Best retinol or retinaldehyde product

Doctor, Which is the best retinol or retinaldehyde cream? What does retinol do for your skin? “

These are the questions, that I often encounter in my dermatology practice. Firstly, the term retinoid and retinol are not same. 

Retinoids are the group of compounds that have a chemical structure similar to Vitamin A. They are of 3 types:

Retinoic acid or tretinoin:

It is best anti-ageing retinoid. But, it is available on prescription because it is potent enough to cause reactions on your skin. It should be used under the supervision of dermatologist only.


Retinol and its derivatives like retinyl acetate, retinyl propionate, and retinyl palmitate is the most common constituent of anti-ageing cream. It is unstable and 20 times less potent than retinoic acid. Retinol is least likely to cause a skin reaction.


It is the best retinoid available without the prescription in United States.

Studies show that retinaldehyde at the concentration of 0.05% for 3-4 months increases the thickness, collagen production and elasticity of your skin. We have listed Best Retinaldehyde products in the next sections.

Retinoid work best when combined with Vitamin C as explained in the article, Skin Care Routine for ageing skin. You can also combine them with Chemical peeling at home for maximum benefits.

 Retinoids are best for oily skin type that does not have rosacea or sensitive skin.  Avoid if your skin is dry or sensitive.

Tips to find the best retinoid or retinaldehyde


Reading ingredient list is not so easy. Just scan through the list to find:

  • Type of retinoid: You could find words like Retinol, retinaldehyde,  retinyl acetate, retinyl propionate, and retinyl palmitate towards the end of ingredient list.
  • Other potent anti-ageing or anti-oxidant ingredients like peptides, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid,  Niacinamide etc.
  • Irritating, comedogenic, and harmful ingredients should be avoided.
  • We have reviewed the ingredient list of anti-ageing products in this article.


Retinoids oxidise on exposure to light or air. Therefore, don’t invest in retinoid that is packed in open jar because it would get inactive on exposure to air and sunlight. An airtight tinted or opaque packing for example pump bottle or tubes are best.


Retinol is unstable in nature. Only few reputed  brands have patented technology to preserve the potency of this precious ingredient.

Best Retinaldehyde product

Retinaldehyde is better than retinol. But if you are new to retinoids, you should start with retinol products listed in the next section. If your skin tolerates retinol well, then you can upgrade to retinaldehyde products listed below. Start slowly by using:

Once or twice a week- 1 st week.

Alternate night- 2nd  week.

Finally, every night in 3 rd week.

If you get the reaction again, discontinue and consult a dermatologist.

Do not forget to put sunscreen every morning. Here is the list of Best Dermatologist recommended Sunscreen.

Your skin might get dry after using retinaldehyde for few weeks. Make sure you switch to face wash that matches your current skin type. Here is the list of Dermatologist recommended

face wash for oily skin

face wash for combination or normal skin

face wash for dry skin

No.1: Avene RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended



Avene has 2 variants- 0.5% and 1 % retinaldehyde. You can start with 0.5 concentration and then move to 0.1 %.

This cream is infused with Eau thermal spring water. Its soothing action reduces irritant effect of retinaldehyde.

Relastide, a pro-elastin peptide is another scientifically proven ingredient. It helps in building elastin. Overall, it give plumper look to skin.

Pre-tocopherol is stabilised form Vitamin E. It help is skin repair by removing free radicals.

The base of Avene retinal is hydrating and soothing ingredients. This increase the tolerability of retinaldehyde product.

No.2: Dr.Different VITALIFT-A

retinaldehyde cream



Has patent liposomal technology that improve the penetration of retinaldehyde into skin.

Concentration of 0.5% retinaldehyde is good to begin with.

Has hyaluronic acid that hydrates and pumps up your skin.

Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acid provide deep hydration. This is desirable to reduce dryness of retinaldehyde.

Affordable than other brands.

No.3: MyChelle Retinal Serum

MyChelle Retinal Serum



This water based formula with 1% Retinaldehyde along with multiple natural ingredients.

