We put Medik8’s popular retinoid product under the lens to clarify the hype.
The Medik8 Crystal Retinal range is a great place to start if you've never used retinoids before. It's also a good option if you've used retinol products in the past but are looking for something gentler on the skin. And if you're an experienced retinol user, but want to try something new—this range could help you to embrace your bare skin.
Retinoids are a type of vitamin A, and they're essential for maintaining healthy skin, teeth and bones. Vitamin A is a complex fat-soluble molecule that can be found in animal foods like butter or eggs, or in orange and yellow fruits (carrots or mangoes) or vegetables (sweet potatoes).
Topical skincare retinoids in serums and creams can offer excellent skin health effects due to their ability to deeply penetrate the skin, stimulating collagen production and increasing skin cell turnover, which helps to soften wrinkles and fine lines, fade hyperpigmentation and improve skin tone.
There are four types or stages to skincare retinoids—in ascending strengths, these are: 1. retinol esters, 2. retinol, 3. retinal (or retinaldehyde) and 4. retinoic acid. Retinol is an active form of vitamin A that can be converted into retinaldehyde by the body's own enzymes before it converts to retinoic acid. The main science bit to know here is that all retinoids need to end up as retinoic acid to have an effect on the skin. Medik8 refers to this as the “retinol or retinal ladder”; the further away you are from retinoic acid, the gentler the formula will be on your skin; but the fewer conversions required, the more benefits delivered to the skin.
Medik8 is a leading brand for retinoid innovation, focused on results-driven formulas with active ingredients and effective delivery systems. The previously mentioned retinol ladder offers an easy way to work up to higher strengths so that your results don’t plateau. One of their most well-known ranges for laddering up is called Crystal Retinal™. Over to co-founder Pippa for a few words on why we rate Medik8 here at Renude:
“Medik8 is a fantastic example of a brand with solid principles, based on research. We love a brand that advocates for consistency when it comes to the skin. Their 'CSA' philosophy stands for Vitamin C + sunscreen during the day (to protect against UV and environmental exposure), and Vitamin A at night (to optimise skin regeneration.)
“Their range focuses on innovating in stability and delivery systems of these two key active ingredient types, offering a variety of formulas to suit most skin. They are particularly leading the way in retinoid innovation, having more than 10 products with different retinoid formats and concentrations. They also offer a number of professional products and treatments used in clinics across the globe. Oh, and every product is Vegan, by PETA standards, which is a big tick in our books.”
Being Crystal Retinal, this range is just one step away from retinoic acid—which is a good thing. This means the retinal offers up to 11x faster results than retinol while being just as gentle on the skin. Retinal also has antibacterial properties, making it particularly hard-working for oil and blemish-prone complexions. Medik8 use an innovative, patented crystal structure that holds the retinal molecules in a clever way to ensure they’re at their most potent—essentially ensuring that they stay active for optimum results—and adds Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E and Glycerin to hydrate.
Crystal Retinal 1™ (0.01% retinal): If you have very sensitive skin, this is a solid place to hop on the retinoid train.
Crystal Retinal 3™ (0.03% retinal): This is a common starting point on the retinal ladder to start seeing brighter, firmer and smoother-looking skin.
Crystal Retinal 6™ (0.06% retinal): If you’re an experienced skincare user or progressing from CR3, this higher strength will positively support the skin’s ageing journey.
Crystal Retinal 10™ (0.1% retinal): Up the ante with a higher strength formulation after CR6 to ensure your results don’t plateau.
Good question, and one you can speak to a Renude aesthetician about. As a general rule of thumb, we see skincare starting to use retinal in their 30s, but it can be used as early as their 20s if their skin is suitable for it. In our 30s, our natural production of collagen begins to slow down. It’s why we might notice skin feeling a little less firm, and lines starting to form. So if you’re looking to see some progress in terms of smoothing, firming and brightness, frequent retinal use will support that skin objective.
The thing about retinal is knowing the level to suit your skin when you’re starting out. Our approach at Renude is to always introduce a new ingredient by reviewing your routine as a whole, to check it fits in well with your product mix. You can do this with a Renude aesthetician if you’re interested.
Since some ingredients can cause irritation when used alongside retinal (like AHAs, BHAs and vitamin C), when using our team of aestheticians’ guidance, you can be sure that your routine works in harmony with the results you’re looking for.
As with all retinoids, we always recommend phasing Crystal Retinal into your routine, starting with twice a week and gradually building up to more frequent use as your skin builds tolerance. Always—and we mean always—apply it at night and use a high-quality SPF/sunscreen the next morning. Due to increased skin cell turnover, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun, so you’ll want to be sure you’re not counteracting all those wonderful benefits with damaging UV light.
In short, no. Retinoic acid or ‘tretinoin’ is the only retinoid that requires a prescription due to its high strength and is typically only prescribed to treat severe acne. Anyone can buy Medik8 Crystal Retinal, however, if you’re new or unsure about how to use it, it’s definitely worth making the most of our unlimited advice when you become a Renude member.
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