Medik8 r-retinoate serum Youth Activating Cream review 5

Last year, during the advent offers, I managed to shake my wallet on its last pennies and bought the Medik8 r-Retinoate 30% OFF. But even with a good discount like that, this still cost me well above €100!
I’ve boasted about it on Instagram a few times, but I’m sure you’re all wondering, is it really worth it? Stay tuned to find out…


Important To Know

Before I go on with my review, I want to set some things straight. At the time of use, I am 27 years old. I have normal skin most of the time that tends to be dehydrated. I wouldn’t call my skin sensitive anymore, but it doesn’t tolerate chemical exfoliants more than 1-3 times a week. My main issues are acne and acne scarring (both indents and PIH). As far as for wrinkles, I have two lines on my forehead that’s started to become more prominent just recently, and between my eyebrows. Some laugh lines are starting to appear, but those are yet only visible by me.
Prior to this, I had not tried or used a regular retinol product strength of 0.5% or above.
I also want to add that my use of this product has not been completely consistent. I’ll give you the details later.
Keep all this in mind while reading my review!

Medik8 r-retinoate serum Youth Activating Cream review 2

Retinyl Retinoate

I’m not going to go too much into details of explaining this new type of retinoid alternative, I find that the Medik8’s website is enough and other blogs. There’s no need for repeating. All I can add is that it’s very new, and I believe that because of its scarcity use is why it’s so expensive right now. The reason for me wanting to try it was for the claims of it being suitable for sensitive skin and even being photostable.

It’s supposed to be less sensitizing than retinoic acid (prescription-strength) and over the counter retinol. Retinoids and retinol do have a bad rap of being sensitizing to the skin, causing it to become dry, flaky and sensitive to sunlight. Retinyl retinoate may be less sensitizing than pure retinol because it has a slower conversion in the skin to retinoic acid(?). On a scale though, retinol needs to be converted 2 times, while retinyl only needs to convert 1 time. The difference is their time-release. But will say that, you can find microencapsulated retinol on the market that will have a similar effect.

However, when it comes to not causing sensitivity to sunlight, Retinyl retinoate is the only one said to do so.
Still, it probably doesn’t matter, as a person will perhaps also use chemical exfoliants apart from a retinol-product that will cause sensitivity to sun.

Other products I’ve seen to use Retinyl Retinoate:
Verso’s line of products is based on this ingredient, calling it “Retinol 8”.
BareMinerals BB Primer has a very small percentage of it.


Except for being a new type of retinoid alternative in skincare, this product also comes with the latest and most stabilized vitamin C, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid. You may have encountered it via Hylamide C25 and The Ordinary Ethylated Ascorbic Acid 15%. Deciem spilled the beans to tell us that this form of vitamin C is expensive and they, of course, are able to sell it at a reasonable price because they buy a lot of it and sell it pretty isolated.

The Medik8 r-Retinoate also comes with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, housed in a beautiful vacuum packaging.
Not to forget to mention that it has no added fragrance, except for the natural and faint vanilla scent from the vanilla fruit extract.

Quick Comparison: Medik8 r-Retinoate vs Verso Super Facial Serum

I had the opportunity to try the Verso-version a few times. While I can’t comment on the long-term effects, the short term felt about the same. However, Medik8’s r-Retinoate has a much nicer texture which sinks in fast leaving the skin matte. The Verso Super Facial Serum, on the other hand, has a much thicker texture that feels streaky when applied and feels more moisturizing on the skin. The Verso serum does not contain hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, but does have cermide 3/NP and curcumin extract.
I would say that both perfom quite equally, so it’s more a matter of personal prefrence in texture as well as what your wallet allows. Remind you also that, r-Retinoate comes in 50ml and Super Facial Serum comes in 30ml.

Medik8 r-retinoate serum Youth Activating Cream review



I told you earlier that my use has not been consistent. I believe that according to Medik8 you need to use it about 6-8 weeks straight to see the best results.
Because of its milder nature, you can use this day or night and even day and night. I experimented with different times but eventually settled with only PM use because it fits better with my routine. The cream is very light and absorbable, so you can definitely layer. However,  when used both day and night, and especially in conjunction with acids, it was clear that this still was a vitamin A product; causing my skin to very feel dry and overexfoliated.

