review medik8 r-retinoate intense

Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense claims to be the “best anti-aging product” ever.

For once, it may NOT be all hype. This is the first time that Retinyl Retinoate and Retinaldehyde – two forms of vitamin A that are more effective and gentler than retinol – come together in the same cream.

Exciting, isn’t it? The price is less so… Medik8 really believes this is the best antiaging product you can buy in the shops (or online) and the price reflects that.

I don’t mind splurging if I am 100% sure it works. Does it? I’ve put it to the test to find out:

What’s In Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense?


Retinoic acid is the active form of vitamin A proven to reduce wrinkles. All other forms of Vitamin A (retinoids) must be converted into retinoic acid to have an effect on wrinkles.

Retinol is the most common form of Vitamin A in OTC products. It converts into retinoic acid in two steps: Retinol → Retinaldehyde → Retinoic acid.

Put retinoic acid and retinol together and you’ve got Retinyl Retinoate. This molecule is gentler than both retinol and retinoic acid AND stable in the presence of light. You know what that means? You can put it in jars AND use it during the day.

FYI, Retinyl Retinoate needs to be converted into retinoic acid, too. It works like this: when you put it on your skin, your cells break it down into retinoic acid and retinol. Retinoic acid is effective straight away. Retinol? It takes more time, but your skin eventually converts that into retinoic acid, too.

Studies on Retinyl Retinoate are scarce but promising:

  • A 2010 study found that 0.06% Retinyl Retinoate is more effective at treating periorbital wrinkles (i.e. wrinkles around your eyes) than 0.075% retinol – and gentler too.
  • Another 2010 found that Retinyl Retinoate increases the production of Hyaluronic Acid in the skin and is less irritating than other retinoids.

If you can’t tolerate retinol, this sounds like a great option to consider.

P.S. You’ll find encapsulated Retinyl Retinoate only in Medik8 products, like Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense.

Related: What’s The Best Form Of Retinoids For YOU?

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Retinaldehyde needs to be converted into retinoic acid to work its magic, too. The conversion takes only 1 step: Retinaldehyde → Retinoic acid.

You see now why retinaldehyde is said to be 11x more powerful than retinol? Science agrees:

  • 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.

Translation: retinaldehyde helps fade away wrinkles, dark spots and acne.

The best part? It’s gentler than retinol, so even sensitive skin can use it. But just to be on the safe side, Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense uses microencapsulated retinol. That’s a fancy way of saying retinaldehyde is housed into tiny capsules that release it into the skin over a period of several hours instead than hitting it all at once.

Related: Is Retinaldehyde A More Powerful Alternative To Retinol?


Ceramides are the glue that holds your skin cells together (together with fatty acids, cholesterol etc). They literally waterproof skin and strengthen its protective barrier. This barrier has two jobs:

You’ll notice when this protective barrier stops working. UV rays, pollution, a poor diet, smoking (and all the other usual suspects) can destroy the ceramides in your skin, leaving holes all over the barrier.

Moisture escapes so your skin gets dry and flaky. Germs and bacteria make it all red and sore. Heck, even washing your face or applying moisturiser can be irritating and painful.

Strengthening the skin’s protective barrier is always a priority. It’s even more important when you’re using powerful actives like retinoids or vitamin C that – when abused – can disrupt this barrier.

Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense uses 3 types of ceramides to strengthen your skin’s barrier and patch up any holes in it, keeping your skin hydrated and strong.

Related: Are Ceramides The Key To Healthy Skin?

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):


Its texture is on the thicker side, yet it sinks in quickly and doesn’t feel sticky on the skin. It’s like a serum and moisturiser rolled into one.


Technically, it’s fragrance-free. But it’s loaded with essential oils that give it a citrusy scent. It’s pleasant, faint and doesn’t hang around too long, but it could irritate sensitive skin. My skin isn’t, so I’ve got no problem with it.

How To Use It

I know I’ve said Retinyl Retinoate is photostable and you can use it during the day. But I prefer to keep it for nighttime. Even Medik8 recommends you use it in the evening. It goes on after cleansing and before moisturiser.

