Medik8 Crystal Retinal 10 Review

(Not sponsored. No affiliate links.)

What is it?

It is the toughest review to write ever for me really and only testing lasted the longest, 4 months to be exact. It is a serum, it is a powerful serum, it is a promising serum and yet somehow, I failed to grasp the sense of all of that jazz. I love vitamin A on my skin, I love all forms of it and all of its steps to reach that godsent retinoic acid. You can read all about it here and how my skin just loves the highest strengths of retinol you can read here.

In this case it is all about retinaldehyde, or simply, retinal. Difference between retinAl and retinOl is that retinal is one step closer to retinoic acid (RA) meaning less of its goodness would be lost along the way to the effective form for the skin. Here is the quotation from the science paper on it:

“Human keratinocytes transform retinol into retinaldehyde and then into RA by two enzymatic steps involving dehydrogenases. The first step is rate limiting and reversible; retinaldehyde can be converted enzymatically into either RA or retinol by human keratinocytes, both in vivo [4,5] and in vitro [6].” Topical Retinaldehyde on Human Skin: Biologic Effects and Tolerance

Jean Hilaire Saurat, Liliane Didierjean, Elisabeth Masgrau, Pierre A. Piletta, Stefano Jaconi, Dominique

Chatellard-Gruaz, Dagmar Gumowski, Isabelle Masouye, Denis Salomon, and Georges Siegenthaler

Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland

You can imagine my joy when I got my hands on this retinal product. My aging, rosacean, tough-to-please skin just loves, loves everything about retinoids. Couldn’t wait to try it.

Here is what Medik8 (more full reviews on their products read here and here) says:

Crystal Retinal is formulated with stabilised retinal, a powerful derivative of vitamin A with next-generation anti-ageing results. Unmatched in its age-defying power, retinal can deliver results comparable to clinical-grade vitamin A up to 11 times faster than classic forms of retinol.(1)

The ground-breaking overnight serum visibly minimises fine lines and wrinkles; firming and plumping the complexion to resurface skin texture and soften the face. Featuring hyaluronic acid, glycerin and vitamin E, it hydrates skin at every level to deliver a supple, even-toned, more youthful-looking complexion. More than that, it actively helps reduce blemish-causing bacteria to keep skin clear and balanced. In just 4 weeks, skin is noticeably younger, smoother and undeniably radiant.(2)

1 G. Seigenthaler et al., Biochemical Journal, 1990, 268, pp 371-378

2 Independent user trial carried out over 8 weeks using Crystal Retinal 6. Individual results may vary.

Stable Retinal Night Serum

The ground-breaking overnight serum visibly minimises fine lines and wrinkles; firming and plumping the complexion to resurface skin texture and soften the face. /Medik8/

How to use it?

After cleansing in the evening, massage a small amount of Crystal Retinal across the face, neck and décolletage.

Allow to absorb before applying your moisturiser. Crystal Retinal application should be phased in gradually, and only use in the evening.

 Use twice a week for the first 2 weeks, every other night for the next 2 weeks, then every night.

Always wear sunscreen the following morning while using this product, and for 1 week after. Consult a doctor if breastfeeding or pregnant.

I literally held to this. And then I tried every other possible combination – with toner and serum, without, with moisturizer prior or post application…


Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Isododecane, Cyclodextrin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinal,  Squalane, Sodium Hyaluronate, 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, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Alumina, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Isostearic Acid, Lecithin, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Stearic Acid, Coumarin, CI 14700 (Red 4). /from the actual packaging/

Rosacea safe?

Yes and no

Who is it for?

All skin types, aging skin

Does it work?

Now we come to this point where I explain why this review is so tough to write for me. Like I said before, I failed to see any result of it except breakouts, rather ugly breakouts on my skin. It maybe isn’t fair to write this review knowing there will be struggle with the result, but I kept writing it to show how such a great ingredient like retinal can be completely overwritten by those that irritate skin, especially sensitive or damaged skin. In this case the suspect is carrot seed oil, fragrant, skin sensitizing oil that really can do this mess to sensitive skin but on the other non-sensitive can be very soothing and moisturizing. Unfortunately, my skin isn’t the latter.

My skin is no virgin when it comes to retinol and retinal products and has always loved them. Given such, this serum would have been a great addition to my collection of retinoid skin care products.

At first, I used it as specified in the directions, to the word. But nothing happened except dried out skin. Terrible feeling of size down skin on my face. Then I realized I cannot do it without hydrators. Nothing. Moisturizers. Nothing. Toners. Noting. Breakout. Breakout. Another breakout. Cursing.

Now this expensive, high end serum is great addition to my neck and hands care. Should I bother to continue how I can tell the subtle change…

Thumbs up?

Sorrry, not for me.

My skin when I put this serum on it

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