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Have you tried retinal? The powerful but gentle retinol alternative is taking off


Retinal Skincare Serum
Retinol is respected for its ability to minimise the impacts of aging on skin but Retinal has been found to be more effective, faster acting and even easier to tolerate.

The post-pandemic boom in information around skincare ingredients means we’re all much more aware of what’s in our products.

It’s why you likely know all about popular additions like retinol, niacinamide, ceramides, squalane and more.

But retinal, short for retinaldehyde, is one of the most popular buzzed-about ingredients right now, turning up in a plethora of new releases.

What is retinal?

Retinal is a cousin to retinol, both are retinoids. Retinol is form of Vitamin A long respected by dermatologists for its ability to boost skin cell turnover and spur the production of collagen (important to keeps skin firm and smooth). Retinoids, particularly retinol, have great benefits but can be tricky to use, especially if you have sensitive, reactive, or barrier-damaged skin. They have a reputation for causing flaking, skin irritation and redness.

Here’s where newer retinal really shines though: retinal, also a form of Vitamin A,  is more easily metabolised by your skin so it’s said to work 11 times faster than retinol but with less irritation.

In short: Retinal is more powerful and gives you faster results than retinol without the downsides.

What is retinal used for?

So what can it do for your skin? What doesn’t it do might be a better question! Retinal is used to smooth skin texture, clear breakouts, even out skin tone and soften fine lines and wrinkles.

Sounds good, right? It’s why so many brands are now releasing products designed to transform your skin with retinal. This year alone has seen a handful of high profile releases.

Here’s what to try now:


The Ordinary’s Retinal 0.2% adds to the affordable brand’s stable of Vitamin A’s with this new formulation high strength retinoid that packs a punch and is recommended for experienced users of retinoids.

Kester Black’s Super Retinal Vitamin A Serum has joined the local brand’s skincare lineup, promising to plump, firm and brighten skin and also contains peptides and other plant-derived ingredients. Advanced cosmeceuticals brand Medik8 are industry leaders of retinal, having been one of the first to use encapsulated retinaldehyde and now offer a ‘step up’ range of serums in increasing strenghts.

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 Night Serum is suitable for beginners, although if your skin is very sensitive, start with Crystal Retinal 1.

Allies of Skin Retinal & Peptides Repair Night Cream is a fantastic option that also contains a number of other beneficial ingredients including an antioxidant blend and hyaluronic acid that tackles many different skin challenges.

Designed to target sagging and deep wrinkles, Murad Retinal ReSculpt Overnight Treatment uses an encapsulated form of retinal as well as olive and oat lipids and alpha glucan to support skin’s resilience, boost moisture and restore the skin’s barrier .

One for your eye area, Go-To De-Crease Smoothing Eye Serum, has a lovely gel texture that sinks in well and targets crow’s feet wrinkles in particular, improving skin hydration, firmness, and texture.


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