Use it twice a week to start with. Then every other night and – finally – every night. Retinyl Retinoate and Retinaldehyde may be gentler than other retinoids but they’re still retinoids. Work your way up to avoid any unpleasant side effects – like dryness and irritation.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense is a muted orange in colour. On my pale skin, the hue blends seamlessly with my complexion, leaving no colour or tint behind.

I’ve been using it for more than 2 months now. Even powerful actives like retinoids don’t work overnight. It can take around 6 weeks to see the first results.

This cream makes a very bold claim – best antiaging product ever, remember? – and has an outrageous price tag, so I wanted to make sure it does what’s supposed to do… or not… How did it fare?

Well, I can’t say that I’ve seen a massive difference in my skin. I’ve been using 1% or higher retinol for a while, now. It makes my skin so clear, my pores almost invisible and my wrinkles smoother and less obvious.

Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense kept the status quo. My skin hasn’t massively improved since I’ve started using it, but it hasn’t worsened either. To me, that’s impressive.

It means that – for me at least – Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense works just as well as 1% retinol – minus the irritation. I experienced no flaking, peeling or redness at all.

If you’re using a lower concentration of retinol, then you’ll probably see better results from this earlier on. I think this is a good option to up your retinoid game without irritating your skin.

If you can stomach the price tag, Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense is definitely one of the most exciting retinoids product I’ve seen in a looooong time.

P.S. I’ve been using it for more than 2 months and I still haven’t run out. 😉

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Who Is This For?

Anyone who wants to up their anti-aging game without irritating skin.

Who Is This NOT For?

If you have sensitive skin, the essential oils in it could irritate it.


An elegant black bottle with a pump applicator that releases just the right amount of product you need, so none gets wasted. It lasts for ages, too.

Does Medik8 r-Retinoate Intense Live Up To Its Claims?

The sumptuous night cream is infused with ceramides and drone-targeted peptides which penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin where the active ingredients profoundly retexturise and visibly restore the appearance of beautiful skin. A fancy way of saying they make skin softer and smoother.
Fine lines visibly fade into nothingness and radiance reaches untold levels of luminosity. It helps to fade away fine lines, but it won’t get rid of them completely.
Both overnight rejuvenation and deep hydration are offered by this all-in-one night cream that may be the only product required after cleansing in the evening. It is hydrating. If you have oily skin, you may be able to skip moisturiser.

Price & Availability

£210 at Cult Beauty and Look Fantastic

Do You Need It?

If you’re looking for something gentler than 1% retinol but gives the same results, this is a good option to try.

Dupes And Alternatives

I don’t know of any dupes for this product.


Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Isododecane, Squalane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Polylactic Acid, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Cyclodextrin, PPG-12/SMDI Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Phytosterols, Cholesterol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Cholesteryl Nonanoate, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Canola Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Rubus Chamaemorus (Cloudberry) Seed Oil, Pentylene Glycol, Retinyl Retinoate, Retinal, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Extract, Citric Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil, Sorbitan Olivate, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin) Peel Oil, Isostearic Acid, Phytosphingosine, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Lecithin, Carbomer, C12-16 Alcohols, Caprylyl Glycol, Cananga Odorata Flower (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Litsea Cubeba (Verbena) Fruit Oil, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Stearic Acid, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid/Glycolic Acid Copolymer, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Sodium Polyaspartate, Acacia Decurrens (Black Wattle) Flower Extract, Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Oil, Cedrus Atlantica (Atlas Cedar) Bark Oil, Glyceryl Caprylate, Salvia Sclarea (Clary Sage) Leaf Oil, Vetiveria Zizanoides (Vetiver) Root Oil, Phenethyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Copper Heptapeptide-14 Pantothenate, Heptapeptide-15 Palmitate, Phenylpropanol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Titanium Dioxide, Alumina, BHT, Linalool, Limonene, Citral, CI 14700 (Red 4).