Retinaldehyde

Best

Antioxidant

Retinaldehyde at a glance

  • Powerful retinol derivative (also known as retinal) that is a direct precursor to retinoic acid
  • Well documented for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as mitigating other signs of aging
  • Helps improve the look of blemish-prone skin
  • Requires one less conversion step in skin compared to pure retinol to become its active form
  • Tolerated equally well or in some cases even better compared to pure retinol

Retinaldehyde description

Retinaldehyde (also referred to as retinal) is a form of retinol that is a direct precursor to retinoic acid, which is what retinol breaks down once its absorbed by skin. This vitamin A derivative is well-documented with decades of research backing its skin care benefits, including the ability to visibly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, as well as mitigating other signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation. Studies show retinaldehyde can also help improve the appearance of blemish-prone skin by helping to offset underlying triggers. Those with excessively oily skin may also find retinaldehyde helps balance their sebum excretion on skin’s surface. This combination of benefits provides a unique advantage for retinal to tackle multiple stubborn skin concerns at once. While it was long ago theorized that retinaldehyde may be more likely to sensitize skin than pure retinol, newer research has shown it is tolerated equally well or in some cases even better, as it requires one less conversion step in skin to become its active form. Formulary innovations, including encapsulation of the ingredient, can further enhance skin’s tolerance of retinal, while also improving stability and performance. Similar to retinol, retinaldehyde does not need to be used in large concentrations to be effective. Concentrations as low as 0.05% have been proven to be effective for improving skin texture and in 0.1% concentration results for skin tone improvement have been documented, among other benefits. While retinaldehyde is considered a safe skin care ingredient overall, it should not be used during pregnancy due to its relation to prescription retinoids (always consult your physician).

Retinaldehyde references

  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, November 2021, pages 3,586-3,592
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2021, pages 2,874-2,879
  • Cells, December 2020, pages 1-14
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, January 2018, pages 471-475
  • Global Dermatology, January 2016, pages 232-236
  • Dermatology, September 2013, pages 231–237
  • Journal Der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft, December 2008, pages 1,023-1,031
  • Dermatology, 1999, pages 57-60
  • Dermatology, 1999, pages 29-31

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings

Best

Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.

Good

Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.

Average

Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.

Bad

There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.

Worst

May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.

unknown

We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.