Retinol is considered the anti-aging ingredient at all, right? Whether this is true, we will learn in today’s blog post. The first post from the blog series on active substances that actually one antiaging have effect in terms of stimulating the production of collagen, I dedicate namely the ingredient family of  retinoids . These include: retinoic acid, retinol, retinal and Some (more on this below) more. Fortunately, the effectiveness of some was vitamin A derivatives well documented scientifically.

Instead of all the medical database PubMed to search through, I fortunately found on this subject an open access study in 2014. This study has all previous PubMed -Publications searched five of active substances, including vitamin A. What I particularly like about the publication is that it sets strict criteria on the effectiveness of cosmetic active ingredients. On the basis of previously published research literature following questions were asked in the essay:

  1. An active substance the top layer of skin ( stratum corneum ) penetrate ? (It is generally believed that its molecular size must be for this purpose on 1000kDa.)
  2. At what concentration a drug is effective?
  3. Is there adequate studies ( peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled, statistically significant ), which demonstrate the effectiveness of each ingredient?

Let’s look now at the answers! (For the impatient, I offer  Here a much shorter summary to . )


However, we begin with a terminological clarification. During my research I noticed that many (not least cosmetics manufacturer) Vitamin A with  retinol  equate. Thus, care is with vitamin A = treatment with retinol.

It is retinol only a derivative of vitamin A (retinoic acid) . Other derivatives also include -retinaldehyde, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate or retinyl palmitate. All these forms of vitamin A are under the umbrella term RETINOIDS  summarized.

Now let’s look at the individual retinoids.


The strongest, since direct effect on the skin under the retinoids has the  vitamin A acid (= retinoic acid, retinoic acid : tretinoin, tazarotene, adapalene). Retinoic acid acts in the skin stimulating the production of: 

  • Glycosaminoglycans  (which the skin moisture increases ) and
  • Collagen


If so, why does not one of us already long since a cream containing retinoic acid in the bathroom each /?

Well, the disadvantages of using a face cream with retinoic acid are on the skin, ooops obvious:

  • First, call products with vitamin A acid often skin irritation shows how scaling, redness, dryness, burning and increased photosensitivity.  That is why they are also available on prescription.
  • Because products are available by prescription with retinoic acid, it means, secondly, regular courses for dermatologists, what many of us moved to search for alternatives.


  • retinol
  • retinaldehyde
  • Retinoid ester: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate,  retinyl palmitate,  retinyl acetate, etc .

(You can find about a detailed list of vitamin A derivatives in tabular form here.)

Retinyl palmitate  and retinyl A acetates  devoted little space in this post. Their effect on our skin is in fact  too weakto of serious anti-aging  to speak or anti-acne effects. Why are these forms of vitamin A still many care products? Because they have a ge wrestle irritation factor  au fweisen (more detail on this below).

Care products with ” anti-aging” and “acne”  recruit effects, while referring to vitamin A and only  Retinyl palmitate included, are not able to reduce wrinkles get acne visible!


Studies have shown that retinol and -retinaldehyde  (including retinal called INCI: retinaldehyde ) are the best alternatives to retinoic acid. Both are converted to the skin in retinoic acid after application and in the end have the same effect as retinoic acid.

Here sits -retinaldehyde  in the conversion chain (retinol -> -retinaldehyde -> retinoic acid) closer to the retinoic acid and retinol. In other words, retinal, the precursor  of retinoic acid . And – surprise! – latest study show a better effect of -retinaldehyde compared to Retinol ! ( Source to the unte to be seen n conversion chain)

Metabolic conversion of Retinoids

Here’s what I would like to stress once more, as circulating misleading information “on the Internet”: -retinaldehyde (retinal) is now considered  more effective than Retinol proven. Resulting among other things from the fact that it takes only one conversion step in retinoic acid compared to retinol. Since its effect, however, later than was explored by retinol, -retinaldehyde is much less likely to be found in personal care products than other forms of vitamin A.

