Retinol is actually the miracle cure for wrinkles? This claim is often made in an advertisement for various dermocosmetics. However, the answer is: No . The miracle cure for wrinkles is clearly a stable sunscreen with a good UVA protection.

But retinoids, especially vitamin A acid (retinoic acid, INCI: retinoic acid ), are actually able to improve the complexion.The improvement of the skin condition by retinoids refers not only to fine lines and wrinkles , but also to the  acneand skin disorder . The positive effect of  retinoic acid  on the skin was also best researched and confirmed several times.

Because retinoic acid but is only available on prescription and has side effects, vitamin A derivatives are much more common. Two-counter derivatives of vitamin A are also considered effective against wrinkles and acne:  retinol and retinal (-retinaldehyde, INCI: retinaldehyde) . Miracle cure for wrinkles and acne they are not true. After prolonged use, however, retinol and retinal can reduce the depth of wrinkles and prevent pimples.

Under what conditions retinoids are effective, we have already reported in detail in this blog post   About retinoids: retinoic acid, retinol and retinal .


  • As retinoids we refer to both the purest form of Vitamin A – retinoic acid (including tretinoin, tazarotene, and Adapalene Differin) and derivatives of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin A derivatives include  retinal (retinaldehyde), Retinol , Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and  Retinyl Retinoate .
  • Vitamin A acid (retinoic acid)  is probably to date the most studied  anti-aging  ingredient. There are many more studies on the effects of retinoic acid and other vitamins A derivatives. However, retinoic acid preparations are prescription and their use is associated with skin irritation ( flaking, redness,  dryness, burning, and increased photosensitivity).
  • However, two other retinoids seem to exert an effect similar to retinoic acid:  retinol  and  retinal.
  • Given that  -retinaldehyde  (including retinal  called) is only converted into a conversion step in the skin of retinoic acid, it is currently (for many surprisingly) as  effective  as retinol considered. The desired concentration is from 0.05% to 0.1%.
  • Retinal is mild for our skin than retinol and has antibacterial properties. So retinal can also be used well for blemished skin.
  • Retinyl palmitate  and retinyl acetate  While occur in very many cosmetic products due to lower irritation potential. But their effectiveness is neglecting low after today’s knowledge.
  • Behind  Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate and  Retinyl retinoate still stands again no  convincing research location. The study results on these vitamin A derivatives must be awaited.


Would retinoids – retinoic acid, retinol and retinal – miracle cure for wrinkles and acne, one would almost expect them removing these skin problems. It is not so. but a visible improvement of skin appearance is possible.

 The higher the concentration of retinoids in creams and serums, the sooner can a skin improvement after a prolonged, regular use expected.

However, high-dose retinoids can the skin too much irritating . Therefore, a slow “acclimatization” of these active ingredients and a very cautious increase in their concentration is extremely important!


Of retinoids, the following can be expected:

  • Refining  the  skin structure  and  skin surface  (acne scars) -> by stimulating cell renewal in the epidermis
  • Reduction  of  dark spots  and hyperpigmentation -> by stimulating cell renewal in the epidermis
  • Reduction  of  fine lines (creases) . Here act retinoids in three ways:
    • Retinoids stimulate  the  production of collagen -> by increasing the transformation of growth hormones and procollagen
    • Retinoids prevent  the  degradation of collagen -> the fact that the formation of metalloproteinases prevents involved in the degradation of collagen fibers,
    • Retinoids increase  the  capacity  of the  epidermis  to  moisture retention  -> by stimulating GAG synthesis
  • Positive results in  acne therapy  (at  -retinaldehyde  was also an  antibacterial effect  found)


  • An  insensitive  skin should with a daily use of products using  0.05% retinal or 0.03% retinol  have no problem. But we might infer not. That is best done with a 2x / week application and increasing it gradually to daily.
  • It was only  after a few weeks , with a tough skin after a month, I would to a  higher  change dose. Note: 1% retinol can be a challenge even for very robust skin! 
  • That evening, at which products with retinol & Co were applied, it should be to  dispense AHA / BHA products . This is a general rule. I tolerate AHA and retinol during the same evening routine problems. However, a high concentration of retinol in combination with AHAs / BHA could the skin be too demanding.
  • After the product was applied with retinoids, should be about to wait 10-20 minutes . Only then, if necessary, additional care products applied (facial serum, moisturizer, occlusion, etc.).
  • The first order of a product with retinoids  applied MUST daytime sun protection  are! A   photosensitive , against sun (UVA!) Unprotected skin does not get better with time, but look worse (new wrinkles, dark spots, etc.). So sun protection in summer  and in winter ( you’ll find out why ) !
  • Pregnant  and  lactating  women should  not under any circumstances  use products with retinoids! When fertility should it have already phased likewise as soon as possible. I know that cosmetics manufacturers sometimes claim otherwise, but wants to risk certainly not!
  • Vitamin A acid and derivatives are very  light and sensitive to air . Buys your care products containing retinoids in a  pot , the effect is equal to  zero .
  • Products should not be administered with retinoids, are  positive changes might undo  made. This was confirmed by studies. The use of retinoids is thus a long time – if not a lifetime commitment.
  • When using retinoids should be in patience practice. It was not until about  six months visible skin improvements can be observed!


So is a cream with retinoic acid, retinol or other vitamin A derivatives seen as a miracle cure for wrinkles or acne? No. If the thought, the disappointment sets in quickly. But retinoids are next to sunscreen the most important ingredients in any care routine! Importantly,

  • that one approaches scans slowly and sensibly to the active substances
  • and relies on a long and regular use.

Deep wrinkles are visibly reduced by no cream. Since the best marketed anti-aging cream or anti-wrinkle cream does not help much. But even in this case, “alone” to improve skin tone, reduce dark spots and a clear, fresh complexion a patient using retinoids make up! And above all, when it comes to anti-aging, the use retinoids is to the skin primarily on prevention oriented! A correctly adjusted concentration of retinoic acid (prescription) or a good face cream with retinol or retinal are you well against premature skin aging equipped!

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