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What's the Difference Between Retin-A and Retinaldehyde?

Skin Fitness Raleigh skin care treatments

The skin acts as the body's first line of defense against harmful agents. This constant assault is why the signs of aging and acne first appear on the skin's surface. Therefore, proper skin care treatments are essential to delay the onset of aging and to control conditions such as acne. Vitamin A and its derivatives significantly improve skin's vibrancy and enhance general well-being. Vitamin A works by increasing cell turnover rate to rebuild tissue, prevent inflammation, acne and dry skin, and reduce fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Retinoid products are derivatives of Vitamin A and are available in different forms depending on strength. Some of these skin care treatments are Retinaldehyde and Retin-A.


Also called Tretinoin, Retin-A is derived from retinoic acid, a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A. At the start of use, the drug can cause peeling, dryness, redness and skin irritation. The results of Retin-A are seen 1 to 2 months after starting treatment. The treatment needs to be consistent to avoid resurfacing of wrinkles. It is stronger than most Vitamin A derivatives because it is in its usable form thus has a direct effect on skin when applied topically. Retin-A is mostly prescription-based. Retin-A works faster than the milder Retinaldehyde, especially for normal to oily skin. It should not be administered to pregnant women, nursing mothers or individuals with hypersensitivity to components of Retin-A.


Retinaldehyde is a naturally occurring derivative of Vitamin A like retinyl palmitate and retinol. It is produced in the body before being converted to retinol. Retinaldehyde is gentler on the skin compared to other forms of retinol. It is a better option for those with sensitive skin who want to use retinol-based products without suffering from its side effects. The ingredient is beneficial for people using retinol for wrinkle reduction and acne treatment. It is approved by the FDA and products that contain it often do not require a prescription. The concentration of Retinaldehyde in products such as eye creams is around 0.05% – 0.1%. Although Retinaldehyde is gentler on skin compared to Retin-A, it still has the potential to cause skin irritation in high concentration. It is relatively more expensive than other vitamin A derivatives.

Both Retin-A and Retinaldehyde are efficient products for skin care but work differently depending on their strength and the sensitivity of skin.

For more information on skin care treatments contact Skin Fitness Raleigh at 919-291-6846.

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