Retinoids is the big, umbrella term that includes all different forms of vitamin A derivatives including those you get from your dermatologist, and those you can get over the counter.

Under the retinoid family are retinyl esters, retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. Upon topical application, vitamin A derivatives have to undergo conversion to the bioavailable form, retinoic acid. Retinoids can increase skin cell turnover, reduce blemishes and dark spots, and improve wrinkles for smoother skin.

Retinoic acid is commonly known as tretinoin but is for prescription use only. The classic form of vitamin A without a prescription is retinOL, but retinAL (aka retinaldehyde) is truly the next-generation form of vitamin A. Where retinOL requires two conversion steps to retinoic acid, retinAL only requires one conversion, making it the closest to retinoic acid without a prescription. Due to retinal’s potency, a fraction of the concentration is required compared to retinol, making it easier for the skin to use and benefit from. Like how A comes before O in the alphabet, retinAL is faster-acting than retinOL.

"Retinoids, including retinal, are polyunsaturated compounds that have a number of double bonds in their chemical structure. This inherently makes them more unstable, oxidize rapidly, and lose potency over time. At Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, we use a stabilized retinal in our Retinal Night™ Advanced 0.1% Retinal Firming Treatment through a patented dermal delivery platform. This delivery system protects the retinal molecule for optimum stability, potency, and delivery—resulting in no oxidation or shift in color. The technology is like a patchless patch where it provides sustained release of retinal to your skin. This means your skin is not overwhelmed, which reduces potential for irritation and ensures long-lasting effectiveness. Retinal Night’s™ formulation truly delivers amazing results without the irritation." - Dr. Whitney Bowe, Board-Certified Dermatologist, Scientist, Founder + CEO

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