The vitamin A brand that’s thriving during the EU’s retinol clampdown

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 24-Jun-2024

Medik8 has managed to shield itself from the EU’s retinol clampdown and position itself to pick up confused consumers when restrictions come into full force in 2027. Here’s how…

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As the industry works hard to adjust to the European Union’s (EU) ongoing crackdown on the use of retinol – a derivative of vitamin A – in cosmetic products, one beauty player is quietly confident it will thrive during the changes. 

For those who are unaware, the EU is limiting the maximum concentration of retinol used in skin care to 0.3% in face products and 0.05% in body lotions in a bid to address consumers’ potential overexposure to vitamin A. 

From 1 November 2025, no new retinol products can enter the EU market (and it is believed the UK will follow suit) unless they comply with these rules, while all remaining non-compliant products will be removed from shelves from 1 May 2027. 

As such, brands with items that do not meet these requirements are having to reformulate existing high strength products – a costly endeavour – while others are even considering taking a new approach to their portfolio entirely, such as potentially going prescription-only. 

It is a big change to the industry’s use of what is commonly known as the ‘gold standard’ ingredient for skin rejuvenation, but some brands in the space are surprisingly unfazed by the EU’s tightening of retinol’s concentration.

The EU is really scientific when it comes to restrictions on ingredients, and it is all based on toxicology

Exception to the rule

Vitamin A-focused company Medik8 is one of them, believing its premium skin care business could soar even further as consumers look for efficacious alternatives to their previous go-to high strength retinol products. 

The brand has invested heavily in the use of retinol alternative retinal (short for retinaldehyde) – which is part of a group of vitamin A derivatives called retinoids – for six years in its hero franchise Crystal Retinal.

It is a smart move by the company as this ingredient is exempt from the EU’s clampdown.

This means Medik8’s five-step retinaldehyde-infused serum line – Crystal Retinal 1, 3, 6, 10 and 20 (which ranges from 0.01% to 0.2% strength) – and complementary Crystal Retinal Ceramide Eye cream (available in three progressive strengths), will be unaffected.

“We have been very mindful of the EU’s

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