From Acne to Aging: Vitamin A is Your Forever Ingredient
No skin care ingredient is more researched or more revered than vitamin A (retinoids). This indispensable architect of radiance is on every dermatologist’s or aesthetician’s list of regimen staples because of its multiple benefits and unparalleled results. No matter where you are in your skin care journey, vitamin A has something for you.
“Everyone and their mother should be using [vitamin A] retinoids,” board-certified dermatologist Adam Friedman told Self magazine.
Though it’s essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin, vitamin A is not manufactured by our bodies. We get it through diet and topical application of retinoids, vitamin A acids that activate the retinoic acid receptors (RARs) in the skin to stimulate repair and renewal.
Vitamin A is a cell proliferator. Without it, dead skin cells accumulate on the surface, creating clogged pores that lead to breakouts. An excess of dead skin cells also blocks moisture from entering skin leading to dryness; skin looks dull; fine lines appear deeper.
Both a promoter and protector of firm, elastic, youthful skin structure, Vitamin A stimulates collagen synthesis while preventing degradation by inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen and preventing oxidative stress.
Vitamin A increases the skin’s ability to hold water by stimulating the synthesis of hyaluronic acid.
Vitamin A boosts cell turnover, which aids in peeling out acne impactions, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and decreasing hyperpigmentation. Skin appears clearer, firmer, and brighter.
“I don’t know anyone over age 25 who could not benefit from a nightly retinol product,” Brooke Jackson, MD, a dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at UNC at Chapel Hill told Huffington Post.
Whatever your age, vitamin A has benefits for your skin. You can use retinoids in your 20s to clear acne; in your 30s to control pigmentation; in your 40s to enhance collagen and fight lines; in your 50s and beyond to do all of those things, and help prevent changes in the skin that can lead to cancer.
“Retinoids truly are a pan-age therapy,” New York City dermatologist Robert Anolik told Allure.
The strongest form of vitamin A is pure retinoic acid. You know it best as the prescription treatment Retin-A®, which was co-developed by Dr. Fulton. But in this pure form, retinoic acid is strong, and therefore, irritating. Dr. Fulton developed vitamin A propionate to maintain the benefits of retinoic acid without the irritation. Vitamin A propionate, which gets converted by the body into retinoic acid, accelerates cell turnover from 30-45 days to between 10 and 14 days. Vitamin A propionate has an added advantage over other retinoids. Its smaller molecular size allows it to go deeper into the skin to reach cell receptors.
Benefits of this lifetime ingredient last for as long as you continue to use it. Skin doesn’t stop responding, though it will become acclimated, meaning you will maintain your benefits, but won’t see the kind of microexfoliation you did when you first started using it. That’s the point at which you can bump up to a higher percentage to keep pushing your results, or you can settle into maintenance mode. Vitamin A is safe for long-term use, but you’ll want to take a break if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, as retinoids are not considered safe for baby.