Later, during the year of use, I started to cycle my routine to be able to use all my actives without causing over-exfoliation. It’s said it’s good to use retinol intermittently because of the skins ability to become used to it. I don’t know how much this applies to Retinyl Retinoate? But to be able to use my acids and vitamin A without causing my skin to become an unbalanced and dry mess, I settled for r-Retinoate 3-4 days in a row per week with 3-4 nights break. During the break, I would use a chemical exfoliant once, like my Elizabeth Arden PRO Perfection Serum, which also has a slow-released retinoid-AHA-conjugate (doesn’t need converting). Or something less strong, depending on how my skin’s feeling.
Note that, if I hadn’t been using acids (especially one with vitamin A), I would’ve easily tolerated using r-Retinoate every night.


It’s probably individual, but I felt like I noticed a brightening and calming effect already from the first use. However, when it comes to fighting the tiny existing wrinkles that I have, I can’t say that I’ve noticed a huge difference or one at all. But this can perhaps be because of my lack of consistency and/or my age.

I got this because of its ability to not make your skin sun sensitive. But I quickly realized that sunscreen is still a must if you want to truly reap and protect the benefits from your serums. Not to mention, I still felt the need to use chemical exfoliation as the r-Retinoate wasn’t really a one-does-it-all-product. But in many ways, it could’ve been.

What makes me less keen on repurchasing it is that it didn’t have that great of an effect on my acne as I had hoped for. I’ll be honest, some over-exfoliation did play a big part in why I probably didn’t see the skin texture I was hoping for. And when I got all that sorted out, my skin saw the improvements I’ve been wishing for. But I had finished the r-Retinoate by that time.

Additional Thoughts

Later this year (2018), I did get the chance to try some ordinary retinol, namely, Peter Thomas Roth microencapsulated retinol 1.5%. And I have to say, that product had a bigger effect on keeping my skin clear than the r-Retinoate, even without consistent use! It’s very confusing as retinyl retinoate is supposed to show some promise for treating acne. And that’s why my interest in retinol even started! And by all means, I wish I started sooner!

During the whole time I was using the r-Retinoate, I was dead set on repurchasing it again (at 30% off – of course). Because despite not seeing fast results, I was sure I’ll be seeing long term results in the future.
But now I feel like I need to take a few steps back and explore the world of retinol. I’ve started with the newest/most advanced and expensive ones, but I have a feeling that the regular retinol that plebs use, is probably just as fine. It is one of the most well studied than a lot of the newer ones. And even my mother, who’s tried the Verso serums with Retinol 8, finds her that her night moisturizer with 2.5% retinol to be absolute.

With regular use, I’d say that the r-Retinoate serum would last you about 6 months. With my inconsistent use and breaks, it lasted me almost a year.


The packaging is worth a mention. The serum comes housed in a box much like a one you get when buying a new smartphone, with magnetic closing. It feels very luxurious, and definitely like you spent a good amount of money on it. I personally think it’s a nice gesture on a £135 product. I’ve never spent this much on a single skincare item before, so I didn’t know what to expect. However, I once spent almost about €45 on 5ml of essential oils, which is actually twice the price per ml [than the r-Retinoate] and that packaging was mediocre.

I like the design of the bottle, oozes “hich tech” to me. However, I wished that they’d do something better about the opening. I ended up saving the little stopper so that whatever product that got left in the opening wouldn’t dry up in-between uses. But maybe if you’d use it day and night, this wouldn’t become a problem.

Medik8 r-retinoate serum Youth Activating Cream review


Maybe it’s the price tag talking… But despite feeling like it sort of failed in certain areas in comparison to my expectations, I still find it to be a wonderful product. Do I think it’s worth the money or even the €130 that I paid? No, not really. But if you have very sensitive skin, you might say it’s worth it.

However, this ingredient is still very new, there’s not a lot of options for retinyl retinoate and not a lot of studies. Not many brands are using it and starring it. And if I’m to compare all the options that are, then the Medik8’s version is the best on the market right now, in my opinion. With its light texture, stabilized vitamin C, added vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, and fragrance-free formula, as well as coming in a 50ml vacuum pump bottle, you do get a lot of premium stuff for your money. You basically have your vitamin C, retinol and hydration in one bottle.

But then it’s also a matter of preference. Do you have sensitive skin? Is regular retinol too harsh for you? Or do you simply value a less sensitizing option? Then r-Retinoate is for you.

Love to hear your thoughts and questions!
Have your tried retinyl retinoate?
If not, what’s your absolute favorite retinol product?