Best used: PMCaution: Sensitive Skin, Rosacea, UV exposureBest for: Anti-aging, skin pigmentation, acne, enlarged pores
Comments: More powerful than retinol, less irritation cf RetinoidsMode of action:

Chemical exfoliation

Pigment corrector

Collagen builder

Science Score:


What is Retinaldehyde?

Retinaldehyde is a member of the retinoid family, also known as vitamin A. This vitamin is the most powerful skin care active in dermatology. Retinoids work similarly in the skin to boost cell turnover and improve tone, texture & clarity. They also stimulate collagen production, in turn reducing fine lines, wrinkles & enlarged pores.

How is this different from Retinol?

Retinaldehyde is the closest molecule related to super powerful prescription retinoids such as tretinoin, adapalene & tazarotene. In summary, this is the most potent form of vitamin A you can obtain without a prescription.

Which is better- retinyl palmitate, retinol or retinaldehyde?

Retinyl palmitate, retinol, and retinaldehyde—have to undergo a conversion process in order to turn into retinoic acid before your skin can make use of the ingredient. The process goes in just that order, which also correlates with the retinoids’ potency & efficacy. The more steps in the conversion process, the weaker the retinoid is.


The opposite applies to skin irritation, namely the more powerful the retinoid, the higher the skin irritation rate. This is why it is important to understand that not all skin types can tolerate super powerful retinoids. There is no use commencing on a strong retinoid, only to find your skin journey is going backwards.

Davin’s view point on retinaldehyde

This molecule is really a stepping stone from retinyl palmitate to retinol then to retinaldehyde & finally to retinoic acid. Majority of patients will tend to have side effects on prescription retinoids, hence why I start the majority on a good formulation of retinol. The problem with initiating retinoid therapy in patients is the tendency to mix with other skin care actives such as ascorbic acid, skin care acids such as alpha hydroxy acids, BHAs, ferulic acid, etc… Too much,  too soon, often ends up with sensitive & irritated skin with subsequent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation & perioral dermatitis.


For patients with sensitive skin, namely rosacea or dermatitis patients, the use of a milder retinoid is sensible. Remember, the most important aspect of skin care is formulation, not necessarily the concentration.

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