4 Benefits Of Retinaldehyde For Your Skin You Should Know

This powerful and skin-nourishing ingredient may be the answer to all your skin woes.

Medically reviewed by Dr Ashok GundDr Ashok Gund, MBBS, CSD
By Swathi ESwathi E, Certified Skin Care Coach  • 

Vitamin A helps reduce wrinkles, prevent hyperpigmentation and premature aging, and improve skin tone (1). As a derivative of vitamin A, you can also use retinaldehyde for skin issues. It is one of the best solutions to minimize your skin care woes. Using it daily may help improve your skin health and improve aging signs like wrinkles and fine lines.

Due to its fewer side effects, retinaldehyde is considered a better alternative to retinol (another derivative of vitamin A) (2). This article discusses the benefits of retinaldehyde for the skin, how to use it, and the precautions to keep in mind. Read on.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Initially called retinene, retinaldehyde is also referred to as retinal and vitamin A aldehyde.

What Is Retinaldehyde?

Close-up of retinaldehyde cream for skin

Image: Shutterstock

Retinaldehyde is a stabilized form of vitamin A that converts to retinoic acid when applied topically. Retinoids like retinyl palmitate, retinol, and retinaldehyde convert to retinoic acid for the skin to make use of them. Their potency and efficacy depend on this conversion process. The retinoid gets weaker as the number of steps for its conversion increases. Retinaldehyde forms retinoic acid in just one conversion process and is more potent than other retinoids.

Retinaldehyde products may help treat acne. They may also reduce the signs of premature aging.

protip_icon Trivia
As per the FDA, the usage of retinaldehyde does not require a prescription. Instead, you can procure it over the counter.

We discuss the benefits retinaldehyde can have for the skin in the next section.

What Are The Benefits Of Retinaldehyde For The Skin?

Woman using retinaldehyde cream to reduce wrinkles

Image: Shutterstock

Retinaldehyde is good for sensitive skin. It causes less irritation compared to its counterparts. It helps reduce wrinkles, lighten skin tone, rejuvenate skin, and treat acne. Retinaldehyde also speeds up skin cell turnover, reduces hyperpigmentation, and stimulates collagen production.

1. May Improve Skin Tone

The production of new skin cells to replace the existing ones (called skin cell turnover) slows down with age. Retinaldehyde (tretinoin) accelerates skin cell turnover and can make skin smooth and even-toned (3). A study shows that the use of cosmetic cream with retinaldehyde in it has improved the melanin index of the group (4).

2. May Improve Skin Texture And Hydration

Retinol, retinal and retinoic acid have the same biological features as vitamin A (3). Like retinoic acid, retinaldehyde is a retinoid that helps boost the production of epidermal proteins with less irritability. This may improve skin texture and hydration. A study shows that the ingredient is well tolerated and improves skin hydration and texture (4).

3. May Reduce Acne

To treat acne issues, usually one can do retinoid treatments that reduce sebum production and antibiotics that fight bacterial infections. Since retinaldehyde is a retinoid that has antibacterial properties, it may help reduce acne. A study shows that daily application of retinaldehyde has reduced the density of propionibacterium acnesi  XThe bacteria that causes acne that is most common around the sebaceous glands (nose, chin, forehead, and back). (5).

4. May Reduce Aging And Photoaging Signs

Use of retinaldehyde increases epidermal thickness and cutaneous elasticity (6). This makes the skin thicker and more elastic, helping in reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Thus, it benefits the skin against aging signs. Studies also show it is an effective topical agent against photoagingi  XPremature aging of the skin caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, causing wrinkles, sun spots, and loose skin to appear. signs (7).

Retinaldehyde appears to be superior to other retinoids. But how do they compare?

Retinaldehyde Vs. Other Retinoids

Woman with sensitive skin applying retinaldehyde for relief

Image: Shutterstock

Other retinoids include retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinoic acid, tazarotene, adapalene, and isotretinoin. However, retinoic acid is the purest form, and the other derivatives must get converted to it. Retinaldehyde has the most similar properties to retinoic acid and takes lesser time to convert and has a good tolerance profile (8). The metabolism of retinaldehyde to retinoic acid occurs only by keratinocytesi  XThe cells found in the skin's outermost layer that form a protective layer to heal wounds and suppress inflammation. at an appropriate stage of differentiation. Hence, retinoic acid formed on the skin will be more controlled and shows no adverse effects (1).

