It doesn’t surprise us why skincare marketers speak of miracle water or cream instead of making a fuss of the active ingredients in the world’s most coveted products including names like lamer, la prarie, Sisley, SKII etc. Indeed it can be very confusing to read ingredient lists and to make sense of all the bio-active ingredients what helps with our skin concerns.
In this article, lets try to find out if Retinol, Retin A and Retinoic Acid are all the same. These are also the most commonly used terms to represent skincare with Vitamin A pros and cons. You must be wondering just like I used to before I became a professional beautician cum boutique salon owner, what is the big deal with Vitamin A.
Yes. Carrots especially is well known to be packed with Vitamin A and is one the most healthy food for good skin. But how is Vitamin A incorporated in skincare? And how does it help in skin rejuvenation, skin-pigmentation treatment and anti-wrinkle, pimple treatment and overall anti-aging skin care.
Let’s dive in.
Retinol is simply another name for Vitamin A. It is a type of retinoid, the family of chemical compound related to Vitamin A. Looking at this simplified equation, we can easily understand that all these derivatives are all but the same, depending at which stage of the metabolism was Vitamin A incorporated.
Whist Retinyl ester is the most stabilized form of the Retinol, it however has the lowest efficacy as it needs to be converted by enzymes to be Retinoic Acid for use by the skin.
Vitamin A metabolism: Retinyl ester (Retinaldehyde) -> Retinol -> Retinal -> Retinoic acid
For most anti-aging needs, many dermatologists are suggesting to use Retinol and let the body natural enzymes convert it into Retinoic Acid. The skin will use what it needs and irritation is more manageable.
It is important to apply Retinol thinly only at night as it cause the skin to be more photosensitive, just like Vitamin C. For the morning skincare routine, it is mandatory to have a SPF30 or higher sunscreen.
Retinoic acid is the bio-active ingredient in skincare products. Unless retinol gets converted to retin0ic aid, it will not be effective as a skin rejuvenation ingredient.
Only a small amount of Retinoic Acid should be applied as it can cause some irritation, sensitivity, peels lightly (flakiness) and skin may appear red. If any of these symptoms appear, it is good to ensure the dosage is lessen and to apply on alternate night only. Normally, creams for normal skin type will contain 0.05% of retinoic acid while products manufactured for people with sensitive skin will contain 0.025% of the ingredient.
Hence, it should not be used for long term. For anti-aging, Retinoid is a better option.
Many people get confused with Retin A. In fact, it is a brand name of tretinoin, a form of retinoic acid.
Hope you found this article on Vitamin A as part of Skincare Singapore series useful. As always, may you remain healthy, happy and glowy.