In this case, retinaldehyde should be in the concentration of at least 0.025% (ideally higher: between 0.05% and 0.1%) occur. (Under the efficacy limit of 0.025% not allowed antiaging effects are expected.)


In a study of 125 volunteers that a cream with retinal in concentration of 0.05% similar results (wrinkle reduction) such as tretinoin has been shown (retinoic acid) 0.05% applied ( source ). (By the way, a different study showed that products containing 1.1% retinol and tretinoin 0.025% similar results led ( source ).

 An interesting conclusion of an article of 2010 reads:

“There is a substantial amount of evidence supporting the efficacy of tretinoin in the treatment of photoaging. The evidence supporting retinoid-based cosmeceuticals, HOWEVER, remains sparse. There are a number of in vitro studies, with a smaller number of in vivo studies. Based on the hierarchical levels of evidence (with well-designed, randomized, controlled trials providing the highest level), retinaldehyde Appears to be the only retinoid-based cosmeceutical to be effective in the treatment of photoaging. A large, randomized, controlled trial assesing retinyl propionate Concluded did it had no significant effect on photoaging. There is evidence from a small, randomized, controlled trial showing did retinol has effects on human skin and supporting its potential as an agent against photoaging.

HOWEVER, large-scale clinical studies would need to be under taken to investigate this further. THEREFORE, we conclude did Containing products retinyl-acetate or retinyl palmitate-are unlikely to have a significant beneficial effect, but retinaldehyde-containing cosmeceuticals have evidentiary support For their benefits in patients with aging skin. Retinol has potential benefit, but more research is needed. “( Source )

My translation  The effectiveness of tretinoin (retinoic acid) in the treatment of photoaging has been demonstrated several times. However, the evidence regarding other retinoids is not equally convincing. In this case seems -retinaldehyde  the most effective cosmeceutical to be used to treat a early aging skin. Retinol has the potential to even, but further research is still going on.

 Yet another study concludes:

“… retinaldehyde , All which is fairly well tolerated, Seems to be the most efficient cosmeceutical retinoid ; it has significant efficiency toward oxidative stress, cutaneous bacterial flora, epidermis renewing, and photoaging . “( source )

My translation  -Retinaldehyde  seems efficient cosmeceutical with retinoids to be. It shows a significant efficiency in terms of combating oxidative stress. It also has a positive effect on the bacterial flora of the skin, renewal of the epidermis and photoaging.

 The advantage of -retinaldehyde is that it can exert a similar effect to retinoic acid and retinol, but is much gentler on our skin!

In this case, retinal can also be applied rosacea be used ((copper Rose) source ).

 Incidentally, I have found two studies, in which a synergistic effect between retinaldehyde  (0.05%) and hyaluronic acid (0.2% -1%, medium size (50’000-400’000 Da = 50-400 kDa) detected was ( here and here ). the combination of the two has resulted in a increased collagen production performed in the dermis than could create the individual ingredients alone!


  • Vitamin A acid (retinoic acid) is to date the most studied anti-aging active substance in terms skin care. There are many more studies on the effects of retinoic acid and other vitamin A derivatives.
  • However, two retinoids exert an effect similar to retinoic acid: retinol and retinal or -retinaldehyde.
  • Given that retinal  is converted only one conversion step in the skin of retinoic acid, it is currently considered more effective than Retinol considered. The effective concentration of retinal is 0.05% to 0.1%.
  • Although Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Acetate due to the relatively low irritation potential found in many cosmetic products with is anti-aging effect after the current knowledge neglecting low.
  • The effect of  Retinyl retinoate and Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate  has not been sufficiently proven. 



Different drugs take a long time differently, to develop the effect on our skin. Large molecular weight hyaluronic acid should bolster up about almost immediately after the application of our skin. However, may provide a more even complexion after using vitamin C and B3 (niacinamide) preparations after about two to three months are expected. When retinoic acid and vitamin A derivatives, it takes even longer until you see the effect. First of all, “something is happening” in the epidermis – the outer skin layer ( You can find more information about the skin structure here ).