People who used retinol and retinyl palmitate products may have had side effects like dry skin, sun sensitivity, flaky skin, peeling, etc. Retinaldehyde might help those with sensitive skin or those who have not seen good results after trying products containing other retinoids.

While retinaldehyde has fewer side effects compared to other retinoids, it is still important to know them. Keep reading.

Side effects Of Retinaldehyde

Woman experiencing redness due to excessive use of retinaldehyde

Image: Shutterstock

A common misconception is that retinaldehyde causes breakouts. But the chances are fewer as it helps unclog the pores. However, any other ingredient in a retinaldehyde product can cause breakouts. Retinaldehyde is less likely to have any other side effects. Use it with a moisturizer or minimize the quantity and frequency if you develop flaky skin or redness.

However, the safety of using topical retinoids during pregnancy is a controversial case as there have been cases of birth defects due to topical tretinoin use. Though it is not proved to be the reason for these defects, women are advised to not use topical retinoids, including retinaldehyde, during pregnancy (9).

protip_icon Quick Tip
A moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid may be the best to apply after using retinaldehyde products, as it may calm skin irritation and dryness.

You may now be willing to include retinaldehyde in your skincare regimen as it has fewer side effects. But how can you use it? Read to know more.

How To Use It?

Woman applying retinaldehyde as an under-eye cream

Image: Shutterstock

It is important to observe your skin’s reaction after using a new product. Use retinaldehyde at the same frequency if you have already used other retinoid products. Otherwise, start using it twice a week. Apply it every night if the skin reacts positively. Minimize use a few times a week if the skin turns red or dry.

Apply only a pea-sized amount (0.25g) of the product for the whole face. Begin with a product whose retinaldehyde concentration is low. You may gradually use products of a higher retinaldehyde concentration if you do not experience any allergies.

The best products that contain retinaldehyde are face serums, anti-aging serums, eye creams, and face masks. A good retinaldehyde serum brightens the skin and maintains a moisture barrier. Retinaldehyde eye creams help reduce dark circles, fine lines around your eyes, and de-puff the face. Be consistent with your use. The best results may take more than six months.

Retinaldehyde, a derivative of vitamin A, helps solve skin care troubles. You can use retinaldehyde for skin issues like wrinkles, uneven skin tone, blemishes, and hyperpigmentation. Due to its good tolerance profile and fewer side effects, it is considered one of the most effective vitamin A derivatives. It is more suitable for sensitive skin, and you can include it in your skin care regimen as serums, anti-aging serums, eye creams, and face masks. However, do a patch test before using retinaldehyde and consult a doctor if you experience any side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use niacinamide with retinaldehyde?

Yes, you can use niacinamide with retinaldehyde. You can either buy a product with both ingredients or use separate products for each.

Can I use retinaldehyde with vitamin C?

No, you should not use retinaldehyde with vitamin C together as it can over-exfoliate your skin, resulting in increased skin sensitivity. If you wish to incorporate both ingredients into your skin care routine, ensure that you use one ingredient in the morning and the other at night.

Key Takeaways

  • Retinaldehyde is a stabilized derivative of vitamin A that quickly converts to retinoic acid when applied to the skin.
  • Applying retinaldehyde may keep your skin hydrated, reduce acne, and improve the overall texture of your skin.
  • However, pregnant women should avoid using topical retinaldehyde during pregnancy.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
  2. Cosmeceuticals: the evidence behind the retinoids
  3. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments
  4. Efficacy and safety of retinaldehyde 0.1% and 0.05% creams used to treat photoaged skin: A randomized double-blind controlled trial
  5. Antibacterial activity of retinaldehyde against Propionibacterium acnes
  6. Efficacy of topical 0.05% retinaldehyde in skin aging by ultrasound and rheological techniques
  7. Ultrasound imaging demonstration of the improvement of non-ablative laser remodeling by concomitant daily topical application of 0.05% retinaldehyde
  8. Tolerance profile of retinol retinaldehyde and retinoic acid under maximized and long-term clinical conditions
  9. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy
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