Before trying it I met a certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, to find out what exactly retinol does compared to traditional retinol formulas.
“Retinal, referring to retinaldehyde, is a type of retinoid – or derivative of vitamin A – that is converted to retinoic acid to help regulate skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, thereby improving texture and general tone, ”she said. “Retinaldehyde is considered to be more potent than retinol, since there are fewer steps to convert to retinoic acid compared to retinol. In general, all retinol derivatives must be converted to retinoic acid to be effective – and the more steps involved, the less potent and milder they are.
That said, being a retinal serum, Moonlight sits somewhere between retinol and prescription retinoic acid in terms of strength, making it one of the most potent products you can buy over the counter. “It can be used by anyone who wants to start a retinoid, but it can be especially helpful for someone who has used a retinol before and tolerated it well but doesn’t notice a significant improvement,” Garshick adds. “Plus, if someone isn’t quite ready or can’t tolerate a prescription retinoid, this is a great option.”