Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 review

Is retinol’s reign over?

Up until now, no other retinoid was a serious threat to its OTC supremacy. Everything else was too gentle to make a dent on wrinkles or too unstable to be of an any use.

Those days are over. Meet retinaldehyde, a form of vitamin A that promises to work faster than retinol – and without the irritation, too!

Is it too good to be true? I’ve put Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 to the test for the past few weeks to find out:

What’s In Medik8 Crystal Retinal?


Retinol doesn’t work. Retinoic acid does.

For retinol to work its magic on wrinkles, it must be converted into retinoic acid. The conversion goes like this:

Retinol → Retinaldehyde → Retinoic acid.

You see it now, don’t you? If you use retinaldehyde from the start, you’d get retinoid acid in one step. And that’s what your skin is really after.

The fewer steps it takes a retinoid to convert into retinoic acid, the better it works. Don’t take my word for it. Science agrees too:

  • A 1999 study found that retinaldehyde “has many of the properties of tretinoin in its beneficial effects on photoaging”. It reduces UVA damage, boosts collagen and repairs elastin fibers.
  • A 2005 study confirms its collagen-boosting abilities and suggests retinaldehyde works even better when paired with other antioxidants (no one likes to play alone).
  • A 2013 study proves it’s just as good at fading dark spots. It works by reducing melanin concentration in the skin.
  • A 2002 study discovered its has powerful antibacterial properties that kill P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.
  • A 2014 study paired it with glycolic acid and noted this combo is effective at treating mild to moderate acne even during the sun exposure period – without irritating skin.

To sum it all up: retinaldehyde fades away wrinkles, dark spots and acne – just like retinol.

One more thing: Medik8 has microencapsulated retinaldehyde. In plain English, microencapsulation is a technology that releases retinaldehyde into the skin slowly over a period of a few hours instead than all at once. That makes it gentle enough for sensitive skin too.

Related: Does Retinaldehyde Provide The Benefits Of Retinol Without The Side Effects?


Retinaldehyde works… overtime. Those wrinkles weren’t formed in a day. They won’t disappear in a day.

In the meantime, why not use something that plumps up skin so much, those fine lines look way smaller? That’s a job for moisture magnets like hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid steals moisture from the air and gives it to the skin so it can stay plump all day. 

FYI, this plumping effect isn’t all hyaluronic acid does. This moisture magnet can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water so it deeply hydrates skin from within and gives it a lovely glow, too.

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):


Lightweight, orange-coloured texture that spreads easily on the skin and absorbs quickly.


Vanilla and tonka bean.

How To Use It

Every other night, after cleansing.

Performance & Personal Opinion

I’ve been using Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 for a month now and the results are very similar to retinol: after a couple of days, the texture of my skin was way smoother. The large pores on my t-zone had shrunk. And my skin has a lovely glow.

But what about wrinkles? Let’s be honest here: you won’t see a massive reduction in 4 weeks. Retinaldehyde, like all retinoids, demands consistency. Keep using it and you’ll see results.

Also, strength matters. The higher the concentration of retinaldehyde, the faster it works. Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 has 0.06% stabilized retinaldehyde, but the brand also makes a Crystal Retinal 10 version that has 0.1% stabilised retinaldehyde. As always, start small and build up dose overtime.

Unless you have oily skin, this alone won’t be moisturising enough for you. I apply an oil on top to give my skin the extra moisture it needs during the night.

So, should you switch? If your skin’s sensitive or you simply don’t want to put up with retinol’s side effects (think peeling and flaking), this is a good alternative to try. Let me know how you like it if you do. 😉

Related: What’s The Right Form Of Retinoids For You?

medik8 crystal retinal 6

Who Is It For?

  • Anyone serious about anti-aging
  • Sensitive skin

Who Is This NOT For?

Unless you’re allergic/sensitive to one of the ingredients, anyone can use it.


A grey tube with a pump applicator. Sleek and practical.

Does Medik8 Crystal Retinal 6 Live Up To Its Claims?

Reducing the appearance of fine lines in just 4 weeks,3 Crystal Retinal boosts skin’s natural collagen production to resurface and renew the complexion.  True. Please note that reducing the appearance of fine lines is NOT the same as reducing fine lines.
The naturally peach-coloured serum-cream sinks effortlessly into skin to nurture and smooth the complexion.  True.

Price & Availability

£59.00 at Medik8

Do You Need It?

If you’re looking for an alternative to retinol, this is worth the splurge.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • Arcona Advanced A Serum ($85.00): available at Dermstore and Nordstrom
  • Osmosis Renew Level 4 Vitamin A Serum ($88.00): available at Dermstore.


Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Isododecane, Cyclodextrin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Squalane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinal, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Extract, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Rubus Chamaemorus (Cloudberry) Seed Oil, Sodium Polyaspartate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Dipteryx Odorata (Tonka) Bean Extract, BHT, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxyacetophenone, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Alumina, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Stearic Acid, Coumarin, CI 14700 (Red 4).