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Medik8 r-Retinoate Youth Activating Cream Review

is a Solution for:
Age Spots, Dull Skin, Fine Lines, Hyperpigmentation, Large Pores, Sun Spots, Uneven Skin, Wrinkles
Medik8 r-Retinoate Youth Activating Cream
May 1, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 4 Comments
TRU Rating
This next generation formula provides the fast-tracked results of retinol without the common side effects


Irons out fine lines, fades spots and resurfaces skin; no irritation


Not for purists

Having recently been won over by modern forms of retinol, I was extremely excited to try the new breakthrough formula from Medik8, called r-Retinoate ($225 in the shop). It is 2017 and I have seen the future of retinol — irritation-free with impressive results. I like this retinol serum so much that I look forward to using it, which, by the way, can be twice a day. Now that is a breakthrough.

First, I’ll reveal my results after testing it for three weeks. Then, I’ll explain what makes this retinol different — and superior — to those that came before it. You’ll note that I mentioned three weeks of testing. Normally, I go for at least 30 days, but with Medik8 r-Retinoate, the results after two weeks and then three had me excited enough to want to report back to the community.  For fine lines and resurfacing, this is one of the best serums I have used, and it has been especially effective around my mouth and on my detested lip lines.

R-Retinoate combines high effectiveness, favorable side effect profile (e.g. low capacity to produce skin irritation) and good stability (compared to other vitamin A derivatives and retinoids). So what is behind this formula? Retinyl retinoate is a new retinoid precursor and vitamin A derivative. The breakthrough is that it is produced by chemically joining the molecules of retinoic acid and retinol. On the skin, just one metabolic step is required to split it back into retinoic acid and retinol, at which point retinoic acid is immediately active whereas retinol can be converted to additional retinoic acid later on. (I cribbed a very useful explanation on Smart Skincare for this part of my post)

Due to this process, retinyl retinoate is supposed to be much more effective than retinol alone (eight times more, according to Medik8), and may be more powerful than retinaldehyde — possibly up to the chops of retinoic acid. Also nice is that it doesn’t bring on the irritation that is typically associated with these ingredients. Although the past weeks have been far from sunny here in New York, I can still say that I was able to use this serum morning and night every day with no increased sensitivity to the sun or irritation.

While this new ingredient does not have much of a research pedigree yet, there is a Korean study on mice from 2010 that found retinyl retinoate increased the production of hyaluronic acid, while reducing transepidermal water loss more than retinol, retinoic acid and retinaldehyde. In another Korean study, 46 women were treated with either topical 0.06 percent retinyl retinoate vs placebo, or 0.06 percent retinyl retinoate vs 0.075 percent retinol. Retinyl retinoate produced the greatest improvement in wrinkles, skin roughness and other parameters with no severe side effects.

While I am extremely impressed with Medik8 r-Retinoate, there is nothing other than this key active to note in the overall formula, other than vitamin C and sodium hyaluronate. One thing I should mention is that by the silky texture of this cream-serum, I assumed it would be packed with silicones. But it actually uses the plant-derived emollient and silicone alternative, heptyl undecylenate. It is worth noting that as an emollient, it seems to work very well. This product behaves like a moisturizer, which is another way r-Retinoate packs a punch above other retinol creams.

Overall, the formula most is most certainly not for purists, but most of the ingredients — such as the penetration enhancer methylpropanediol — are relatively benign. Exceptions would be the harsh preservatives BHT and sodium hydroxide.

  • December 19, 2018

    by Jennifer

    Does this help with acne as well?

  • May 4, 2018

    by Marta

    Hi Rita, we reviewed 10TR here: A key difference is that they are more traditional retinols that should be used at night whereas r-Retinoate is gentler and can be used during the day as well.

  • May 3, 2018

    by Rita

    Hi there. I was wondering whether you are willing to review their other very new product, crystal retinal 6 & 10 serum? I was wondering why they have pitched these two very similar Retin a derivatives and am perpkexed as to which one gives the best results as they are cheaper than the one you’ve reviewed. Regards, Rita

  • May 1, 2017

    by Amelia Stegehuis

    Well Marta, you've certainly got my attention! I've been waiting a long time for a more gentle Retinal product without the previous negative side effects & to be able to use it twice a day is like a dream! Given the results of your review after a relatively short period of time has got me really looking forward to giving the Medik8, r-Retinoate Youth Activating Treatment Cream a real try!

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