Orange stem cells in this product has anti-ageing effect. It reduces wrinkles and makes skin firm.

Hydrating elements like ceramides, glycerine, sunflower oil, aloe vera. This will contercat dryness caused by retinaldehyde.

Soothing action of Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Vitamin E, Allantoin and Aloe vera increases tolerability of product.


Eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil, lemon peel oil are irritant. They can increase chances of reaction with retinaldehyde.

Best Retinol Products

No. 6: The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended

Available online in:





Contains 1 % pure Retinol

Squalene base helps in stabilising retinol. Retinol is an unstable molecule and it oxidizes in presence of water or light. This product is water-free and uses Squalane as a base ingredient

Opaque bottle.

Trusted brand


Dropper bottle exposes the product to air that might affect the efficacy of Retinol.

No. 5: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended







Has retinol SA that is a combination of retinol and retinyl palmitate. According to the product website “Accelerated Retinol SA combines the highest concentration of Neutrogena’s Retinol SA with glucose complex, an exclusive booster that delivers pure stabilised retinol into the skin’s surface quickly and effectively, leaving skin feeling smoother and younger-looking.”

It also has ascorbic acid and Sodium Hyaluronate

Pump packing.

Comes with the trust of Johnson & Johnson


The concentration of retinol is not mentioned.

No. 4: Revibra A15 Pure Bioactive Vitamin A Cream

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended



It contains retinol 0.15 %

Has an innovative packing with a capsule that is in a stable form by preventing contact with air or sunlight.

The pure form of retinol.

Free from colours, preservatives, fragrances

Manufactured in Italy and marketed in India by Dr Reddys


Doesn’t have any other anti-ageing or anti-oxidant.

Might be irritating for sensitive skin types.

No 3: Olay Night Serum: Regenerist Retinol 24 Serum

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended

Available online in






Has 2 forms of retinoids- Retinol and retinyl palmitate

In addition has an anti-ageing peptide Matrixyl – A 5 amino acid peptide with promising research showing that it can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and improve skin texture.

Niacinamide in this serum further help in skin lightening and soothing your skin

The pump bottle protects the ingredients from air and sun exposure.

Trusted brand.


The concentration of retinoids is not mentioned.

Overall a good product that gives the benefit of two major types of anti-ageing agents, namely retinoids and peptides at affordable prices.

No 2: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended

It is available online in






Has retinol, concentration not mentioned

One of the trusted brands for retinol-based wrinkle creams. The Roc website says” If exposed to light or air, retinol can degrade and lose its effectiveness. This is why our skincare scientists developed innovative processing guidelines that limit product exposure to light and oxygen, preserving the integrity and strength of RoC® Retinol.”

Has Glycolic acid and Vitamin C that too in the most potent form of Ascorbic acid,

Has a perfect combination of good Anti-aging(retinol), exfoliating(Glycolic acid) and antioxidant(Vitamin C).

Unlike most tube packing the nozzle is thin to minimise exposure to air or sunlight. The company claims that it is a special packing that is made to preserve the unstable retinol.


The concentration of retinoids is not mentioned.

No. 1 Fillerina HA Night Cream

Best retinol or Retinaldehyde: Dermatologist Recommended


Has Retinyl palmitate form of retinoid

Has mixture 3 peptides that works similar to Botox. They block the neurotransmitter signal similar to Botulinum toxin. Regular use of Fillerina can reduce expression lines like crow’s feet, forehead lines and frown lines.

Mixture of 12 Hyaluronic acid, 3 Collagen, 2 easting that help in plumping and firming up skin.

Glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and Vitamin C gently exfoliate and lightens up your skin. 

Anti-oxidants like Ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin C) and Tocopherol, (Vitamin E) that help in revering skin damage.


It is expensive, but it is worth buying.


What are retinoids?

