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Is Retinaldehyde More Effective Than Retinol?


Retinaldehyde (a.k.a. retinal) and retinol belong to the same family: Retinoids.

Retinoids are all forms of Vitamin A. The pure form is called Retinoid Acid (the active ingredient in Tretinoin), but it’s super harsh on the skin. That’s why scientists have been working on gentler derivatives, like retinol and retinaldehyde.

To work their magic on wrinkles, they both have to be converted to Retinoid Acid. Retinaldehyde converts in one step. Retinol takes two.

Like this:

Retinyl Palmitate > Retinol > Retinaldehyde > Retinoic acid

As a rule, the closer a form of Vitamin A is to Retinoid Acid, the better and faster it works.

P.S. Retinaldehyde can be converted to Retinol too.

A 1999 French study tested a Retinaldehyde 0.05% cream against an emollient cream without Retinaldehyde. The results were clear. Retinaldehyde make skin thicker and more elastic. 

A study conducted by Dr Boisnic went a step further and researched the effects of a 0.05% Retinaldehyde cream on sun damaged skin. The results were impressive: “in all UVA-exposed and then Retinaldehyde-treated skin specimens, collagen and elastic fibers were restored to the level of nonexposed skin. It has been shown that Retinaldehyde has many of the properties of Tretinoin” in treating photo aging.

Retinaldehyde does this even better than Retinol. According to a 2006 study, 0.05% retinaldehyde is as effective as 0.05% Retinoic Acid (Tretinoin) for the treatment of photoaging. In comparison, retinol is 20 times less potent than Tretinoin and it requires further conversion to Retinoic Acid (in vivo*)”.

Retinaldehyde is clinically proven to work 11 times faster than Retinol


Vitamin A doesn’t just fights wrinkles. It fights acne, too. Retinaldehyde does the job particularly well. Here’s why:

  • It has antibacterial properties: Unlike other forms of Vitamin A, Retinaldehyde can kill P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.

  • It’s gentle: Most anti-acne treatments are pretty harsh on the skin. Retinaldehyde is a lot gentler and can safely be used both alone or with other anti-acne treatments, such as BHA.

Retinaldehyde won’t single-handedly get rid of acne. But, it’s a powerful ally in the fight against it, especially when combined with a deep cleansing gel containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids.


Retinoic Acid, the active form of Vitamin A, is irritating as hell. That’s why it’s available by prescription only.

OTC forms, like Retinaldehyde and Retinol, are gentler. But, as you well know, Retinol can still make your skin flake and peel if you use too much too soon or if your skin is sensitive.

A German study compared the irritation potential of both Retinaldehyde and Retinol and concluded they are both gentler than Retinoic Acid. 

But, they both can still cause some irritation. You may want to start slowly with Retinaldehyde, too.


Here are the best options:

  • Pro Retinal: : A supercharged, ultra performance serum formulated with 0.6% encapsulated retinaldehyde, copper tripeptide, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin B, hyaluronic acid

  • Peptide Eye Serum: Award winning eye serum. A gentle yet powerful serum to rejuvenate the delicate eye area, brighten and protect the skin, formulated with retinaldehyde, copper tripeptide, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), thioctic acid, hyaluronic acid, ubiquinone

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