Retinaldehyde - by Dr Ben Johnson
Retinaldehyde is the most exciting and well-researched ingredient in skincare today. For years it has been researched and applauded as one of the most active ingredients in the skin but has been too expensive to put into skincare. Through our lab partnership and new technology, we are elated to bring you Retinaldehyde-liposome. In the body, we convert Beta Carotene into Retinol, Retinol into Retinaldehyde and Retinaldehyde into Retinoic Acid.
All of these Vitamin A derivatives have important and proven activity in the skin in an escalating level from Beta Carotene to Retinoic Acid respectively. Retinoic Acid is the only ingredient that requires a prescription even though Retinaldehyde has a similar activity level. Both Retinaldehyde and Retinoic acid are substantially more active (500 times more!) than their Vitamin A counterparts which means that we can use smaller amounts to achieve the desired results.
The importance of this will be explained shortly. All of the Vitamin A derivatives have a tough time (due to their size) penetrating throughthe epidermis. One study showed 2% of the topically applied retinol penetrated through the upper epidermis. This means that 98% stayed in the upper epidermis where it does nothing but increase irritation and damage the barrier of the skin.
Therefore, to have an effect on the dermis, larger volumes are often required. Unfortunately, this means that 98% of those larger volumes of retinol sit on the top of the skin working against you (over-exfoliation, irritation). The advantage of using Retinaldehyde or Retinoic Acid is that smaller amounts (with much higher activity levels) can be used very effectively.
Retinoic acid and all retinols are most effective in their "All Trans" configuration and that is how most Retin A is delivered...that is the good news. The bad news is that the all-trans retinols are significantly more expensive and are (by law) only identified on the label as "All Trans..." (not L-retinol AGP, not Retinyl Palitate, not Retinol/Vitamin A). The other bad news is that All Trans Retin A has a defect in its methodology.
Once the skin converts Retinaldehyde to Retinoic Acid, it cannot be converted back into a form of Vitamin A that can be stored. That is why the skin converts only enough to perform the desired function and leaves the rest in storage forms of Retinaldehyde and/or Retinol.
If you apply topical Retin A, the skin cannot shut it off which results in two things; irritation from over-stimulation and over-exfoliation, and, a probable tendency for the Retinoic Acid receptors to down-regulate. All Trans Retinoic Acid has by far the most receptors of any form of Vitamin A and that is what makes it so potent. However, chronic stimulation (as is the case for every receptor in the body), results in fewer active receptors and thus diminished results over time. All Trans Retinaldehyde is the best form possible of the choices listed above.
In addition to having its own receptor activity, it is the immediate precursor of Retinoic Acid so the skin will convert a significant amount to that form upon application. However, there will never be an over-stimulation problem because the skin regulates the conversion and just makes what it needs. Research has repeatedly shown that Retinaldehyde has a similar activity profile to Retin A but with much less irritation. We still have the same issue of poor penetration, however.
By incorporating it into a liposome, we enhance its penetration (an important factor in the use of Retinols because of their size) and help prevent its oxidation which also occurs with all Retinols. Until recently, there was no way to put this extremely expensive ingredient in skincare but, thanks to our lab partnerships, we have been able to bring this exciting ingredient to the professional marketplace.
To view clinical studies from Osmosis on retinaldehyde click here
Worried about retinaldehyde and pregnancy?
Read what Dr Ben Johnson MD and owner of Osmosis has to say by clicking here