downsides. People who use retinol have historically faced the same negative side effects from the ingredient: it tends to cause irritation such as redness and dryness on the skin in the first few weeks of use. This is while your skin gets used to the powerful ingredient and why those with sensitive skin are advised to consult a dermatologist before using any retinol or retinal products.

Medik8

Crystal Retinal 30ml, £59, Medik8

If you do want to test the difference between the two for yourself, you’re in luck because Medik8’s have just released their new Crystal Retinal product. Used as a night serum-cream, it promises to firm, plump and resurface skin, visibly minimising fine lines and wrinkles to deliver a healthy, youthful, more even-toned complexion. Oh, and results can be expected from after around four weeks according to the brand, which is much faster than other retinol-based products.