What Is Retinol And Is It The Same As Vitamin A?
I get asked so much in the skin clinic about Retinol so I thought this would give you a little incite into Retinol or Vitamin A as its also known.
WHAT IS VITAMIN A?
Vitamin A belongs to a family called Retinoids, it is an essential nutrient found naturally in the skin.
The body does not make Vitamin A so we need to take it internally as a supplement and apply it topically to our skin.
It is the ULTIMATE ingredient, here are some facts about Vitamin A:
- Protects and repairs skin cells.
- Re-educates damaged skin cell DNA.
- Is fat soluble so the skin can store it.
- The more stores of Vitamin A you have in your skin, the higher the skins natural SPF (can be up to SPF 20).
- Normalising effect so it controls the growth of the skin.
- Depletes through exposure to UV light which we call ‘Photo-Ageing’.
- A skin rich in Vitamin A is less likely to develop skin abnormalities like skin cancers.
- We need to replace Vitamin A twice daily by topical application otherwise the skin will become deficient.
- It is sensitive to light, air (oxygen) and water.
- Essential for every cell in the body.
- Vitamin A is the ‘Oxygen’ for our skin.
DIFFERENT FORMS OF VITAMIN A:
There are many different forms of Vitamin A but they all have essentially the same action…..
- Retinyl Palmitate.
- Retinyl Propionate.
- Retinyl Acetate.
- Retinoic Acid.
This is the plant form (carotenoid) of Vitamin A and is found in spinach, parsley, carrots, tomatoes and broccoli.
It is a very powerful antioxidant and is found in Environs Skin EssentiA AVST moisturisers and Rad SPF.
This form can be converted although it prefers to stay as a carotenoid. It is not vegan friendly.
STORAGE FORMS (RETINYL ESTERS):
- Retinyl Palmitate.
- Retinyl Propionate.
- Retinyl Acetate.
These storage forms of Vitamin A are more stable, milder but still active and easier for the skin to tolerate.
Retinyl Palmitate is the most dominant form and actually gives the same benefits as Retinoic Acid (strongest form/medical grade) because of the conversion journey that takes place.
The more variety of Retinyl Esters we supply the skin with the better the results.
This is the alcohol form of Vitamin A and is unstable in cosmetic formulas. This is why when you use the Environ Retinol series of serums you will notice it has a short shelf life.
Retinol is a very active form of vitamin A because it is used to transport the vitamin through the bloodstream. As a result it must not be used during pregnancy. It is less irritating than Retinoic Acid.
It can often cause mild peeling of the skin when it is first used until your skin has become acclimatised.
As always your skin specialist is here to advise you on when and how to introduce this ingredient into your regime.
We do not use this form in Environ.
This form is essential for night vision.
This is the medical grade form, it is not found in Environ but is the destination goal of all of the other forms. This is because it works on the DNA of the cell nucleus to achieve the desired results.
Once this form has been reached it can not be reverted.
This form is the most irritating. It is an acid and is only available on prescription. It should be used night time only, a few times a week because it is extremely exfoliating.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION:
No matter what form of Vitamin A you apply to the skin, your body will always convert it back into the milder, storage form (Retinyl Palmitate or one of the other esters). It then goes through a journey of conversion to reach the end goal and strongest form being ‘Retinoic Acid’.
This is why with Environ, we start your skin journey off with the low storage forms of Vitamin A. These can be found in Skin EssentiA AVST 1 or Youth EssentiA C-Quence 1.
Your skin journey up through the levels is simply to acclimatise your skin and slowly build up the stores of Vitamin A. Because don’t forget Vitamin A is depleted through UV exposure every day!
As a result of reaching the highest level in either of these ranges, we can start to introduce the form ‘Retinol. Unless you are presenting a skin concern where you may need to be fast tracked onto this ingredient. That decision will be decided through your skincare advisor.
STRENGTH OF VITAMIN A:
I have a lot of people asking what percentage of Vitamin A we use in Environ products. Although we do not measure in percentages as it is impossible to be accurate, we measure in IU (international units).
So for example… 1IU of any form of Vitamin A we apply to the skin becomes 1IU of Retinoic Acid (most active form) after the conversion takes place.
We say you need to be using a minimum of 500IU of Vitamin A during one application to really make an impact on the skin.
Although jumping up to the strongest formula is certainly not recommended, you have to start off low and go slowly up through the system.
There is a huge difference from entry level formulas to say for instance level 5 which is 100 times stronger!!!
What I do know is that Environ work with the maximum permissible amount of Vitamin A. So you’ll find you’ll achieve results like no other skin care range.
FORMULATION OF VITAMIN A:
- Environ Skin Care is made under yellow light which prevents the product from degrading. It is also formulated in a controlled environment.
- The products are formulated in air tight containers as oxygen depletes the strength of Vitamin A.
- Skin EssentiA AVST and Youth EssentiA C-Quence serums are all tested for strength. Then all bottles are stamped with the recognised Swiss Vitamin Institute Seal of Approval.
- Vitamin A makes the skin thin… In fact it is the opposite. Regular use of Vitamin A thickens the outermost layer of skin ‘Epidermis’ creating a great protective barrier
- Vitamin A makes your skin photosensitive….. Only the medical grade ‘Acidic’ form has this ability. Because it promotes ‘peeling’ of the skin when applied topically. When prescribed by a medical professional you will be advised on controlled application and to avoid exposure to UV.