Retinaldehyde 101: Benefits, Side Effects, How to Add It to Your Routine, and More

Retinoids are natural and synthetic vitamin A derivative. You can have vitamin A deficiency because of UV exposure, oxidative stress, and the natural aging process.

The natural form of retinoids is Retinaldehyde. Retinaldehyde (RAL) is a potent vitamin A derivative. It is available in two forms −

  • Retinal

  • Retinol

There is a minute difference between the terms retinal and retinol, but a vast difference exists in breaking it down and its efficacy.

Retinal (Retinaldehyde) and retinol come from the same group called retinoids form all forms of vitamin A, and the pure form is retinoid acid. Retinoid acid is harsh on your skin. That’s why researchers have come up with gentler and softer versions of retinoid acid: retinol and retinal.

To affect your skin and cast retinoid acid’s magic, both retinal and retinol need to break down into retinoid acid. The only difference is in how many steps they break down. For retinal, it is one, and for retinol, it is two.

Retinolesters → Retinol → Retinaldehyde → Retinoic Acid

The breakdown process follows the same order as shown above. It also implies the potency and efficacy of retinoids. The more steps to break down, the lesser the retinoid effect.

Since Retinaldehyde is one step ahead of retinol reaching the hard stuff (retinoid acid), it is the potent form of retinoid you can get without bothering with the prescription-strength recommendation of a doctor. All retinoids will have a similar effect on your skin but to a varying degree.

Unlock the anti-aging Benefits with Retinoids

The world is crazy about anti-aging therapies, and retinoids are at the forefront and a good pick regardless of your current age. The retinoid family, retinol, and Retinaldehyde are super ingredients that effectively fight whiteheads and blackheads, fine lines, crows feet, wrinkles, and acne. You can put it to best use by teenagers and mature individuals to unleash the anti-aging miracle.

Retinaldehyde Benefits

Retinaldehyde offers a series of anti-aging and skin benefits regardless of your age.

Speeds Dead Skin Cell Replacement

Shedding dead skin cells and replacing them with new cells naturally occurs every 28 days. But as we age, this cycle stretches longer. Retinaldehyde causes the old skin cells in the outermost layer to replace faster with the new cells as they emerge rapidly. It gives your skin more smoothness and even and fuller skin tone.

Boosts the Production of Collagen

Collagen is essential for your skin to maintain skin elasticity. Retinaldehyde acts on the skin surface by speeding up skin cell turnover. Retinoids, including Retinaldehyde, apply on the deeper skin layer to stimulate collagen synthesis and boost collagen production faster to achieve anti-aging benefits. It helps increase skin elasticity and repair connective skin tissues.

Help Clear the Clogged Skin Pores

Retinaldehyde makes the cell turnover process faster and acts as an exfoliant to unclog pores, making them clear and healthy. Because of this property, we often use Retinaldehyde in treating acne. Retinaldehyde helps balance oil production. It helps shrink the pores so they do not get clogged and inflamed.

Retinaldehyde - How to Apply

Apply just a pea-sized amount of Retinaldehyde for the entire face. Apply it every third day and gradually work up to applying it nightly. Doctors will usually recommend the nightly application. However, you can reach that level over a few weeks or months.

Do not rush through the process to make your skin look young faster. If your skin may get red or flaky, go back to alternate night retinaldehyde therapy or try it a few times every week. It may not go right from the outset of the application of Retinaldehyde. You will gradually notice the cumulative effect with the time that your skin benefits from the usage.

Whatever your skin sensitivity, if you apply retinol, you must wear SPF daily. Retinaldehyde applications make your skin more sunlight sensitive, which can cause sunburns quickly.

Side Effects of Retinaldehyde

Regardless of the Retinaldehyde’s prescription strength or getting it over the counter, the retinoid is not devoid of its potentially unpleasant and unsightly side effects, such as redness, peeling, dryness, and flaking.

For your super-sensitive skin, it is essential to take caution when applying a retinaldehyde product for the first time or any retinoid type. Get started cautiously and slowly with a meager amount, and gauge the impact on your skin for over a month. Then work your way up gradually to using it more on your skin after it gets used to it.


The best time for Retinaldehyde is in your mid-twenties or early thirties. Skin care experts recommend adding a topical retinoid to your skincare routine. It is the time when the cell turnover slows down. Retinaldehyde will cover you by boosting the much-needed collagen production you lose with age.

Updated on: 24-Apr-2023


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