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Anti-aging: is retinal the new retinol?

While the European Union bans facials based on concentrated retinol in quantities above 0.3%, brands already offer particularly attractive alternatives from the retinoid family. Like The Ordinary with its new 0.2% retinal emulsion. Let’s take stock with their scientific director.

If you don’t know anything about retinoids, to miss posed a few questions to The Ordinary’s scientific director, Pruvdi Kaa, because the brand offers several low-cost products based on this family of highly recognized active ingredients. It has also just released a new treatment, Retinal Emulsion 0.2%, which escapes the new European legislation. Decipher to try to understand if retinal could become the new retinol, and above all how to best use it to benefit from its anti-aging action without damaging the skin in the process.

Interview with Pruvdi Kaa, scientific director of The Ordinary

To miss. Have you heard about the change in legislation in Europe on retinol which can no longer be concentrated to more than 0.3% for facial products? Does this 0.2% retinal emulsion solve this problem?

Pruvdi Kaa. Yes, the European Union will introduce new legislation in 2024 based on the advice of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. These restrictions apply to retinol and retinyl esters such as retinyl palmitate. Retinal is therefore not subject to these new regulations.

What is the retina? What makes it different in the retinoid family?

Retinaldehyde is a well-studied retinoid/vitamin A derivative that helps address the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, skin roughness, even skin tone, and skin radiance. Retinoids must be converted to their bioactive form once applied to provide benefits to the skin.

While retinol must undergo two conversions, retinaldehyde is only one conversion step away from the more direct form of vitamin A, allowing for more efficient release of the form of the molecule that will provide skin health benefits.

Is retinol less irritating than retinol? Should we gradually acclimate the skin, as is recommended with retinol? How often do you recommend using it?

Both retinol and retinal have moderate irritation potential. Irritation depends on multiple factors such as formulation, concentration, etc. So it’s hard to say whether one is more irritating than the other. Irritation also depends on the skin of the person using it.


Our 0.2% Retinal Emulsion is the most potent retinoid we currently offer and is intended for experienced retinoid users. Therefore, if you are using retinoids for the first time, we strongly recommend starting with the lowest concentration possible (you can explore our formulas containing retinol or granactive retinoids, for example) and gradually increase the concentration if necessary. When incorporating Retinal Emulsion 0.2% into your routine, we recommend performing a skin test.

What benefits can we expect from using this 0.2% retinal emulsion?

This product offers a high concentration of retinaldehyde to support the signs of aging. This formula helps improve skin firmness and plumpness, refine skin texture and even skin tone, while improving skin luminosity. It also reduces the appearance of dark age spots and helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, including crow’s feet, frown lines and forehead lines.

Is there an age before which it makes no sense to use retinoids?

Young skin that shows no signs of aging doesn’t really need to use retinoids right away. We believe that for young skin, less is more, and it’s best to adopt a simple routine that focuses on hydration and supporting the skin barrier. Most people begin to see the first signs of aging in their mid to late 20s, when fine lines and wrinkles begin to form, but everyone will have a unique relationship with aging based on internal and external factors . The most important thing to consider is SPF, as it is the number one cause of skin aging. It is therefore essential to find a product that meets your needs and is comfortable to wear every day!

Could it be interesting to use this product if you suffer from acne? For what ?

This product is not a treatment for acne and people concerned about acne should consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

However, if you are worried about post-acne marks and are used to using retinoids, this product will help you even out your skin tone, including dark spots.

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