Retinoids are a group of compounds that have a chemical structure similar to Vitamin A. According to Wikipedia, there are three generations of retinoids:

  • The first generation includes retinol, retinal, tretinoin (retinoic acid), isotretinoin, and alitretinoin.
  • The second generation includes etretinate and its metabolite acitretin.
  • The third-generation includes adapalene, bexarotene, and tazarotene.

All of the above retinoids are used in various skin disorders, for example:

  • Adapalene and Isotretinoin for acne.
  • Acitretin and tazarotene for psoriasis.
  • Tretinoin and Retinol for skin ageing.

KINDLY NOTE: RETINOIDS SHOULD BE AVOIDED DURING PREGNANCY because they might cause birth defects when taken orally. We do not recommend topical application as well to be on the safer side.

How to use retinol/retinaldehyde creams?

Wrong skin care product or even, right skincare product used in the wrong way can harm your skin. Retinoid is one such ingredient that should be used with caution as given below:

  • A retinoid should be used by oily to combination skin types that is NOT prone to sensitivity breakouts. It should not be used for dry or sensitive skin.
  • Always use retinoids at night.
  • Apply only a small amount of retinoid cream on your T-zone, followed by cheeks. End by applying a small amount on the delicate skin below your eye.
  • Use retinoid cream for at least 3 months (maximum 6 months) to reap the anti-ageing benefits. You can alternate retinoids with other anti-ageing products like one of these Vitamin C serum.
  • Keep your expectations realistic. Do not expect a totally new look as shown in the advertisement, retinoid help in improving skin texture, fine lines and age spots. For further details, read this article, what to expect from anti-ageing creams?
  • Discontinue use if your skin develops redness, irritation or a rash. In such cases, wait until reaction subsides and restart slowly as follows:
    • Once a week for 1 weeks.
    • Twice a week for 1 weeks.
    • Alternate night for 1 weeks.
    • Finally, every night.
    • If you get the reaction again, discontinue and consult a dermatologist.

Combine Retinol or retinaldehyde product with L-Ascorbic acid serum in morning, to know more read, Skin care routine for ageing skin.

What does retinol or retinaldehyde do for your skin?

Retinoids including retinol work by attaching to the receptors present in the nucleus of your skin cells and modulate the growth and differentiation of these cells. Though the mechanism is too complex to understand, in simple language, retinoids make skin cells in the outer layer of your skin to grow more efficiently, and they also increase the collagen and elastin fibre in the deeper layer of skin. Studies show that there is some degree of reversal of skin ageing both clinically and at the microscopic level after using retinoids for 3 to 12 months.

Is retinol or retinaldehyde really the most potent anti-ageing ingredient?

No, tretinoin rather than retinol is the most potent anti-ageing retinoid. It has been proven to be effective in reversing signs of skin ageing especially photo-ageing in many trials. However, tretinoin is available by prescription only. Secondly, it can cause skin reactions in the form of redness, irritation, burning, rash etc; dermatologically termed as the retinoid reaction. Retinaldehyde is the second most potent retinoid followed by Retinol and its derivatives.

I have compared the 3 common retinoids used for anti-ageing in the table given below:

Available only with the prescription.Available without a prescription.Available without a prescription.
Most potent anti-ageing retinoid.Retinaldehyde is less potent than tretinoin but more potent than retinol.Retinol is the least potent.
Tretinoin does not get spoiled easily on storage.Retinaldehyde does not get spoiled easily on storage.Retinol is unstable and gets spoiled on exposure to air or sunlight.
Most likely to cause retinoid reactionsThe retinoid reaction is less with Retinaldehyde.The retinoid reaction is less with retinol.

What else can be done for anti-ageing?

Anti-ageing can be achieved by 3 fold approach of protecting your skin from sun and lifestyle damage, preserving the natural skin barrier and rejuvenating the lost collagen and elastin. Retinoids and peptide help in the last step. For holistic approach to keep your skin young and radiant, click on this link Anti-ageing: 3 month skin care routine recommended by dermatologist


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Note: We have include brands available in India, United States, United Kingdom and Canada in our regime finder.