Often known in a skincare context as Retinol, Vitamin A, when used wisely, is something of an anti-ageing powerhouse.
Of its many sought-after benefits, its ability to add a “golden glow” to the skin is probably one of its greatest attributes and you’d be hard-pressed to find a skincare ingredient with quite so many scientifically proven upsides.
But with so many Vitamin A-based skincare products on the market, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Read on to discover just why Vitamin A is so revered and how you can implement this into your skincare routine both safely and effectively.
Vitamin A in skincare
As mentioned above, Vitamin A, and all of its variants, are often listed in skincare products as Retinol or “Retinoids”.
Retinoic Acid, which is the form of Vitamin A that the skin can recognise and use most readily, is one of the most well-researched ingredients in skincare and is generally believed to be the only one with any proper scientific evidence to back up its usage.
It appears naturally (as Beta Carotene) in vegetables such as carrots, which explains why it lends a yellow-red pigment to the skin, and has been widely used in skincare since the 1960s.
These days, Vitamin A (as Retinoic Acid, Retinal and Retinol) is present in many oral and topical products and has several powerful anti-ageing qualities when it is applied directly to the skin.
Can Vitamin A be harmful to the skin?
The common misbelief that Vitamin A makes the skin thinner and can cause irritation, dryness and erythema isn’t entirely true. When used appropriately, it can actively help to rebuild and strengthen the skin.
The reason for the complications listed above is simple: prescription-strength Retinoic Acid has been known to cause damage and irritation to the skin upon application. This is because the skin isn’t always instantly aware of what to do with such a powerful substance and, instead of fully absorbing it, will leave a large proportion of this untouched on its surface layer.
Fortunately, superior, popularly used formulations almost always feature Retinol and Retinal in an encapsulated form (usually wrapped in lipids, protein molecules or wax) to ensure the safe and effective delivery of Vitamin A to the deeper layers of the skin.
Why is Vitamin A so useful?
Vitamin A works most effectively in the deeper layers of the skin.
Over time, the dermis (the skin’s middle layer) – which is home to collagen, elastin and GAGs – starts to thin. The knock-on effect of this is that the epidermis (the top layer of skin) stops renewing itself and skin function begins to slow down. When combined with sun damage from UV rays, this leaves the skin in a dire, undesirable condition.
It is therefore the role of Vitamin A-rich products to speed up cell turnover and help those who use these skincare items to maintain a younger, healthier-looking appearance.
The most notable benefits of Vitamin A are as follows:
- It is essential for collagen synthesis in the skin
- It regulates cell differentiation
- It has an impact on regulating pigmentation
- It increases cell proliferation
- It decreases inflammation
- It strengthens immunity in the skin
- It reduces acne and pore size
How should Vitamin A be used?
It’s always advisable to use an encapsulated formulation of Vitamin A and many of these feature key supporting ingredients such as peptides and antioxidants.
Ideally, Vitamin A should be applied at night (as this is when the skin rebuilds itself) and it is safe to start with no more than a pea-sized amount. Care must be taken when using it on more sensitive areas such as the neck and it would be beneficial to start slowly to avoid any reactions.
Vitamin A makes the skin more sensitive to the sun so should be complemented by a good quality broad-spectrum/mineral SPF. This doesn’t mean it should not be used in sunny climates – the flip side is that the more UV rays the skin is exposed to, the more Vitamin A resources are depleted as a result of UV damage. It is important to replace the Vitamin A resources with encapsulated Retinol and Retinaldehyde products so the skin can naturally metabolise them to a usable form without the associated risks.
The frequency of application is dependent on both age and skin condition and it’s important to remember that Vitamin A should be introduced into a skincare routine gradually, starting at 2-3 times a week before slowly building up to once a day.
Pregnant women should refrain from the use of topical Vitamin A products.
There are many entry-level products available for those wishing to explore the benefits of Vitamin A. These include Cosmedix’s Serum 16 (best for normal to dry skin) and Define and Refine from the same brand (recommended for combination/oily skin).
Please use this link to order these products from Medico Beauty.
Alumier MD’s Retinol Resurfacing Serum is also an excellent anti-ageing formula and it is available in 3 different strengths!
If you want to find out more about how Vitamin A could be a valuable asset to your skincare routine, then contact me today to book a virtual consultation. I am also active on Instagram or Facebook and will answer any messages directly.