Rewriting The Retinoid Rules: The OTC Anti-Ageing Ingredient Superior To Retinol

February 8, 2020


Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are vitamers of vitamin A – an ingredient strongly linked to a myriad of skin repairing benefits, including anti-ageing. Although retinol is widely accessible to consumers in a range of OTC creams, serums and lotions, its conversion to retinoic acid – the only true form of vitamin A proven to be effective transdermally – can often leave the skin feeling dry, irritated and red.

Considered the gold standard in skincare as the most studied anti-ageing ingredient, retinoic acid, the compound used in prescription grade vitamin A, is admired for its ability to stimulate cell turnover and increase collagen production for fewer lines and wrinkles, smoother skin texture, and reduced acne and pustular rosacea. As retinol’s two-stage conversion process has been shown to be 20 times less potent than its prescription counterpart, scientific literature is now heralding retinal, retinol’s successor, as a more efficacious and better tolerated retinoid. 

Retinoic Acid Conversion Process:
Retinal Palmitate > Retinol > Retinal (Retinaldehyde) > Retinoic Acid

Sometimes known as retinaldehyde, retinal is the third stage in the retinoic acid conversion process and performs closest to prescription retinoic acid at combating the physical signs of ageing. Converted by specialised enzymes that exist within the skin, retinal is more effective than any other form of non-prescription vitamin A and is ideal for most skin types, including sensitive, due to its high tolerability and minimal irritation. In fact, retinal has been clinically proven to be the superior cosmeceutical retinoid when compared to retinol and retinyl esters; and was even concluded in one study to be equally as effective as prescription retinoic acid at reversing the effects of photoageing.

Pioneering the beauty industry with their evidence-based approach to skincare formulations, ESK – Evidence Skincare, introduces two varying strengths of retinal-based evening face serums, Ultimate A (0.06%) and Ultimate A+ (0.1%), as an effective, tolerable and scientifically-proven method of promoting new collagen production, combating acne and rosacea, and reducing the visual appearance of pigmentation, skin discolouration and unwanted skin texture.

Combining the glow-enhancing AHA, glycolic acid, and vitamin B3, niacinamide, Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ helps to visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, skin dullness and texture, while simultaneously strengthening skin barrier function and protecting from future environmental assault.  

“We developed Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ using the strongest peer-reviewed evidence available,” said co-founder of ESK – Evidence Skincare, Dr. Ginni Mansberg. 

“With many consumers uncertain of the retinoic acid conversion process and subject to an endless flood of marketing hype, we wanted to cut through all the beauty babble and create two cosmeceutical-grade serums that not only deliver on results, but are universally suited to a range of skin types and conditions.”

Formulated for evening use, Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ is tailored to young and mature skin alike, including those prone to sensitivity, and should be used in conjunction with an SPF during daylight hours to protect skin cells from UV-induced trauma. As with all forms of topical vitamin A, it is recommended that neither product be used by pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers. 

ESK – Evidence Skincare was founded in 2012 by husband and wife team, Daniel Rubinstein and Dr. Ginni Mansberg, and employs the expertise of Australian doctors, dermatologists and scientists to formulate their extensive range of locally-made cosmeceutical-grade skincare. Once exclusive to medical practitioners, the range was made available direct to consumers in 2017. As a digital resource, ESK – Evidence Skincare has recently introduced an online questionnaire to assist customers in tailoring their skincare regimen.

Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ is available globally at

Editor’s Notes:

She Society trialled the Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ products over the last 8 weeks and we are amazed by the results. The creamy emulsion layered effortlessly with other evening skincare products and did not irritate the face as some traditional OTC retinol serums are notorious for! After two months of evening use, skin is refined, ‘glowy’ and clear of acne. Fine lines are softer, and skin is plump to the touch. A must-have for women and men who are looking at improving their skincare game in 2020. 

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