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Retinol vs. Retinal

Retinol vs. Retinal

Retinol. The chemical compound that’s great for the collective woe that is scars and hyperpigmentation, because of how it encourages the turnover of skin cells. If you’ve managed to treat/minimize your active acne – congratulations!  However, chances are that you are now left with the evidence. 

In this instance: retinol could be the next step to achieving better skin. The main reason why people tend to reach for retinol is for it’s ability to increase skin cell turnover and its anti-ageing properties – a benefit that is attractive to people of all ages to achieve plumper, brighter and more supple skin. However, there is another compound that is more effective in how quickly it works called Retinaldehyde, also known as Retinal. Although similar in name and in what they do, there is a main difference that causes people to have a preference for one over the other. By the end of this post, you’ll know what they are, what they do and which is best for your skin based on your skincare needs and concerns.

Retinal and Retinol are both Vitamin A derivatives, Vitamin A being the wonder ingredient in anti-ageing products. They fall under the category of retinoids: which are a class of chemical compounds that either are or are related to Vitamin A. Tretinoin which has recently found its rise to fame on TikTok and Instagram routines, is also a retinoid. Retinal, however, is a more advanced version of Retinol at a molecular level, resulting in it working quicker. Our friends at Medik8 put the difference between Retinol and Retinal simply and perfectly; “Their main difference is the speed in which they yield results. Retinal has been clinically proven to work up to 11 times faster than retinol. In addition, the retinal has a much higher exfoliation rate than retinol, which contributes to even-toned, radiant skin.” This is why: although both are Vitamin A derivatives which help with the stimulation of collagen production, people with more mature skin will tend to reach for a Retinal in contrast to people who would reach for a Retinol to do the same thing, just slower. 

“But why would someone with more youthful skin not want quick results too?” you ask; simply put, due to its harshness, a Retinal can cause higher levels of skin sensitivity and inflammation. Your best bet would be to keep using Retinoids safely and consistently and you’ll be sure to notice a difference in your skin after prolonged use. As always, be sure to use SPF as Retinol does increase the skin’s sensitivity, therefore not using proper protection could prove to be counterproductive for your skin. 

The best thing to pair with Retinoids for your skin would be Peptides. Dr Matthew Elias, a board-certified dermatologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida warns us that “Retinoid dermatitis is a common, albeit temporary, side effect of topical retinoids and can lead to dryness, flaking and peeling and itching”. Peptides in this instance are great paired with Retinoids as they further help boost collagen production and allow for gentle nourishment and hydration to be put back into the skin, which can combat and prevent any adverse effects Retinoid use may have.

Here are some of our recommendations for Retinals and Retinols:

Medik8 Crystal Retinal – This powerful overnight treatment claims to transform the complexion and vitality of your skin after use. It is enriched with Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin A and Vitamin E which yields nourished, youthful skin. What is so great about this serum is that it is part of a series of Retinals with progressive strengths, meaning the user is able to gently give their skin the right amount of Vitamin A strength without causing irritation or redness.

Pixi Retinol Tonic – Packed with Jasmine Flower, antioxidants and peptides, this quick-absorbing tonic has been formulated to replenish and rejuvenate the skin giving you a natural, youthful complexion. This tonic is perfect for acne-prone skin or mature skin that is presenting with early signs of ageing.

See Also

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Moisturizer – The self-proclaimed gold standard of skincare, and for good reason. This moisturizer contains both Retinal and Retinol to give the optimum results, yet contains Niacin to heighten the effectiveness whilst maintaining a safe level of sensitivity for use. This moisturizer claims to restore firmness and elasticity, reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and is gentle enough to use every night. Results can be seen from up to 4 weeks of use.

The Ordinary Retinol Serum 0.5 in Squalane – Also coming in a series of progressive strengths, this water-free solution is perfect if you are a beginner in your retinol journey. Great for youthful and mature skin alike, it reduces the look of ageing and photodamage and is great paired with Niacin also for the maximum effect. Always be sure to go for a low solution to work your way up if you aren’t sure how your skin reacts to retinol and as always, use SPF!

Knowing where to start when you want to remedy skincare concerns, especially ones caused by natural factors such as ageing can be daunting, to say the least – not to mention the trial and error one can face when figuring out what product and strengths are right for their individual case. We hope you’ve encountered a solution to your problem, should this be the case. We want you to feel empowered to remedy any issue you have and want to fix. We will always encourage and root for you to show up as your best self, however this looks! 

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