Alternatives to Medik8 Crystal Retinal at a fraction of the price using the same star ingredient
If you’ve heard of Medik8, then you’ve probably heard a lot of good things about the brand. Despite it being quite pricey, it’s definitely one of the brands getting a lot of positive attention lately from skincare diehards. They recently raised capital from private equity, which means they are growing incredibly fast and we’ll undoubtedly be hearing about them even more often.
If you know Medik8, then you will have heard of their bestselling product, the Crystal Retinal. According to Medik8’s description of the product “retinal can deliver results comparable to clinical-grade vitamin A up to 11 times faster than classic forms of retinol.”
Retinal vs. Retinol
Retinal (or retinaldehyde) and Retinol are both in the vitamin A derivative family and both work by being converted into its active form “retinoic acid”. The major difference is that Retinol requires 2 conversion steps by the enzymes in our skin to become retinoic acid and Retinal only requires one step. Retinol needs to convert to Retinal and then into retinoic acid. Retinal can skip a step. So the thinking is that Retinal should be even more effective than Retinol at doing the things that retinoic acid has been proven to do – like stimulating collagen production, improving acne, reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin density.
An encapsulated and stabilized Retinal
Despite the fact that Retinal provides a shortcut conversion to retinoic acid, you’ll find many more products on the market that use Retinol. The reason is that Retinal is harder to formulate with due to its inherent instability. One supplier, CoValence Laboratories makes a stabilized Retinal called IconicA to be used in cosmetic preparations. It comes in powder form and is easily added to almost any cream, lotion, or serum.
We know from our research that the patented ingredient IconicA contains Cyclodextrin, Cloudberry Seed Oil and Retinal.
Some detective work
By isolating these 3 ingredients, we’re able to predict which products in our database contain IconicA. Yes, you guessed it, Medik8 Crystal Retinal is one of these products. Medik8 sells the product at different strengths and the brand charges $49 to $100 for 30mL depending on the strength.
Do note that not all brands disclose the concentration or strength of Retinal used in their products. Beginners should always start at lower concentrations if a product comes in different strengths and/or follow specific brand directions.
Dupes for Medik8 Crystal Retinal
So it's pretty amazing that we've found the exact main active as Medik8 in so many other products. Proof that the notion that anyone can make a product that works just as well as anyone else is very true.
Sure, you may argue that all of these ingredient lists are different and some of these products could contain additional ingredients that make them different or better. But we think it's more reasonable to consider the fact that the main function of a Retinal product relates to the working of the Retinal. In the case of the products below, it's highly likely the same Retinal formulation.
The other products we found containing IconicA are:
African Botanics Retinal Night Cream ($200 for 50mL)
Allies Of Skin 1A Retinal & Peptides Overnight Mask ($109 for 50mL)
Apothekari A is for Anti-Aging Retinal Serum (CA$80 for 30mL)
Arcona Advanced A Serum ($85 for 35mL)
Face Reality Vitamin A Corrective Serum ($44 for 30mL)
Geek & Gorgeous A-Game 10 0.1% Retinol Serum (€18.50 for 30mL)
Geek & Gorgeous A-Game 5 0.05% Retinol Serum (€12.50 for 30mL)
Maelove Moonlight Retinal Super Serum ($36.95 for 30mL)
ModVellum Clinical Antidotum Smoothing Serum ($125 for 29mL)
MyChelle Dermaceuticals Remarkable Retinal Serum ($48 for 30mL)
Omorovicza Midnight Renewal Serum ($185 for 30mL)
Sarah Chapman Icon Night Cream ($127.50 for 30mL)
Sircuit Skin Infusion-A ($80 for 30mL)
Youth To The People Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum ($68 for 30mL)