Everything You Need To Know About Retinal
You know retinol—the vitamin A derivative and antiaging wonder. The skin care ingredient that countless beauty editors, dermatologists, and know-it-all (er, we mean, well-informed) friends have been touting for years. It’s also been known to clear up persistent acne, brighten and smooth skin tone and texture, and boost collagen production. Needless to say, it's easy to see why it has such an enthusiastic fan base. Though it’s often lauded as the preeminent skincare ingredient for turning back the clock on aging, there is another vitamin A powerhouse on the market that has proven to have even more muscle: Enter, retinaldehyde, aka retinal.
Retinal is the closest thing you can get to prescription-strength vitamin A, which in its mildest form is tretinoin. Retinal can be more effective than retinol, but with the extra punch of power comes increased likelihood of skin sensitivity. Therefore, it’s a logical next step for those who are already using retinol as part of their skin care routine, but aren’t quite seeing the results they’re looking for. It’s best to already know that your skin tolerates retinol before venturing into stronger territory with big sis retinal.
One of the primary differences between retinal vs. retinol, is the amount of time it takes for each to make an impact. When retinol is absorbed into the skin, it has to go through two processes in order to convert into active retinoic acid: retinol to retinal, then retinal to retinoic acid. Retinal, on the other hand, just needs one conversion before hitting the big time.
Because retinol takes a bit longer to become useful to the skin in its retinoic acid form, it also takes more time to see results. Retinal's increased speed in effectiveness can mean faster results, but it can also go hand-in-hand with increased likelihood of a skin reaction—namely redness and irritation.
To decrease skin sensitivity, your dermatologist may suggest easing into use by applying every other day until skin has shown a tolerance. We've listed a few retinal products below that could be worth looking into. As with any topical treatment for skin care concerns, your dermatologist can provide a wealth of information specific to your individual skin needs, including what vitamin A product is best for you.
Retinal Products To Try:
Allies of Skin 1A™ Retinal + Peptides Overnight Mask, $109; dermstore.com
Avène RetrinAL ADVANCED Wrinkle Corrector, $56; dermstore.com
Obagi RETIVANCE® Skin Rejuvenating Complex, $127; dermstore.com
WATCH: This Is the Antiaging Cleanser Jackie Kennedy Used for Her Gorgeous Skin
What's your go-to skin care ingredient? You know, the one you immediately look for in ingredient lists. Are you an avid fan of bakuchiol, retinol, or hyaluronic acid? Share with us.