Vitamin A is the single most proven go-to ingredient for improving everything from acne, wrinkles and collagen synthesis to hyperpigmentation. Even today, following the advent of peptides, peels and stem cells, vitamin A and its retinoid-derivative family continue to reign as the gold standard of skin care, particularly in treating photodamage.
How Vitamin A works...Retinols are converted by the skin to retinoic acid, where they become active. This derivative actually includes several chemical compounds—commonly referred to as retinoids. Vitamin A can attach itself to skin cells, normalizing their function and getting them to behave like younger, healthier versions of themselves by softening fine lines and wrinkles, boosting collagen and elastin, accelerating cellular turnover, and smoothing the skin.
There are 3 forms of Vitamin A (retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinoic acid) that collectively are known as retinoids. Retinyl palmitate is an ester form and the mildest version. In order to become active, it is converted into a retinoic acid (the strongest version), by the skin at a cellular level.
Retinoic Acid is the active form of Vitamin A – the one that has a direct biological effect on skin (this is the form that makes all the difference. It is a very effective acne treatment, but because of its strength and direct action, you can only get it with a prescription from your doctor.
The following forms of Vitamin A for skin exist so we can get the same benefits with fewer side effects and no prescription:
When Retinol is applied to the skin it transforms into Retinoid Acid and your skin only transforms what it needs. Retinol applied to the skin transforms into Retinoic Acid
Retinol is the best form of vitamin A for skin in an over the counter product because it is the strongest. It can still be too irritating for some people.
Although it takes longer to work Retinyl Palmitate is one step back from Retinol. The upside is that it does not cause the reactions and irritations that stronger retinoids do including itching, redness, and peeling.
When incorporating vitamin A to a regimen, it is important to eliminate exposure to the sun and always use a mineral-based SPF 30 or higher following a Vitamin A treatment.
Here are my favorite Vitamin A products: iS Clinical Youth Complex, iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum Advance+ Skin Therapy Vitamin A Plus, & Saian Retinoid Renewal Night Serum