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Retinol Vs Retinaldehyde

Retinoids are a family of chemicals that makes up Vitamin A.





You can't make Vitamin A without eating beta carotene rich foods like cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk and yogurt. Or, applying it to the skin. Retinoic acid for skincare is the prescription version of Vitamin A, most widely known as Retin-A. Retin-A is an amazing ingredient for the health of your skin. There are special receptors located in the skin specifically for Vitamin A (Retinoic Acid). Retinoic Acid is a bottom up exfoliant. That means it sinks down to the dermal/epidermal junction in the skin to reach these receptors. At the base of the epidermis it increases cell turnover. As the cells migrate upward the newer cells are fresher, plumper, more hydrated and more organized. This creates healthier skin with a smoother surface, softened lines and wrinkles and more even pigmentation. In the dermis it stimulates repair factors such as increased collagen production. The dermis becomes a bit thicker and stronger. It also makes older cells shed off the skin's surface, which is why some people think the major purpose for using retinoids are for exfoliation, even though that’s really a secondary effect. 


This sounds like the perfect anti-aging skincare ingredient. Well maybe not. The problem with using Retin-A (tretinoin) is that it is very irritating for most people. If you have thicker skin your skin may easily become more acclimated to this prescription version. For those skins it's great but most of us don't want to endure the uncomfortable peeling, redness and irritation that may persist for months.



Second in line is Retinaldehyde. This is the non-prescription version (found in LEVEL UP that is the closest to retinoic acid. Chemically it takes only one conversion to become retinoic acid - the prescription version. It does this in a more comfortable, less irritating way. You'll get great results using this formula. Although it can be irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin or who have never used retinoids before. If you have sensitive skin I recommend starting with something gentler and then working your way up to Retinaldehyde.



Retinol is not as functional within the skin because it has to be converted to retinoic acid. This is actually a two-step process that occurs in the cell. It first gets converted to retinaldehyde and then it’s converted to retinoic acid. Even though it requires two conversions, it’s still very effective, which is why it’s found in so many cosmetic formulations like our Retinol Resurfacing Treatment. This is a great choice for sensitive skin or someone just starting their retinoid journey.


Retinyl esters are a category of retinoids that is considered to be the weakest. They are made up of larger molecules that require a three-step conversion to becoming retinoic acid - which is needed to be accepted by retinoic acid receptors. Some common retinyl esters include retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinyl palmitate. The drawback of using a retinyl ester is the three-step conversion. There are discussions going on in the scientific community about whether or not this conversion is happening at any great level. Not all retinol esters get converted to retinol. Even less of the retinol is getting converted to retinaldehyde, and even then, not all of the retinaldehyde will become retinoic acid. At the end of the day, only a small portion is getting converted. Because of this, it may have less anti-wrinkle activity compared to retinol.


A word about percentages. As with Vitamin C, the recommended use level for Vitamin A will vary greatly depending on whether it’s in the form of an acid, alcohol, ester, or liposome (for a time-released delivery). This means that percentages will vary greatly. Take our retinol form of Vitamin A for example. This exceptional anti-aging serum contains 0.4% stable, time-released liposomal retinol to engage the retinol receptors. Prescription retinoids usually contain a concentration of 0.1% at most, yet they’re known to be much more potent than the over-the-counter retinol, which typically contains a much higher percentage. Each form has its benefits and down sides so don't judge your Vitamin A product based on percentages alone.


Choosing to include retinoids in you skincare routine is a life long practice . You may see some initial changes in the first few months but the real magic happens over time. Whatever formula you choose start slowly. If you want to start with a retinol try it once a week and work up to three or four nights a week, usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday and possibly Sunday. Why not every night? Not only to avoid irritation but substituting with an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) product a couple nights a week is a quick way to remove those old, dull, dead worn out cells and for keeping your pores clear. Plus, it jump starts the repair process offered by your retinol. After an initial regime of using retinol 3-4 nights a week for about three months it may be time to change your formula to a Retinaldehyde to boost results, if your skin can tolerate it. Retinoids have given me great results and I've included them in my routine for several decades. I attribute this little gem for keeping my skin looking youthful - even in my late sixties.


Elizabeth believes in "Longevity Skincare", the idea that beautiful skin can endure throughout one's lifetime when utilizing the best that science and nature has to offer. LONGEVITY is a science-based skincare line that appreciates skin of all ages. LONGEVITY by Elizabeth Renee provides hydration, nutrition and protection from environmental aging. Your skin will receive high performance ingredients to help energize and repair its cells, resulting in a healthy skin with an enduring, vital glow.






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