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Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that make up different forms of Vitamin A.

Retinoids have many essential and diverse functions throughout the body, including roles in vision, cell proliferation and differentiation, growth of bone tissue, immune function, and activation of tumour suppressor genes. Extensive research is also being done into their ability to treat skin cancers.

Topical Retinoids are used in skincare lines, primarily due to their ability to regulate epithelial cell growth, unclog pores, and boost collagen production. Three prescription-strength Retinoids exist at the moment, Tretinoin, Tazarotene and Adapalene, all of which produce great results. However, these can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner or dermatologist and have the potential to cause high levels of irritation. The most popular over-the-counter Retinoid is Retinol, or its ester alternative, Retinyl Palmitate.

For any form of Vitamin A to be effective,
it ultimately needs to be converted into Retinoic Acid, a well-known anti-aging and UV-protective agent.

The pathway occurs as below: Retinyl Palmitate -> Retinol -> Retinaldehyde (Retinal) -> Retinoic Acid. Indeed, it is only Retinoic Acid that is accepted by cell receptors to produce its desired results within the skin.

Another vital factor to consider is that Retinoids degrade very quickly due to oxidation following exposure to the air or UV rays. This can happen either during packaging or once opened, and therefore the use of higher concentrations of Retinol is necessary to counteract loss. However, whilst higher concentrations helps ensure that Retinol is still effective after its conversion to Retinoic acid, it can cause significant irritation and overstimulation in the skin.

Retinaldehyde is a rare form of Vitamin A that is even more powerful than retinol. It is a retinoic acid precursor formed as an intermediate metabolite in the transformation of retinol to retinoic acid (as above), making it much closer in power to the latter without the infamous side effects. Studies have found that the rate of production of retinoic acid from retinaldehyde is higher than that from retinol, indicating that the retinol -> retinaldehyde reaction is the rate-limiting step of the conversion.

Xcell Medical Skincare

This means that when we administer retinaldehyde instead of retinol, we bypass the slowest part of the reaction and thus produce retinoic acid much faster. Indeed, retinaldehyde has been seen to act up to 11x faster than retinol at providing anti- ageing, radiance-boosting, and clarifying benefits to the skin.

In a scientific review by leading dermatologists, they concluded that “retinaldehyde appears to be the only retinoid-based cosmeceutical to be effective in the treatment of photoaging”. Retinaldehyde is also the only directly anti-bacterial form of Vitamin A; it can target the bacteria that causes blemishes and, therefore, promote decongestion.

Iconic A® is the first stable, naturally encapsulated Retinaldehyde (4% powder), offering the highest, most effective activity value to the skin. In addition, it is the least irritating form of Vitamin A, making it the perfect ingredient for all skin types. Not only is Iconic A® only one conversion step away from pure Retinoic acid, but studies have also shown that retinaldehyde can be physiologically stored in keratinocytes, making Iconic A® a highly efficacious product for anti-aging. Iconic A® is a major leap forward in skincare advancement, with one double blind controlled trial showing a statistically significant improvement in radiance, fine lines, wrinkles, and photodamage following daily topical use of Iconic A®.

Results of this study are shown below, whereby the photo on the left is before using Iconic A® Cream for 4 weeks, and on the right after.

Every woman tested saw improvement/reduction in facial wrinkles in at least one of the three areas tested: cheeks, under-eye, and crow’s feet. So not only did Iconic A® reverse photodamage, its popularity within subjects was primarily due to its non-irritative nature.

We can conclude that the administration of Iconic A® is the ultimate solution for anyone looking for the most effective Retinol products, many of which are now featured in the Xcell skincare range.


Our range is all about achieving results! Science meets nature, working in synergy with the skin where natural ingredients can penetrate without sensitivity issues.


Combining the latest and proven ingredients obtained from Mother Nature with state of the art science. Every ingredient in all of our medical grade skincare products is stable and chirally corrected. FDA, CGMP, and USDA NOF approved.