Vitamin A (retinol) in skincare – its effects on the skin.

Vitamin A is a group of chemical compounds belonging to carotenoids. All vitamin A derivatives are called retinoids. It is soluble in fats and is responsible for, among others, proper vision, growth of the body, bone structure, as well as skin and hair condition. Sources of this vitamin in the diet are animal products (cod liver oil, egg yolks, liver, dairy products) as well as carrots, spinach, broccoli, pumpkin, tomatoes, plums, and apricots. Vitamin A, which is supplied with food, reaches the skin last and often in insufficient amounts.

Forms of vitamin A in cosmetics. How to find retinol in the composition according to INCI?

The forms of vitamin A used in cosmetics must be transformed into retinoic acid in the skin cells, which exhibit the strongest activity. It is mainly used in the form of drugs, prescribed by a dermatologist. The route that other forms of vitamin A must take to transform into the active form is:

The more of these transformations, the later the effects may come. They can be found in the composition according to INCI in the form of (from the mildest version):

retinyl esters (INCI: Retinyl Palmitate, Retinyl Propionate, Retinyl Acetate) retinol (INCI: Retinol, Hydrogenated Retinol) retinal (INCI: Retinal, Retinaldehyde)

How does retinol work?

Retinol is a very well-researched ingredient and is considered the most effective anti-aging substance. It can work in the deeper layers of the skin. Vitamin A:

  • stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, which improves skin firmness and elasticity
  • even reduce existing wrinkles,
  • exfoliates, accelerates the cell regeneration cycle,
  • is an antioxidant,
  • brightens discolorations,
  • is also effective for acne-prone skin,
  • fighting excess sebum and preventing the formation of blackheads.

The effects of retinol therapy are not immediate, and the first noticeable beneficial effects are expected after about four months of use.

How to use cosmetics with retinol?

Retinol can be a component of creams, mainly in small concentrations, higher concentrations appear in serums, and it is about 0.2 to 2%. When using particularly high concentrations of vitamin A, side effects such as redness, dryness, and skin irritation may occur, especially in sensitive skin. Therefore, when starting retinol therapy, you must remember a few rules, such as:

  • starting with the lowest concentrations and building tolerance,
  • using it every 3-4 days in the beginning, and gradually increasing the frequency,
  • UV protection – the skin is sensitized and more susceptible to the effects of UV radiation, so it is essential to remember to use a high SPF sunscreen,
  • beginners should start retinol therapy in the autumn-winter period, with less exposure to the sun,
  • supporting skin regeneration and observation – it is worth using nourishing and soothing cosmetics with ingredients such as ceramides, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, and trehalose.

During retinoid therapy, it is recommended to discontinue mechanical peels and strong acids to avoid further irritation of the skin.

Is it worth introducing retinol into your skincare routine?

Due to numerous studies that prove the “miraculous” effects of vitamin A on our skin, it is definitely worth starting a retinol treatment. It is called the “youth vitamin,” and anyone who wants to delay the aging of their skin should be interested in this ingredient, paying attention to gradually introducing retinol and its soothing effects.

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