With so many products offering different forms of Vitamin A, how do you know which type is the best? Can the serums and formulations in all those beautiful bottles live up to their promises?
Vitamin A has a long list of clinically proven benefits:
- It's the most active antioxidant, meaning it removes free radicals to prevent ageing caused by oxidative stress
- It repairs damaged DNA for healthier skin cells
- It promotes collagen production to keep your skin youthful
- It helps reduce fine lines and enlarged pores
- It aids regulation of your natural oils
- It accelerates natural cell turnover to reduce acne congestion and keep the complexion fresh and healthy
There are few ingredients that provide so many benefits for your complexion, but Vitamin A has something extra.
According to RejuvAus founder Dr Garry Cussell, Vitamin A is the only active ingredient that has been clinically proven and accepted in dermatological research journals as an ingredient with definite scientific proof of its effects.
So, now that we know Vitamin A is widely accepted in the medical and scientific communities as an effective skincare ingredient, let’s look at the different forms of Vitamin A, because they aren’t all created equally.
What are the different forms of Vitamin A in skincare?
You’ve probably come across the word “Retinoid,” which is an umbrella term for Vitamin A in skincare. Within this category, you have Retinoic Acid, Retinol, Retinaldehyde and Retinyl Palmitate.
Retinol is the most common form of Vitamin A, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best!
Retinoic Acid, also known as “Tretinoin,” is the form of Vitamin A that interacts with your skin at the cellular level and provides the benefits listed above. On its own, Retinoic Acid is very strong. It’s only available by prescription, and it has a high risk of irritation and side effects, so most skincare products use Retinol, a derivative.
Most Retinol products need to be introduced to your skin very slowly, twice a week for the first few weeks. Too much too soon can lead to skin irritation, redness, dryness and peeling. Retinol products can only be used at night because they increase sensitivity to the sun.
Vitamin A only has a half-life of 8 hours, so for the first few weeks, you won’t get much benefit if you’re using it twice per week.
Retinol also needs to go through two processes in your skin before it can provide any benefits. First, your skin converts it into Retinal, and then converts Retinal into Retinoic Acid.
Retinaldehyde is another derivative of Vitamin A which works harder and has fewer drawbacks.
Retinaldehyde is a form of Retinal, so your skin only needs to convert it once (as opposed to Retinol, which goes through two conversions in the skin). This makes Retinaldehyde faster and more potent than other forms of Vitamin A. It’s also less likely to cause irritation than Retinol.
Retinyl Palmitate tends to be the least irritating form of Vitamin A, but it’s also the least effective. Once it’s absorbed into the skin, it has a longer conversion process before it becomes Retinoic Acid. The longer process reduces its efficacy, so though your risk of irritation is low, you may not notice much benefit in your skin.
Which is the best type of Vitamin A in skincare?
When analysing the options for developing RejuvAus, Dr Garry Cussell determined that Retinaldehyde was the best form of Vitamin A. It has the highest efficacy and lowest irritation, plus, it quickly became popular among clients he recommended it to.