Research results show that a reduction in the depth of wrinkles is to be expected after a three-month administration of 0.05% retinoic acid. But it was only after about six months to new collagen forms in the dermis ( source ).

A lower concentration of tretinoin showed similar results after about six to eight months . Therefore, one should be patient and improve our skin condition using retinol and -retinaldehyde expected only in about six months (this also applies to acne). Some studies estimate that even  12 months are necessary to retinoids in the skin can act visible.

This means that if someone “could not find anything” after using up one to two tubes of face cream with retinol or retinal, which is by no means a proof of the uselessness of this cream! Rather, it will be plain and simple reason that you can see visible effect of retinoic acid and vitamin A derivatives only after a month-long use of the products.With skepticism should rather statements (or manufacturer promises) meet, therefore the depth of wrinkles by approximately 12 weeks visibly reduced should be. That will not do our dear wrinkles.

Conclusion: If you introduce a cream containing retinol or -retinaldehyde in a care routine should be the fact first of all, best forgotten . For an improvement of skin appearance comes only in about six to twelve months to light.


Another thing is that retinoids  for life  should be used. At least with retinoic acid positive results after canceling the application be reversed over time ( source ).  In short, creams with retinoids are a long-term if not a lifetime commitment .


Now, we come finally to the positive effect of retinoic acid, retinol and -retinaldehyde.

How do retinoids to the skin? What can be expected after a few weeks and months the application of retinoids?

  • Refinement of the skin structure and  the skin surface (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 (lines and wrinkles) Here act retinoids in three ways :
    • Retinoids stimulate the production of collagen by increasing the transformation of growth hormones and procollagen.
    • Retinoids prevent the collagen degradation characterized that the formation of metalloproteinases is prevented which in turn are involved in the degradation of collagen fibers.
    • Retinoids increase the capacity of the epidermis to  moisture retention  by stimulation of GAG synthesis.
  • Positive results in acne therapy at -retinaldehyde  one was additionally antibacterial activity found.

So there are enough reasons to use products with retinoids.


  • An insensitive skin should with a daily use of products using 0.05% retinal and 0.03% retinol have no problem. But we might infer not. The best three times starting with an application a week and increase it gradually on a daily basis.
  • It was only after a few months , and at a tough skin after a month, I would to a higher dose cream  change. Note: 1% retinol can be a challenge even for a very robust skin! 
  • That evening, at which products with  retinoids  were applied, it should be on care products with chemical peeling:  renounce AHA and BHA . This is a basic rule. The combination of chemical peeling and retinoic acid or vitamin A derivatives could in fact be too demanding skin.
  • After the product was applied with retinoids, should be about to wait 20 minutes . And only then, if necessary, apply more care products (serum, moisturizer, Okkusion ).
  • 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 and its derivatives are very light and air sensitive . Buys your retinoids in a pot , the effect is equal to zero. And it unfortunately there are a lot of both in the drug store as well as in pharmacies!
  • If products with retinoic acid & Co. no longer be applied, are positive changes in the skin might undo made. This was confirmed by several studies, s. about  here .


Now, what-the-counter products with retinol and -retinaldehyde  there on the market? Which one should usefully begin?

In one of the upcoming reviews of retinoids will report. ( The search engine on the blog is at your disposal! ). In the meantime, I would be your recommendations  very grateful regarding good products with retinoids! What preparations with retinoids habet you already tried? With what results? Reported please!

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 0.5%

Valutato 4.00 su 5
CHF 62.00

Dermaceutic Activ Retinol 1.0%

Valutato 5.00 su 5
CHF 72.00

Dermaquest Retinaldehyde Renewal Cream

CHF 82.00

Dermaquest Retinol Brightening Serum

Valutato 5.00 su 5
CHF 86.00

Dermaquest Retinol Peptide Youth Serum

Valutato 5.00 su 5
CHF 80.00

NeoStrata Retinol + NAG Complex

CHF 78.00

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